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Creator / Gene Siskel

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Eugene Kal Siskel (January 26, 1946 February 20, 1999) was the film critic for the Chicago Tribune from 1969 until his death. Along with Roger Ebert, he was one-half of the weekly film review show Siskel & Ebert: At the Movies. The two of them rated films with a simple system: thumbs up or down, with a brief discussion of a film's strengths and/or weaknesses before presenting a verdict.

The show propelled both Siskel and Ebert to nationwide acclaim, including appearances on The Tonight Show, and made both two of the most influential voices in American film criticism (and thus arguably all cultural criticism in the late 20th/early 21st century).

Siskel died in 1999 of complications following surgery to remove a brain tumor. He'd announced a leave of absence from At the Movies two weeks prior. Ebert frequently referred to his friend and colleague in his essays until his own death in 2013.

  • Insult to Rocks: Discussing Ishtar on their Worst of '87 special, Gene Siskel said "I just saw Road to Morocco, and it is funnier than Ishtar—of course, that's really, I guess, an insult to Road to Morocco. Anything is funnier than Ishtar—except Leonard Part 6."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Siskel generally came off as the Red Oni to Ebert's Blue Oni. Ebert's tastes tended to be more highbrow, and Siskel's more mainstream, as exemplified by their all-time favorite films: La Dolce Vita for Ebert, Saturday Night Fever for Siskel. Interestingly, this contrasts strongly with their personal backgrounds—Siskel graduated from Yale with a philosophy degree, while University of Illinois grad Ebert had a working class background.
  • Rule of Two: Deliberately, giving the nature of his and Ebert's profession, and to provide ambience. On the duo's many numerous talkshow appearances, for example (mainly on ''David Letterman 's' ' "Late Night" and "Late Show"), a short piece would accompany them on stage - in the case of their Letterman spots - either "Under My Thumb" (a reference to the duo's famous "Thumbs Up/Down" rating system" or the saxophone solo from "Just the Two of Us". Understandably ceased once Ebert started making solo appearances after Siskel's passing.
  • Walking Out on the Show: He walked out of Million Dollar Duck, Maniac, and Black Sheep.


Video Example(s):


Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, discussing and debating the week's new films. Many modern day critics -- from professional mainstream critics to internet reviewers -- owe themselves to these two.

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Main / CausticCritic

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