He wrote this opening paragraph in his review of Wild Orchid in 1990: "We engage in a conspiracy of silence about erotic movies. We discuss their plots, their characters, the truthfulness of their words. We never discuss whether they arouse us - whether we're turned on. Critics are the worst offender, occupying some Olympian peak above the field of battle, pretending that the film in question failed to engage their intelligence, when what we want to know is whether it engaged their libido."
Few were ever as candid, and as a result inspired so many.
Ebert influenced an entire generation of not just film critics but writers and lovers of the arts. As a kid I religiously watched his TV show, and read his reviews. The man loved movies, and never once sounded like a jaded, cynical critic who consumed film because it was his job. It wasn't a labor of love. It was pure love.
Upon his passing one thing that always struck me about Ebert was often he gave a positive review to a film that was often times known more for its toplessness. It appears that Roger really enjoyed watching movies where actresses took off their shirts - here, here!
If the movie had warnings such as "R" or "SSC", Ebert was down.
It should be noted that Ebert would rate films according to genre. In his mind, there was such a thing as a good slasher flick, a good action movie, etc. Not every movie had to be about the Holocaust to receive a precious "Thumbs Up".
Ebert liked the 1980s half-skin flick, 9 1/2 Weeks. Fans of this movie know it for one thing and one thing only, an in-her-prime Kim Basinger dancing around a in-his-prime and always quietely annoying Mickey Rourke. No, Basinger didn't wear very much ... although I may need to do some research to make sure my memory is accurate.
In his defense, Ebert was not just some horny dude who signed off on every Zalman King film, or even Showgirls. It had to be good for its genre. For instance, Porky's, and The Blue Lagoon, Ebert took a pass. The sex scenes weren't funny in Porky's, and The Blue Lagoon was "the dumbest movie of the year".
Not many critics would have been so daring to just admit what he fearlessly announce - he liked the skin flick, too.
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