If the truth be told, I have generally avoided Roger Ebert over the years. Perhaps it was because while growing up I had a resentment against critics that generally trashed a good majority of the genre films I enjoyed watching with family and friends. In my view if films weren’t Oscar material they usually got bad marks. They never seemed to be reviewed from the point of view of their intended audience.
Of course he had the TV show with Gene Siskel and I watched it for a while but it kind of fell off my radar over the years. I have seen many of Ebert’s books on the shelves and other than looking at the cover have never ventured into the written words on the page.
Which brings us to this book written by Roger in 1984.
The cover caught my eye because it was in great shape and I knew it was an older book. According to the inside sleeve it was his first full length release. The deal maker in my purchasing it was that it was not a book of reviews but a recollection of hanging out and trying to interview the likes of Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis and Richard Harris.
Apparently there are published interviews from these meetings but these chapters were more about the event itself. Hanging out with John Wayne and playing chess with the Duke. Going to a private showing of Rocky II with Muhammad Ali to here just what “The Greatest” thought of the Italian Stallion and how Ali felt that Apollo Creed was a thinly disguised variation on Ali himself.
Getting lost in the hills of Pennsylvania while looking for a movie set with Robert Mitchum. Tony Curtis selling a movie at Cannes. Kirk Douglas in 1969 striving to remain a Champion in films. Both Lee Marvin and Kris Kristofferson on two separate occasions, before and after sobriety. Charles Bronson on the set of Mr. Majestyk in 1974.
Chatting with Eastwood in his own restaurant where one could order a Dirty Harry burger or an Eiger Sandwich. Listening to how Clint deals with his admiring public. Being in the presence of Orson Welles but only getting to meet Kermit the Frog. Herzog on Fitzcarraldo. Scorsese stops by as does Jerry Lewis around the time of The King of Comedy.
A trip to Venice in 1972 at what had to have been a wonderful event for film fans. It was a tribute to the films of Chaplin and the great man himself was there. Reminiscing about Ingrid Bergman and Marilyn Monroe.
Yes I did skip a few pages because I’m not a fan of the subject but I won’t mention any names. Woo……no I’m not going to say his name. Let’s just say I’m not a fan.
The nice thing about this book is that it reminded me that Ebert was a fan at heart. Add in the fact that he got to hang out with some of the coolest stars of any era (paging Robert Mitchum!) has to count for something. Still I’m not overly interested in reading a book of Ebert’s reviews.
The irony is that I’m out here basically reviewing films but I believe I do it from a fan’s point of view with some trivia thrown in. I try to share the enjoyment of films with others as opposed to giving something a 1 out of 10 and tearing it apart which I still think goes on in print today……”ok Mike settle down.”
Good book, fun stories, cinema icons. Worked for me.