Jim Siergey: Roger & Me

April 6th, 2021

On April 4, 2013 the revered film critic Roger Ebert passed away. On his blog this April 4 Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg reprinted a moving column he had written about Mr. Ebert’s passing.

Reading it reminded me that I once wrote to Roger Ebert, back when he was alive, of course. I’m not into spiritualism or ouija boards and if I were I don’t think Roger would be the first person I would consider contacting from the vast beyond.

Although, I could choose worse.

I am a great fan of the film The Third Man. I have seen it many times, both in bad prints on the big screen and restored prints. I recommend the restored version. I also own a DVD of the film and even watched it again recently when it was aired on TCM.

I can’t get enough of it.

If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a black and whiter from 1949 directed by Carol Reed, starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli and Orson Welles who makes the most dramatic and memorable entrance into a film ever (Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy is a close but distant second). Another star of the film is the zither music of Anton Karas.

I’m getting a bit cine-nerdy here so I shall cease.

jimboutonlonggoodbye

Apropos to nothing–Jim Bouton was in The Long Goodbye…

 

Anyway, I had recently viewed another film I greatly enjoy, The Long Goodbye. It is directed by Robert Altman and stars Elliott Gould. I had always thought that the ending of this film was Altman’s left-handed compliment to the ending of The Third Man.

I had read several reviews of the film but none of them mentioned this concept that I thought was quite obvious. I had come across Roger Ebert’s website so I wrote to him, posing my opinion. Lo and behold, he wrote back! Either that or one of his underlings did but I prefer to think that it was Roger.

In his response, Roger wrote that he had recently viewed the film again because he was including it in his next book of Great Movies and this time he had come to the same conclusion that I did and didn’t know why he didn’t the first time he saw it.

Cynics might say that he had that thought because my email had just put the thought in his head but I shall give the great man the benefit of any doubt.  I always try to be the bigger person.

I’ve never seen the Great Movies volume that includes The Long Goodbye so I don’t know if he gave a nod or a tip o’the hat to me regarding the Third Man connection but I’m sure it’s there in tiny tiny tiny tiny print, found perhaps on the slivery edge of the page.

By the way, if any reader of this stuff I write has not seen either film you would do yourself a favor by doing so. View The Third Man first, of course.

You could choose worse.

 

Editor’s note: Jim’s last piece for The Third City was A Bad Day

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