03.26.10

Seven Classic At the Movies Moments

The cancellation of At the Movies brings to mind the great debates between Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. Here are seven of our favorites, including the war over Full Metal Jacket.

The Undeclared War Over Full Metal Jacket

Rogert Ebert famously gave Full Metal Jacket a thumbs down and Benji: The Hunted a thumbs up; a fact Gene Siskel never let him forget. Here are the two are their best, verbally jousting over a great (or not so great?) film.

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Siskel and Ebert Clash over Crash

Despite a well-known affinity for popular popcorn fare, Ebert tended to have a soft spot for “difficult” movies—and boy, was David Cronenberg’s erotic auto-accident movie Crash difficult. The controversial 1996 film led to one of the pair’s most animated discussions, starting around 1:40 in this clip.

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Ebert’s Blue Velvet Blues

Ebert’s long been willing to rescind reviews of movies he’s changed his mind about, but one film he’s never been able to enjoy is David Lynch’s sadomasochistic fantasy Blue Velvet—despite being a fan of the director’s other movies. Siskel, on the other hand, loved the movie, as he reveals in their initial discussion—memorialized here around 2:30.

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Siskel and Ebert Not So Silent Regarding Silence of the Lambs

Now known as a suspense classic—and an Oscar-winner—Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs wasn’t universally acclaimed at all when it was encountered by Siskel and Ebert. Siskel outlines his objections starting at around 1:33, but it seems that Ebert’s qualified defense of the movie was the view vindicated by history.

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When Pulp Fiction Was the Rage

Pulp Fiction appears so often on cable television, its motifs have been so frequently imitated, that it’s hard to recall the excitement the film generated in 1994. Here Siskel and Ebert discuss it for the first time, with Ebert having seen it three times by the time of the review, and Siskel comparing Quentin Tarantino’s dialogue to the writing of David Mamet.

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Siskel and Ebert Blow Up Over Armageddon

“This could have been the movie that was shown to Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange to make him sick of violence,” Siskel remarks about the Michael Bay-directed Armageddon in this clip—and Siskel liked it. But despite the movie getting a “thumbs up” from Siskel and a less-positive review from Ebert (starting around 2:03), it’s unclear if they actually disagree—it may just be that Siskel has a high tolerance for fast cuts, loud noises, and general mindlessness.

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Siskel and Ebert Have It Out Discussing… Cop and a Half

We know what you’re thinking— Cop and a Half caused one of Siskel and Ebert’s most animated disagreements? The not-at-all-memorable family-friendly buddy movie starring Burt Reynolds? Siskel takes the sensible position of “thumbs down,” while Ebert—showing off the trash-friendly contrarian streak that’s defined his criticism—can’t seem to resist it.

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From the Vault: The Worst Movies of 1983

Few episodes of the PBS forerunner of At the Movies exist, but this clip from Siskel and Ebert and the Movies suggests why this modest program would become the most successful and copied film review show in television in history. Here the duo focus on sequels, including the timeless Jaws 3-D.

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Xtra Insight: Roger Ebert’s 2007 reflection on At the Movies