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Gene Siskel Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (6)  | Trivia (38)  | Personal Quotes (21)

Overview (5)

Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died in Evanston, Illinois, USA  (complication from brain surgery)
Birth NameEugene Kal Siskel
Nickname The Bald Guy
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Gene Siskel was born on January 26, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Eugene Kal Siskel. He was married to Marlene Siskel. He died on February 20, 1999 in Evanston, Illinois.

Spouse (1)

Marlene Siskel (1980 - 20 February 1999) ( his death) ( 3 children)

Trade Mark (6)

Distinctive style of writing
Name always appeared before Roger Ebert's
Always ended interviews with the question, "What do you know for sure?"
Known for his extreme dislike at films that showed children being in danger
Being taller than Ebert.
Often worked with Roger Ebert.

Trivia (38)

Interred at Westlawn Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Purchased the white disco suit from Saturday Night Fever (1977) at a charity auction.
Once told David Letterman that if he were trapped on a deserted island with only one film to watch, that film would be 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
The last five movies he reviewed on At the Movies (1986) before his death (for the week ending 23 January 1999) were At First Sight (1999), Another Day in Paradise (1998), The Hi-Lo Country (1998), Playing by Heart (1998) and The Theory of Flight (1998). He gave a thumbs up to all of them, except for Playing by Heart (1998).
Considered the film Cannonball Run II (1984) to be the worst movie he had ever seen.
One of his proudest moments was when viewing the Chris Farley-David Spade vehicle Black Sheep (1996), he walked out right before the end for the first time in 27 years, saying "It was a real high." Later on the show, Roger remarked he wished he had done the same. There was some controversy over his claim that he hadn't walked out on a movie in 27 years because he had mentioned walking out on other films in the period between them, most memorably the 1980 ultraviolent slasher film "Maniac". However, he later clarified that he hadn't walked out any films he had been assigned to cover for either the Chicago Tribune or his TV shows with Roger Ebert; the films he'd left in disgust were those that he and Ebert included in their show as "Dogs of the Week", movies that were not covered through their regular writing tasks. "Black Sheep" was the 1st film that was assigned as a feature review for his column and TV show AND that drove him in disgust from seeing the entire film.
Hated nothing worse than trying to watch a movie while a baby in the theatre is crying. Hated any mother who would bring an infant to a movie theatre and is willing to pay $10 to any usher who would chuck the baby out of the theatre along with its negligent mother.
Agreed with long-time colleague Roger Ebert on the best film of 1990 (Goodfellas (1990)) and the worst films of 1980 (I Spit on Your Grave (1978)) and 1994 (North (1994)).
Was one of the few critics to give the Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs (1991) a negative review.
The last review he ever wrote was for the Freddie Prinze Jr./'Rachael Leigh Cook' vehicle She's All That (1999). He gave it three stars and a positive review (Roger was against it), and the last line was about Cook's breakthrough performance: "I look forward to seeing her in her next movie".
Grew up in the Chicago North Shore town of Glencoe, Illinois. Graduated from Culver Military Academy (Battery A) in 1963.
Of the three At The Movies hosts (Siskel/Ebert/Roeper), he was the only one that wasn't employed by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Was a huge fan of the Chicago Bulls and often covered sports and interviews for local television.
While at Yale, he often dressed as Batman and paid people surprise visits. He was able to keep his identity secret for a week.
Majored in Philosophy at Yale.
In his review for Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), he said he could hardly wait for the next Star Wars movie. He died just three months before the release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
Just over a year before his death, the special edition 15th Anniversary DVD of The Thing (1982) has star Kurt Russell and director John Carpenter use his famous line in the commentary, at the end. "See you at the movies!".
His favorite movie villain was the "Hal 9000" computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Says he has only ever walked out of three movies in his career as a film critic. The movies were The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Maniac (1980), and Black Sheep (1996).
When he and Roger Ebert were screening Fargo (1996) in 1996, he got up from his seat in the middle and tiptoed over to Roger and whispered in his ear: "This is why I go to the movies".
Is referenced, along with Roger Ebert, in Bloodhound Gang's song The Bad Touch.
His parents were Russian Jewish immigrants.
He and Roger Ebert had the same choices for best film of the year nine times.
He was considerably taller than his co-host, Roger Ebert.
He was widely known to be a very private man.
While praising the film School Ties (1992) on his show with Roger Ebert, he recalled experiencing anti-Semitic prejudice during his time at prep school. The example he gave was that one time someone handed him a piece of toast with the jam in the shape of a swastika. He gave thumbs up to movie but said that it was a tough experience watching it.
Had a brother William and a sister Arlene.
Selected The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) as the two best films of 1988, despite not awarding either film a perfect four stars. But movies lower on his list did get a perfect score by him.
Awarding a film a perfect four star score was a somewhat rarity for Gene.
One month after being hired as the Chicago Tribune's film critic, he wrote a negative review for the popular Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). His boss came by his desk and noticed the review and and asked Gene: "How could you give a Paul Newman movie a negative review." He distinctly remembered that day.
Gave the theatrical version of Once Upon a Time In America (1984) 1.5 stars out of 4. But the rerelease some months later with different construction topped his lists of the "Best Films of 1984" and "Best Films of the Decade.".
Eight films Gene called "best of the year" did not make Roger Ebert's annual list.
He was one of the few people along with Roger Ebert to like Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997). He received a lot of flak for it.
He remarked that his writing style has always been like a beat reporter covering the news of "a fire. And the fire is this movie".
While being guests with Roger Ebert at an episode of Donahue (1967) in the early 1990s, the two critics were asked what was the worst film they have seen. Siskel launched into tirade about how much he detested Drop Dead Fred (1991), while Ebert picked I Spit on Your Grave (1978).
Two years in a row a movie he gave thumbs to down won Best Picture Oscar: first The Silence of the Lambs (1991) then Unforgiven (1992).
His favorite film was Saturday Night Fever (1977).

Personal Quotes (21)

I always ask myself, 'Is the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?'
Fargo (1996) was the last great film that I saw.
On Daylight (1996): As a measure of my boredom, about halfway through this picture I became distracted by a man down the aisle from from me who was eating some candy, and I tried to guess the candy he was eating by the sounds he was making. Those sounds were more interesting to me than anything going on on the screen in Daylight (1996).
On Rocky (1976): "The best movie of the year? Hardly. Stallone as the next Marlon Brando? You've gotta be kidding. A nice little fantasy picture? Maybe..."
On the French comedy Little Indian, Big City (1994) ("Little Indian, Big City"): If the missing reel had been footage from Orson Welles 'The Magnificent Ambersons,' this whole experience would still have sucked. (When Gene & Roger went to see this movie, the entire third reel was missing. They saw the rest a week later.)
On the 1998 summer blockbuster hit BASEketball (1998): "This is one of those movies that is usually seen on the big jumbo-tron screen in a sports bar during the day - when everyone is quite drunk. Unfortunately, I was sober when I saw this movie."
On the summer comedy Meet the Deedles (1998): "Boy, was this an annoying experience. For the rest of my life, I may have a negative physical reaction whenever anyone mentions the title characters... The gags are pathetic, including the worm-eating... I did not laugh or crack a smile once. Giving this movie a negative review is not merely part of job, it's a public service. You have been warned."
On the 1998 Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy (1998): "It's junk. And Adam Sandler is annoying. And that irritating phony speech impediment of his that he has throughout this movie... I'm not even going to imitate it, but... is THAT supposed to be funny?"
On the 'Robin Williams' bio-vehicle Patch Adams (1998): "This is an annoying and cloying look and attack on the impersonal way doctors treat their patients. The problem is after seeing a glimse of Williams' personal treatment, we would settle for IMpersonal treatment! I would rather turn my head and cough than see any part of 'Patch Adams' again. The title of this movie should have been 'Punch Adams!'"
I'm in a hurry to get well, because I don't want Roger to get more screen time than I.
On Blade Runner (1982): I felt that this film was a waste of time. Pretty to look at, but a waste of time!
On the movie North (1994): Well, I mean, I think you got to hold Rob Reiner's feet to the fire here. I mean, he's the guy in charge. He's saying that this is entertainment. It's deplorable. I mean, there isn't a gag that works. You couldn't write worse jokes if I told you to write worse jokes. The ethnic stereotyping is appalling. It's - it's embarrassing. You feel unclean as you're sitting there. It's junk! First class junk!!
Roger [Ebert] is the only guy I know who answers 'yes' to every question he is asked at McDonald's.
[When asked what his favorite movie is] It's not one of my all-time favorite questions. That's why Citizen Kane (1941) is such a great answer - it ends the discussion.
Oh! The pictures I've seen!
[Mr Potter, the villain of It's a Wonderful Life (1946)] He's a cold terror.
[in 1990, on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] It's people who have a couple of movie credits, basically, they live in Orange County, and they're rich and they're white... A lot of them have not seen the films that they're voting for.
There is a point when a personal opinion shades off into an error of fact. When you say The Valachi Papers (1972) is a better film than The Godfather (1972), you are wrong.
Selecting this film as number one is not a stunt. My criteria for this honor has always been that film which best expresses the joy of filmmaking and expands our notion of what a movie can be. This is a rare sequel that is better than the original, and I recommend you rent and see the original Babe (1995) first to fully comprehend what Australian director George Miller has accomplished here in creating a fantastic urban platform for Babe, the talking pig, to save an assortment of animal friends and his family from extinction in one imaginatively staged action sequence after another that involved manipulating real, animatronic and computer-generated creatures through a series of precisely orchestrated scenes. This is a movie that could trigger young audiences to want to make their own movies. And isn't that one thing that a "number one" movie should do? As for the debate over whether Babe: Pig in the City (1998) may frighten young children, my own 3 1/2-year-old son had a different reaction. He exclaimed, "Look, Daddy, that dog is talking!" Director Miller has also made the "Mad Max" movies; the "Babe" pictures have a similar energy and a whole lot more charm.
[on My Dinner With Andre (1981)] Here's a film that really cherishes the value of the spoken word.
["Siskel & Ebert" segment reviewing Babe: Pig in the City (1998)] This is a wonderful movie. Just look. We're dazzled by it. You take any five or ten minute piece and just think about the amount of work that went into the look, the psychical aspect, the wit of the writing.

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