The Throwdown

One Thursday of each month is Throwdown day at Keith & the Movies. It’s when we take two movie subjects, pit them against each other, and see who’s left standing. On these Thursdays we’ll look at actors, actresses, movies, genres, scenes, and more. I’ll make a case for each and then see how they stand up one-on-one. And it’s not just my opinion that counts. I’ll share my take and then open up the polls to you. Visit each time for a new Throwdown. Vote each time to decide the true winner!

So many of you were like me and grew up watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert go back and forth on their 30 minute movie review program. Their show first took form in the mid 70s but it really took off during the mid 80s and since then has gone through several title changes and eventually new hosts. But the show’s true heydays were from the mid 80s through the 1990s when Siskel and Ebert argued and sparred over movies every week. They each approached their opinions of movies differently and their tastes were also often times at odds. That made for great television and both helped make film criticism what it is today. But as you know this is The Throwdown. That means I’m putting these two movie critic icons up against each other. So who did you side with the most? Who was the better critic? Was it Siskel or Ebert? As always, your votes decide!



Gene Siskel was born in Chicago and ended up landing a job at the Chicago Tribune in 1969. His film critic career launched thanks to a small local PBS movie review show where he first teamed up with Roger Ebert. Siskel had a wide range of movie favorites including Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese pictures. But I also remember him for his unpredictability. He often times would surprise you with the variety of movies he would like. I also loved the way he worded his reviews. He took the funniest jabs at movies he didn’t like and had a hilarious way of pushing Ebert’s buttons. He was calmer but razor-sharp and the way he dissected a film was both thought-provoking and often times hysterical. I still love listening to his takes and he remains one of my favorite film critics of all time. Sadly he passed away in 1999 due to complications from a cancerous brain tumor. He’s still missed to this day.

Roger Ebert’s film critic career dates all the way back to 1967 when he began writing movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times. In addition to his column he would go on to author numerous books including a yearly annual. He also became the first movie critic to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. But it was his television collaboration withe Gene Siskel that really catapulted him into the spotlight. Ebert was the more boisterous of the two and seemed to lose his temper more which made for some wonderful television. He’s very outspoken in his criticism or praise of a film and you can’t help but to be enthralled in his opinions even if they sometimes seem wildly inconsistent. Yet even when Ebert gets worked up, you can always sense the true passion he has about movies. Roger Ebert was a perfect opposite to Gene Siskel and even though you have to wade through some pretty outlandish stuff from him, he continues writing and reviewing films for movie fans even today.

Now its in your hands. Who gets the “Thumbs Up”? Is it Gene Siskel or Roger Ebert? Vote now on the poll below and please share your thoughts and comments on these two great movie critic icons.


  1. I like both and it’s too bad that Siskel had passed on. I guess I’d go with Ebert, his breath of knowledge about movies astounds me!

    • Ebert’s film knowledge is stunning. I still love reading his movie based work. Unfortunately I can’t follow the guy on Twitter. He sometimes puts some of the most outlandish nonsense on there.

      • Yeah I’m with you on that. I had to un-follow a bunch of people on Twitter recently. For me, if someone swears too much or being blasphemous about God, it’s an automatic un-follow. Sorry, I just don’t care to connect with rude and negative people.

  2. Siskel’s early passing has faded his memory for a lot of people, especially with all Ebert went through, and how the world embraced him afterwards.

    Truth is though, back then? Ebert was the dick of the show. I liked Siskel way better.

  3. I went thru different phases and sided with one or the other for periods of time. Both could be testy but I think Gene usually remembered that it was a show, and had a better sense of humor about it. Roger has irritated me for the last few years with his political bias intruding on the critic work. And since he hated my favorite movie of 2010 “Kick Ass”, I went with Gene.

    • You hit it on the head. His political bias is sometimes out of control these days. And when it bleeds over into his movie talk, it suffers. Great comments!

  4. Great post! Although I actually disagree with a LOT of Ebert’s reviews, his sheer passion is what made me vote for him. Some of his ‘Great Movies’ are just so beautifully and sensitively written, and his knowledge of cinema is unparalleled.

    • I also love his Great Movies work. Siskel is my personal choice but I don’t think he’ll win out here. Someone made a great point. They said that younger folks may not remember Siskel where as Ebert’s work is still being put out there. Either way both are great film guys!

  5. I don’t remember these guys too much, (my youth is showing?) but I do recall that Siskel allowed himself to be caught up with the excitement behind certain films. While Ebert sat there grumbling. Siskel was a bit more forgiving of certain movies. Which is how I am… so I think I could relate to that.

    Unless I’m remembering wrong. 😐

  6. I loved them when they were on. They genuinely did have a love/hate relationship. In the end I’m a Siskel man. He was down to earth and not pompous. It’s only recently that I have appreciated Ebert–mainly because of Twitter.

    • I’m with you with Siskel. He was definitely my favorite as well. I like Ebert as well but unlike you he has lost me a bit due to Twitter. I finally unfollowed him because of his non-movie stuff.

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