This week, Steve James‘ touching, moving portrait of Roger Ebert, “Life Itself,” will start rolling out to theatres. The documentary tells the rather incredible life story of the nation’s most famous and beloved film critic, the man who both wrote “Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls” and won a Pulitzer Prize for his criticism. But undoubtedly, one of the most key figures in Ebert’s life was Gene Siskel, with the pair first hitting the airwaves in September 1975 with a movie review show, clunkily named, “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You.” (Thank goodness they changed that.) And now you can watch how it all began.
With the documentary opening soon, there’s no better time than to sit back and see where all the bickering started between Siskel and Ebert. “Life Itself” does a terrific job at really exploring the contentious relationship that eventually found the enemies growing into (very competitive) friends, who respected each other deeply, even if when the cameras were rolling, they sparred heavily. Here, you can see them review “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and talk about cinema at the time in general, but without the chemistry they’d later generate. Still, it’s a fascinating time capsule and worth clicking below.