We gave it an A
Movies have inspired all kinds of writing, from novels to gossip columns; from the dense, lumpy verbal soup of the film theorists to the bracing simplicity of, well… ”Two thumbs up!” It’s good to know that Ebert has come up with a more leisurely occupation for his overworked appendage: He’s been thumbing through fiction, memoirs, critical essays, letters, and showbiz confessions, compiling this fat anthology of movie criticism through the years. There’s Truman Capote in 1955, evoking a breathless and insecure Marilyn Monroe; Joan Didion awestruck by John Wayne (1965); John Updike on the hidden depths of Doris Day (1983); Janet Leigh looking back on her infamous shower scene in Psycho. There are also pieces you want to walk out of: Pauline Kael’s 1972 prose orgasm over Last Tango in Paris looks sillier than ever, but no sillier than Norman Mailer on the same subject. And many of the humor pieces are lame. Yet on the whole, the choices are sound and sometimes startling, and Roger Ebert’s Book of Film is full of revelations that you might never have stumbled across on your own.