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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If Pauline Kael popularized “movie love,” Roger Ebert is the eloquent Valentino of cinephiles. This invaluable volume gathers 100 of the Pulitzer winner's mini-essays composed since 1997, revised and updated, to form a love letter that could only spring from decades of devotion. A feat of superlative analysis, historical reflection, personal diary, and journalistic odyssey, The Great Movies combines an accessible style with an academic’s precision. Accompanied by photos perfectly chosen by Museum of Modern Art film stills archivist Mary Corliss, the 100 films are irrefutably worthy of inclusion, allowing room for debate (John Ford’s My Darling Clementine is in, The Searchers is not--arguably a wise decision) while placing each film into its own undeniable context of superiority. Admirably, Ebert recognizes that no critic writes in a vacuum; he dedicates the book to eight master critics hailed as “teachers,” quotes many of his contemporaries, and carries on the debate with Kael’s lingering spirit (Ebert counters her on Body Heat, praises her on Nashville). His appreciation of E.T. is written as a letter to beloved children in his life, and the entire book breathes with an awareness of legacy--the cinema’s and Ebert’s own--that underlies the sobering theme of his introduction. We need these movies (and this book) to remind us that movies can be so much better than they typically are. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Culled from essays famed film critic Ebert has been writing biweekly for the last two years, the 100 pieces here tell us what's so great about Casablanca, The Seventh Seal, The Wizard of Oz, and more.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (November 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767910389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767910385
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roger Ebert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic from the Chicago Sun-Times. His reviews are syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and Canada. The American Film Institute and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have awarded him honorary degrees and the Online Film Critics Society named his Web site (rogerebert.com) the best online movie review site

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

174 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Christian Wheeler on May 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This new book, by prominent movie critic Roger Ebert, is likely to ignite discussion and debate over his 100 selections. The debate shouldn't be over whether or not these are the 100 greatest movies ever, since the author establishes in the introduction that these are simply 100 great movies, and not necessarily what he considers the best. The debate, then, will likely be over why he considers some of the films to be great. Some of the choices will brook little argument: "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane," "Gone With the Wind," "Battleship Potemkin," "The Godfather," and many others profiled are often at or near the top of most "great movies" lists. Even some of the more "obscure" entries, such as "Woman in the Dunes" and "Gates of Heaven" are generally known to most film buffs and accepted by critics as fine filmmaking. Ebert's intent, it seems, is to make people aware of WHY "The Godfather" and other well-known films are so imbued into our consciousness, and to raise awareness of other, often forgotten classics. Terrence Malick's often overlooked "Days of Heaven" is just begging to be rediscovered, as is Fassbinder's haunting "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul," Powell's frightening "Peeping Tom," and Lang's wrenching "M." Ebert gives each film a two or three page review, explaining many things of interest, including casting problems (Orson Welles over Noel Coward in "The Third Man", for example), production difficulties, and sometimes, each film's immediate or long-term impact (such as how "It's A Wonderful Life" rose from obscurity to become a holiday classic, or the resurrection of "The Shawshank Redemption" on home video). In addition, there are discussions of symbolism, controversies, directorial styles and quirks, and much more.Read more ›
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "weirdo_87" on April 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As I was reading some of Roger Ebert's essays in this book, a thought occurred to me: All the movies in this book could have been failures for one reason or another. "Apocalypse Now" was very costly and troubled and could have been easily ruined. "2001" might have been too different for audiences to handle. "Psycho" might have been too much for them to stomach. And some of these movies in the book were not as renowned upon their original release and seemed doomed for obscurity. And so on. Yet, after years of research and analyze by critics, all of these are now acclaimed films.
The reason is not due to a memorable scene or a witty catchphrase (Which all the above-mentioned films have). It is because of the passion involved in making them. Many of the people working on these movies became so involved in them that they would die just to finish the film, and would drive others mad in the process. Many of them were also willing to try something new or not give in to peer pressure or criticism. And some, like the late Billy Wilder, said they only made films that they wanted to see. The involvement in the film extends beyond the director and into the actors. The actors have fun with their roles, trying out new techniques and becoming so involved with the character that they become him. Let's take for example a catchphrase, such as "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse". The line has entered largely into our lives so much that we take it for granted. Yet I am still moved whenever I hear it said by Marlon Brando. Yet, had it not been for the correct timing, tone of voice, rate of speech and pronunciation (All due to acting and direction), it could have been easily wasted.
Ebert never really states this in his book, but he seems to be making that point across just by glancing at any review.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dan Sherman VINE VOICE on March 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any sort of list of "great" movies (or anything else for that matter) is surely going to raise questions of what is included or what is excluded. This is an excellent book, and my guess is that most readers who like movies (and not just what has played in the past five years or so) are going to find many of their favorites here, along with some movies that they have never seen or perhaps even heard of. Ebert is an excellent writer, and with a 3-4 page discussion for each movie, he concisely sketches the plot of each film and really tries to identify what makes the movie worth watching -- the script, the performances, the look of the film, etc. His chapters (really short essays about individual films) are much more than "book reports" and really bring out what there is to love about these films. For me, reading this book was like getting reaquainted with some old friends and getting to know some new ones. This is a nice book that can be happily dipped into many times -- the only complaint about the book is that it is too short, both in terms of the length of writeups and the number of films it covers. I suspect Ebert could write another book to describe what is worthwhile about 100 other films (great of near great)-- Let's hope he does!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Brooke276 on March 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
For once -- a collection of true film essays rather than "star reviews" or valueless blurbs. Ebert is, for my money, the best essayist inthe country, largely because he combines wit, intellect, and a clear understanding of film history. His imagination, especially in these essays, goes back into the past to discover, or rather, re-discover, the films that influenced our culture, current cinema, or even just Roger himself. These are great films -- musts for all buffs -- and they provide a starting point for debates about the greatest of all-time. As he no doubt intends, these films are not THE best, but rather a source of stimulation; a beginning of debate, which is all lists should do anyway.
My only complaint, however, has nothing to do with the writing or selection of films, but rather has everything to do with the necessity of buying this book. After all, all of these essays are available on his website, free of charge. While I would love to keep Mr. Ebert in comfort buy purchasing this manual, it simply doesn't make sense. I would have preferred that he write at least several (a dozen, perhaps?) new essays that are exclusive to this book.
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