'Opposable Thumbs' author talks new book about famous dueling Chicago film critics

ByHosea Sanders and Marsha Jordan WLS logo
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Author talks new book about famous dueling Chicago film critics
"Opposable Thumbs" book author Matt Singer spoke with ABC7 about the legacy Roger Ebert and Gene Ebert.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever" is a new book about the Chicago film critics who famously talked about movies from across the aisle on TV for decades.

Roger Ebert also covered movies at ABC7 and at the Chicago Sun-Times, without Gene Ebert by his side, for years. Author Matt Singer spoke with ABC7 about he became a fan of their show while growing up on the East Coast.

"It was two guys who loved, and knew a lot about movies, and had very strong opinions about them, talking about them, every week," Singer said. "They had this incredible chemistry, they figured out a way to take this legitimate rivalry, tension that existed between them and they found a way to turn that into a compelling television show."

As Singer told ABC7, the two will always be best known as a dueling cinematic pair.

"They could give two thumbs up, and then have a fascinating conversation and disagree about why it was thumbs up. They could both like a movie like 'Wall Street,' and then spend the entire review debating what were the best parts," Singer said. "Hoop Dreams, you would be watching the show and say, 'I have to see this movie now.'"

Siskel and Ebert have also spoken about their relationship.

"He's an only child. He's a star at his newspaper. He's a star at his newspaper and television station. I'm the only guy who says, 'Roger, you're wrong,'" Siskel said.

"I hated to break it to him, he was not the only person in my life who told me I was wrong. But, he certainly worked at it longer and with more effect," Ebert said.

So, who does Singer like best?

"Perhaps as a fan of Siskel & Ebert, the writers, I would have to say I'm a bigger Ebert fan, but going back, I would have to say going back, watching hundreds of episodes of the show for the book, that love of the connection between the two of them it came right back and I really admired Gene all over again watching," Singer said.

Singer is in town on Tuesday night for a book event at the Siskel Film Center, but it's now sold out!

You can get still copy of 'Opposable Thumbs" there when you're seeing movies, the ultimate legacy of Siskel & Ebert.