Factual errors that Roger Ebert has made

Hardy har. I loved that movie.

Shades of Michael Moore!

Ebert’s original review of Yentl gave it three and a half stars.

Is it possible you’re misremembering the original Siskel & Ebert program, or confusing it with one of the rip-offs (Jeff Lyons and Michael Medved perhaps)?

Ebert’s review of Aliens says nothing of the kind. His “Great Movie” review of he first “Alien” mentions Howard Hawks’ “The Thing” as an influence, which frankly is not much of a stretch.

Come on, folks … practically every review the man ever wrote is available online. In a thread specifically devoted to pointing out inaccuracies, is it too much bother to surf over to RogerEbert.com and check your own facts?

That is what I said! :smiley:

Ok, I’ll stop with the “jokes”, now.

It wasn’t his original review of Aliens. IIRC, it was in his book I Really, Really, Really Hated This Movie, and he definitely did say it.

When you don’t even have the name of the book right…

Not only is this not an issue of fact, it’s not even an issue of credibility. It’s just a matter of opinion.

In any case, this isn’t an instance of a factual error. It’s his opinion about how similar the movies are that you disagree with.

  1. The book is called I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie.
  2. Aliens isn’t in it (not surprisingly, since Ebert gave it a thumbs up), although *Alien Resurrection * is.
  3. Even that review doesn’t contain anything resembling your quote about the film being a remake of *The Thing * and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

A bigger problem is that Ebert’s review passed over bigger problems in the movie. He actually panned the few things that did make sense, ironically enough.

Sorry, folks, I’m doing this from memory without the booksd in front of me, but Ebert definitely did state what I credit him with in one of his books. I started a thread on this at the time the book came out, but it was a few years ago. And it is a factual error to claim that Alien, The Thing, and Body Snatchers are all versions of the same story.

In his review of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ebert seems to think *The Salmon of Doubt * was one of the Hitchhiker books. It was actually an unfinished Dirk Gently novel. And yes, this is nitpicking on my part, since Ebert openly admitted his ignorance of Adams’s work in the review. But it’s the only factual error I can recall at the moment . . .

Not really, since the only times I’ve read him lump them together is when he complains that aliens would probably have better things to do with their time than be evil, a link that those 3 movies do share.

I can’t find my posts using the Search feature – evidently it’s too old.

It might have been one of his Video Companions (now his Yearbooks) that had the quote: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0836236882/qid=1121092904/sr=1-20/ref=sr_1_20/002-2229313-4816050?v=glance&s=books

But I don’t own the book, so I can’t look it up, and the relevant page isn’t on Amazon.
[quuote]Not really, since the only times I’ve read him lump them together is when he complains that aliens would probably have better things to do with their time than be evil, a link that those 3 movies do share.

Nope - he actually says that “this movie has been made three times” befoewe citing the films – he’s clearly implying that they are all versions of the same story, not simply that the aliens had better things to do.

It might have been critic’s broad sweep – not intending to literall suggest that they were the same film or from the same source, but that they were too similar. But as worded, it cleaqtrly implied that they were all versions of the same story. And, even as a broad sweep, it’s inaccurate. By no stretch is Body Snatchers the same as Alien or Aliens. And The Thing is significantly different itself.

OK, I’ve dug up CalMeacham’s quote. It’s from Ebert’s review of The Thing, and it looks like Cal has a case:

Note that while Ebert is wrong WRT “Body Snatchers,” he does not mention Aliens (it hadn’t been made yet), and Alien certainly owes some kind of debt to “Who Goes There?”.

Since the topic was apparently initiated by a comment of mine in another thread, I was interested to see what would develop, but I’m not really sure where this thread is heading.

My original concern was a claim that Ebert often does not watch the entirety of a movie that he is reviewing. Another post claimed that it is “well-known” in the Chicago community that he makes long trips to the snack bar. I asked for solid proof of this.

I’m not sure that pointing out factual errors in his reviews is solid proof that he doesn’t watch a movie. There are many other explanations – he doesn’t pay close attention; he misses things while taking notes; he sees versions of movies that are changed before general release; or (what might be more common than not) many movies do not clearly communicate important points in a manner that is readily understandable to a casual moviegoer (as opposed to someone who has, say, read the book or other supplemental materials, or has viewed the movie more than once, or is keenly interested in the subject and paid special attention).

That aside, if we’re still interested in cataloguing errors in his reviews, can we stick to actual errors regarding events depicted on film rather than perceived errors in his analysis or conclusions about a movie? If you disagree with his thoughts about a movie (how similar it was to other movies) then that is hardly proof that he wasn’t paying adequate attention (either because he was at the snack bar or something else).

Many thanks, Nonsuch – As I said, I don’t have the book (and if I had, it wouldn’t be at work). I still can’t let him off the hook on “Alien” – his wording insists that it was based on Campbell’s story. while it’s true that the claustrophobic atmosphere and “creature on the loose” in a closed environment almost certainly had some influence on the film Alien, most folks feel, as I noted above, that Alien is basically ripped off from Jerome Bixby’s monster-on-the-spaceship flick It! The Terror from Beyond Space, to which it owes a helluva lot more.

What he actually says is,

He doesn’t actually claim that Salmon is one of the Hitchhiker books. He sort of implies it, but since you nitpicked first. . .

He does call them scientists. Ebert says

This is wrong. While yes, most of my review of the review is a rant that is a factual mistake about the movie. Just like the OP was asking for.

Yeah, acsenray, I don’t think this thread will provide the proof that you were looking for.

I read Ebert’s reviews a lot, so I was a bit taken aback by Rickjay’s comment. But it looks like Ebert doesn’t make factual mistakes THAT often. Maybe I’d see it differently if I were a more hardcore cinephile.

As for whatever mistake I believe I caught him in, none of the responses are ringing any bells. Perhaps it may have been the Raising Victor Vargas misquote, but I thought it was something more glaring than that. Either way, I find the discussion interesting. Nitpickery, sure, but it’s not like Dopers haven’t been accused of that before.