Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic, pulled no punches when skewering a Chevy Chase film while both were guests on The Tonight Show. According to an excerpt from Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel and Ebert Changed Movies Forever featured in Entertainment Weekly, Siskel and Ebert appeared as guests on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1986. Their appearance followed Chevy Chase, who was there to promote his new comedy Three Amigos.
You can’t help but admire the cocksure Chase for remaining for Siskel and Ebert’s appearance. The segment began on a positive note, as Carson and the two critics discussed their favorite films starring Chase. Ebert pointed out that Fletch is great, while Carson himself picks Vacation as his favorite of the SNL alum’s films. Chase added some humor by playfully imitating Ebert’s pontificating behind his back, reminiscent of his time on SNL, with Ebert in on the bit.
‘The Tonight Show’ Segment Takes a Turn
However, the atmosphere shifted as the topic shifted toward the multitude of movies set to grace the theaters during the holiday season. “I hate to ask you to pick a dog,” Carson explains, “because it’s not fair sometimes to the people who make the movies. But is there something out there that is really so bad?”
Even with Carson teeing it up, what happened next is tough to believe. “I can’t really recommend Three Amigos,” Roger Ebert answered. The crowd howls considering they had just witnessed Chevy Chase promote the film in the very segment before. Plus, Chase was still a beloved comedy star at the time.
Roger Ebert Stuck to His Opinion of Chevy Chase’s Film
You can see partner Gene Siskel sheepishly smile after the studio audience boos Ebert. However, Roger is not only unfazed, he doubles down. “It’s the Christmas picture I like the least,” He added. “This is kind of hard to say because Chevy Chase has made a lot of good movies and God willing he will make a lot more good movies in the future.” According to an excerpt obtained by EW, Singer’s book discloses that Chase later confessed to Ebert and Siskel that he didn’t particularly enjoy the Three Amigos, either.
In 1975, Ebert and Siskel began hosting Sneak Previews, a weekly film review show on Chicago’s WTTW. This led to PBS’ At the Movies With Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in 1982 and Buena Vista Television’s Siskel and Ebert and the Movies in 1986. Even after Siskel’s passing in 1999, the series continued as Roger Ebert and the Movies. Roger Ebert passed away in 2013 after a long battle with cancer that had previously robbed him of his speech.
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