There have been many efforts to preserve movies and film history but few to record the history of movie reviews. The days when movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert would spar over a thumbs up or thumbs down rating may be gone but a new site is making an effort to preserve the duo’s works. The stated goal of SiskelandEbert.org is “to rebuild each of the Siskel and Ebert series as comprehensively as possible. As such, our website serves as a repository for people to donate copies from their Siskel and Ebert collection, expressly for this purpose.”
Apparently, the producers of the duo’s early programs — Opening Soon… At a Theater Near You, Sneak Previews, and Tribune’s version of At the Movies — didn’t save masters of these shows. So, unless collectors or those associated with the programs have private copies, they are gone forever. In addition, now that the final incarnation of Disney’s At the Movies has ended, the house of mouse has taken down their show archives.
The new Siskel and Ebert site is a treasure trove of film review history and you’ll quickly find yourself watching reviews of your favorite movies.
Here’s the very first episode of Opening Soon… at a Theater Near You. It aired in November of 1975 on WTTW, a PBS station in Chicago. The boys are pretty green at this point in their television careers but you can see just a glimpse of the competitive nature that helped them become so endearing.
What do you think? Are you glad the duo’s legacy is being preserved? Do you have a favorite memory of their shows? Who was the better reviewer — Siskel or Ebert?