How Siskel and Ebert Changed Movies Forever! Award-winning editor and film critic Matt Singer Talks with Drexel’s Jeremy Henthorn!

Monday, November 6, 2023 - 7:00pm
Drexel Theatre
2254 East Main Street
Bexley, OH 43209

Attention all film lovers! Award-winning editor and film critic and vice-chair of the New York Film Critics Circle Matt Singer shares his recounting of the powerful partnership of two unlikely film critics in his book, Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel & Ebert Changed Movies Forever. Matt will be in conversation with Drexel Theatre Director Jeremy Henthorn.

Registration is on Eventbrite. The $10 admission fee is waived with the purchase of Opposable Thumbs.

THE DREXEL THEATRE is Gramercy’s Community Partner for this exclusive program.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to know if a movie was worth seeing, you didn’t check out Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB. You asked whether Siskel & Ebert had given it “two thumbs up.”

On a cold Saturday afternoon in 1975, two men (who had known each other for eight years before they’d ever exchanged a word) met for lunch in a Chicago pub. Gene Siskel was the film critic for the Chicago Tribune. Roger Ebert had recently won the Pulitzer Prize—the first ever awarded to a film critic—for his work at the Chicago Sun-Times. To say they despised each other was an understatement.

When they reluctantly agreed to collaborate on a new movie review show with PBS, there was at least as much sparring off-camera as on. No decision—from which films to cover to who would read the lead review to how to pronounce foreign titles—was made without conflict, but their often-antagonistic partnership (which later transformed into genuine friendship) made for great television. In the years that followed, their signature “Two thumbs up!” would become the most trusted critical brand in Hollywood.

In Opposable Thumbs, award-winning editor and film critic Matt Singer eavesdrops on their iconic balcony set, detailing their rise from making a few hundred dollars a week on local Chicago PBS to securing multimillion-dollar contracts for a syndicated series (a move that convinced a young local host named Oprah Winfrey to do the same). Their partnership was cut short when Gene Siskel passed away in February of 1999 after a battle with brain cancer that he’d kept secret from everyone outside his immediate family—including Roger Ebert, who never got to say goodbye to his longtime partner. But their influence on the way we talk about (and think about) movies continues to this day. 

Matt Singer is the editor and film critic of and a member of the New York Film Critics Circle. In 2011, he won a Webby Award for his work on the IFC News podcast. He is the author of Marvel’s Spider-Man: From Amazing to Spectacular, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two daughters. 

Jeremy Henthorn is Theatre Director for the Drexel Theatre, a position he’s held since 2018.  He previously served as Executive Director for the Columbus International Film and Animation Festival at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and as Film Commissioner for the State of Ohio.