The Movie Reviews

October 15, 1999

Here are excerpts from some of Gene Siskel's more than 5,000 Tribune movie reviews. They provide a primer to a remarkable period in this first century of film.


Aug. 5, 1969

Note: This was Gene Siskel's first movie review for the Tribune, a month before he was officially named the paper's movie critic. At the time, the Tribune did not use a star-rating for movies.

Walt Disney Productions, after adapting (Sterling) North's book, gives us a raccoon so talented that you wonder if Gentle Ben and Flipper aren't under-achievers. Bill Mumy, who annoyed you in TV's "Lost in Space," gets his role of the young Sterling North confused with that of the raccoon and sets some sort of record by pursing his lips for the entire 85 minutes.


Dec. 9, 1969

(0 stars)

"All the Loving Couples" is a tawdry, occasionally out-of-focus exploitation film that would bore a grind house operator.

. . . The dialogue sounds like it was written by a foul-mouthed wino who got hold of a 1940 joke book. Everyone associated with this insult to the film industry and State Street -- the people who made it and the people who booked it -- should have their mouths washed out with soap."


Dec. 29, 1969

(star) (star) (star) (star)

Mass movie audiences have been complaining about foreign films for years. Whether their displeasure is warranted or not is not important. It exists and thousands of people continually refuse to see "one of those foreign things with sub-titles."

A different kind of foreign film opened here Friday. It is a great film for many reasons, not the least of which is that it can be enjoyed as a political thriller as well as a political statement.


Jan. 2, 1970

(star) (star) (star) 1/2

There is no question that this film is flawed by the inclusion of the party scene and Ratzo's dream, but I cannot recall a more marvelous pair of acting performances in any one film. Dustin Hoffman deserves the Oscar for a role that is prickly on the outside, but tender on the inside.


March 30, 1970

(star) (star) (star) (star)

For me, "M*A*S*H" contains as much depression as humor. I don't think I ever recovered after a soldier says about a Korean, "he's a prisoner of war."

The reply is, "So are you."


Oct. 23, 1971

(star) (star) (star) (star)

What is more striking about the film is that its secondary characters are also real. The acting appears to be non-acting. . . . Karen Black is a letter-perfect Rayette, and Lois Smith, as Robert's sister, gives the most sensitive small performance in the film.

(Jack) Nicholson makes it all go. He proves he is more than a "character actor" with many scenes, especially the confrontation with his father.


Nov. 8, 1971

(star) (star) (star) (star)

Good films about modern American crimes have been few and far between in the last half-dozen years, and "The French Connection" beautifully fills the void.

There is only one problem with the excitement generated by this film. After it is over, you will walk out of the theater and, as I did, curse the tedium of your own life.

I kept looking for someone who I could throw up against a wall.


Feb. 11, 1972

(star) (star) (star) (star)

When we watch Alex sing "Singin' in the Rain" as he kicks and clubs a man we have two reactions: first that Alex is rotten, and second that Kubrick is clever.

The second reaction, in many but not all of the opening six violent scenes, gets in the way of the first. And though it wouldn't be as much fun to watch, I wish for the sake of the film's argument that Alex's initial violence had been presented with more horror and less wit.

. . . Kubrick's contributions are his wit and his eye. The wit, too much at times, is as biting as in "Dr. Strangelove," and the production, while of another order, is as spectacular as in "2001."


March 24, 1972

(star) (star) (star) (star)

Yes, it's very good, but Brando is hardly the reason.

"The Godfather," now and maybe forever at the Chicago Theater, ends with a door being closed in the face of the audience, and it is because we have been behind that door for nearly three hours that the film has such remarkable appeal. To permit us a glimpse at The Mob, with all of its ethnic insularity, is like giving a chronic gambler a chance to wander above the false mirrors that overlook every casino.


Dec. 21, 1973

(star) (star) (star)

To say that Woody Allen's "Sleeper" is the year's best comedy isn't saying much: It's virtually the only comedy. . . .

"Sleeper" has plenty of bald spots, lacks the inspired silent comedy of "Take the Money and Run," but, these days, comedy beggars can't be choosers. Woody Allen is about all we've got. And Woody, please stay healthy.


Dec. 28, 1973

(star) (star) (star) (star)