When I first saw the face above on WGBH, I was still in grade school. I grew up in a film town and it had its share of very respectable critics. The late Roger Ebert and his sparring partner Gene Siskel were the first to make me understand that the profession offered not just a chance to watch movies for a living, but an opportunity to champion the small gems that could be missed. In their heyday two thumbs up of approval, especially if they came with a passionately worded endorsement, could open an indie film like an A-list star opens a blockbuster.
I agreed with Ebert the most, but they both inspired me. I’ve spent most of my life working in movie theaters and writing reviews in an effort to grasp something like the advocative power they wielded. I understand the sheer delight that came with spreading word of something wonderful, and I’m grateful to them for pointing me in its direction. And of course, I also give thanks to Ebert for one of my favorite films, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Here’s hoping that if his spirit’s moved on to another plane, it’s a place full of well-endowed women.