The Great Movies
America’s most trusted and best-known film critic Roger Ebert presents one hundred brilliant essays on some of the best movies ever made.  For the past five years Roger Ebert, the famed film writer and critic, has been writing biweekly essays for a feature called "The Great Movies," in which he offers a fresh and fervent appreciation of a great film. The Great Movies collects one hundred of these essays, each one of them a gem of critical appreciation and an amalgam of love, analysis, and history that will send readers back to that film with a fresh set of eyes and renewed enthusiasm–or perhaps to an avid first-time viewing. Ebert’s selections range widely across genres, periods, and nationalities, and from the highest achievements in film art to justly beloved and wildly successful popular entertainments. Roger Ebert manages in these essays to combine a truly populist appreciation for our most important form of popular art with a scholar’s erudition and depth of knowledge and a sure aesthetic sense. Wonderfully enhanced by stills selected by Mary Corliss, film curator at the Museum of Modern Art, The Great Movies is a treasure trove for film lovers of all persuasions, an unrivaled guide for viewers, and a book to return to again and again.The Great Movies includes: All About Eve • Bonnie and Clyde • Casablanca • Citizen Kane • The Godfather • Jaws • La Dolce Vita • Metropolis • On the Waterfront • Psycho • The Seventh Seal • Sweet Smell of Success • Taxi Driver • The Third Man • The Wizard of Oz • and eighty-five more films.From the Hardcover edition.

The Great Movies Details

TitleThe Great Movies
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 9th, 2002
PublisherCrown Archetype
Rating
GenreCulture, Film, Nonfiction, Media Tie In, Movies, Writing, Essays, Reference

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The Great Movies Review

  • Julie Davis
    January 1, 1970
    I miss Roger Ebert. Even when I disagreed with his online personal journal entries, which happened fairly frequently, I still loved reading him.Most importantly, of course, I miss reading his movie reviews every Friday. They were the anchor against which I measured all other critical opinions of a film. Again, I might disagree with him because his range and experience and desires when watching a film were often different from mine. Again, it didn't matter. I loved his way with words, the way he I miss Roger Ebert. Even when I disagreed with his online personal journal entries, which happened fairly frequently, I still loved reading him.Most importantly, of course, I miss reading his movie reviews every Friday. They were the anchor against which I measured all other critical opinions of a film. Again, I might disagree with him because his range and experience and desires when watching a film were often different from mine. Again, it didn't matter. I loved his way with words, the way he made you understand that his point of view was very valid even if you did disagree, and the way he was unafraid to champion movies others despised. He began this with early support of 2001: A Space Odyssey and later won my heart with his embrace of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. This is something few movie critics achieve.The Great Movies collects a series of Ebert's of critical appreciations of movies which deserved a deeper look than a simple review. It ranges across time and genres to choose the best of the best, movies which make you want to grab your friends and force them to watch.This is one of those books not to read from beginning to end but to flip open and see what catches your eye. Or to pick and choose from the table of contents, either the films you love or the films you never heard of. No matter your method, you will come away both missing Roger Ebert and grateful that his "voice" is still with us in print.This book makes me appreciate the movies I love even more, makes me realize some movies that I never want to watch, and ... yet ... also makes me appreciate that both sorts can be connected in a way that makes my own viewing richer. This just happened in reading Ebert's comparison between the noir masterpiece Sunset Boulevard (much loved by me) and the Japanese existentialist film The Woman in the Dune (in which simply reading the description was enough, thank you very much). There are some reviews which I won't read now because those movies, such as Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion, are on my list to watch. Ebert can't fully discuss these as "great movies" without giving spoilers, so I will deny myself the pleasure of knowing his reasons for recommendation. It is enough to know that I can come back to his discussion when I am ready. Above all it makes me want to watch some of these great movies again ... or for the first time. Surely that was Ebert's goal and he hits the target with sureness and grace. If you love movies, if you love intelligent and insightful writing, and, above all, if you miss Roger Ebert, then you owe it to yourself to read this collection.
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  • Mmyoung
    January 1, 1970
    The word that sprang to mind as I finished this book is anodyne. This is a competent and thoroughly unexceptional survey of 'great movies.' Ebert's opinions range from main stream to routine / within the normal range of deviation / acceptably eccentric. Not one of the reviews in the book made me stop of think 'wow, what a fascinating new way to look at that movie.' Nor did any of them illuminate to me why I liked, or failed to be moved by, or disliked a movie. I came out of the book knowing no m The word that sprang to mind as I finished this book is anodyne. This is a competent and thoroughly unexceptional survey of 'great movies.' Ebert's opinions range from main stream to routine / within the normal range of deviation / acceptably eccentric. Not one of the reviews in the book made me stop of think 'wow, what a fascinating new way to look at that movie.' Nor did any of them illuminate to me why I liked, or failed to be moved by, or disliked a movie. I came out of the book knowing no more about movies nor about my own responses to movies than I did going in. On a more technical level there are times when Ebert is simply wrong about the facts surrounding a movie. For example he writes of the first Star Wars film "Two Lucas inspirations started the story with a tease: He set the action not in the future, but "long ago," and jumped into the middle of it with "Chapter 4: A New Hope." These seemingly innocent touches were actually rather powerful. They gave the saga the aura of an ancient tale and an ongoing one." Of course this is incorrect. When the film was first released it was simply titled "Star Wars." I am of an age to have seen it when it was initially released and remember that first opening crawl. I also remember the gasp of confusion in the theater when the sequel's open title crawl began "Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back." (This was back in the days when it was the norm to see a film without having been completely spoiled as to its details in advance.)This 'mistake' is important because of the material with which it is surrounded. Ebert is writing about what it felt like to watch the first Star Wars film at the time it was initially released and yet it is clear that he is confounding the feelings of later viewings with those of his initial experience. In other words, he is not recalling the actual experience of first watching the film he is overwriting those memories with later opinions and encounters.This undermines many of his discussions about other movies since he often begins by writing about how he felt when he first saw them and contrasting those feelings with the way in which he experienced the same movies in later years. This reader wonders if this projection and overwriting of later experiences and feelings onto vague initial memories is a frequent occurrence.Finally it should be pointed out that this is not a survey of 'great movies.' Ebert himself writes "The movies in this book have three thoughts or more. They not 'the' 100 greatest films of all time, because all lists of great movies are a foolish attempt to codify works which must stand alone. But it's fair to say: If you want to make a tour of the landmarks of the first century of cinema, start here." However this is a thoroughly mainstream, middle of the road introduction to 'great' films which guides the reader along in such a way that there is an illusion of a range of cultures and genres and yet the writing does so in such a way that there is not a single film included that doesn't fall within the standard 'canon.' For example, where are the great films of 'Black Cinema?' Ebert may not have seen those as a boy or as a young man but those films were seen by succeeding generations of African-American actors, writers and directors and thus by influencing some of the greatest artists of the cinema continue, if only at a remove, to have an impact on all American cinema today. Where are the films that came out of China and India? Where are the films made by indigenous North and South Americans? Where are the films made by actors and directors from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil? This is a thoroughly middle of the road, Eurocentric, safe, unadventurous and timid exploration of the 'great films.' And that is why it is filed in my mind under the word anodyne.
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  • Jim Dooley
    January 1, 1970
    Roger Ebert introduces this collection of his reviews by pointing out these are what he considers to be GREAT movies … not the GREATEST movies. He found a GREATEST list to be virtually meaningless as it is difficult to argue merits beyond GREAT. I would be on pretty safe ground if I told you that I’m providing a list of my Favorite Films, but Greatest Films is an entirely different situation and will immediately be headed to disagreement. So, these are films that he believes stand out as major a Roger Ebert introduces this collection of his reviews by pointing out these are what he considers to be GREAT movies … not the GREATEST movies. He found a GREATEST list to be virtually meaningless as it is difficult to argue merits beyond GREAT. I would be on pretty safe ground if I told you that I’m providing a list of my Favorite Films, but Greatest Films is an entirely different situation and will immediately be headed to disagreement. So, these are films that he believes stand out as major artistic achievements and/or are especially thought-provoking.He includes the films that almost everyone considers to be wonderful, such as:· 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY· CASABLANCA· CITIZEN KANE· THE WIZARD OF OZThere were also those films that I haven’t seen, but that I’ve added to my viewing list, such as:· THE DECALOGUE· FLOATING WEEDS· L’AVVENTURA· MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAYOf course, there were those that I haven’t seen and have absolutely no intention of ever seeing, such as:· HOOP DREAMS (Not much of a sports film fan)· LE SAMOURAI· PICKPOCKET· WRITTEN ON THE WIND (If I never see another movie directed by Douglas Sirk, it will be too soon)And there were those that caused me to scratch my head at their inclusion, such as:· LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (I made it through to the end … barely.)· UN CHIEN ANDALOU (Challenging, yes. Unusual, yes. Great … well, it has no story line and the shots aren’t connected to one another … so, no.)I was actually surprised that I had seen most of the films, and that I agreed with his choices most of the time. Even when I disagreed, his reasoning provided a great deal of insight. Most of all, it generated a strong interest in me to go and view many of these either again or for the first time. In some cases, I’ll want to see a few that I didn’t like initially, but his argument caused me to wonder if my opinion will change. (So, TAXI DRIVER, here I come.)I found this side note interesting. Roger Ebert had been working as a film critic for only 6-months when BONNIE AND CLYDE was released. The film was roundly panned by most critics at the time … to the point that the studio considered pulling it from release. He said that when he saw it, he realized he had seen his first masterpiece since working for a newspaper and he sang the film’s praises. Of course, public acceptance and … later … revisits by many of those same critics supported his belief. (I think it is a GREAT film, too.)At the end of the book was a listing for THE GREAT MOVIES II, so maybe the films I thought should have been included and weren’t will finally make an appearance.This one gets a “Thumbs Up. Way Up.”
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  • Bryce
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Ebert’s collection of essays was like revisiting the highlights from film school. The films are taken from the tried-and-true list of greats, but all of them are actually pretty great. Ebert writes in a way that is accessible to the film layman but also includes enough about the technical and creative processes that give more experienced readers insight. My favorite essay was on E.T.; Ebert broke from his usual formula there, crafting the review as a letter to his grandchildren after the Reading Ebert’s collection of essays was like revisiting the highlights from film school. The films are taken from the tried-and-true list of greats, but all of them are actually pretty great. Ebert writes in a way that is accessible to the film layman but also includes enough about the technical and creative processes that give more experienced readers insight. My favorite essay was on E.T.; Ebert broke from his usual formula there, crafting the review as a letter to his grandchildren after their first viewing of the film. It was witty and sweet, but also made excellent points about the film’s perspective and craftsmanship.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Reading anything by the late Roger Ebert is to experience a mini master class in film criticism. Through his prose, his adoration of film shines through every word, whether he likes a film or not. Cinema - GOOD cinema - is the alter before which he worshiped, and which he analyzed like no other critic living today.That said, Ebert wrote three books with the same title: "The Great Movies" (the first merely goes by that title but the second and third are II and III, respectively, on their covers). Reading anything by the late Roger Ebert is to experience a mini master class in film criticism. Through his prose, his adoration of film shines through every word, whether he likes a film or not. Cinema - GOOD cinema - is the alter before which he worshiped, and which he analyzed like no other critic living today.That said, Ebert wrote three books with the same title: "The Great Movies" (the first merely goes by that title but the second and third are II and III, respectively, on their covers). Reading just one Roger Ebert review/analyzation is satisfying enough. But when 100 films, ranging from Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" to "The Godfather", "A Hard Day's Night", Japanese films such as Akira Kurosawa's haunting "Ikiru" (which I watched immediately after reading Ebert's chapter on it) to the great silent films like "M" and "Metropolis" and some masterworks of directors Bergman, Goddard and Renoir are all put together in chapter after chapter ... well, if you are a film lover of just about any ilk, you are not going to want to put this book down. The reader just learns and learns. Even reading about the films in this book that I haven't seen, I lapped up the words like a kitten before a bowl of cream, perhaps even more eagerly than I would have now that we no longer have his voice to turn to. Each film is described and discussed thoroughly and, frankly, the best praise I can give "The Great Movies" is that reading only a few pages made me want to shut myself away in a darkened theatre, all alone, having my meal brought to me and surrounded by my cats (they always watch movies with me because at those moments, I'm a captive lap). I want to just watch and watch and gorge myself on all the films Ebert writes of, one right after the other.I cannot wait to get to Volumes II and III. Actually, I've got II right here on my desk, so I'll just close this review saying while we no longer have the man to enjoy, he wrote a lot of words that still exist and resonate, and his love of film will never die but will transmit itself through "The Great Movies" and all the other volumes of criticism he has left with us to enjoy and savor.
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  • Robert
    January 1, 1970
    It's hard to imagine criticism as being something that everyone isn't good at. I'm being critical right now; your snide Facebook comment from earlier today is criticism. Given how much our thoughts and feelings end up public affairs in the modern world, everyone is a critic, yet few of us do it well. How often do we gush about some movie, restaurant, or book to our friends only to realize later that our words had little to no effect in altering their behavior? Reading a book of criticism which c It's hard to imagine criticism as being something that everyone isn't good at. I'm being critical right now; your snide Facebook comment from earlier today is criticism. Given how much our thoughts and feelings end up public affairs in the modern world, everyone is a critic, yet few of us do it well. How often do we gush about some movie, restaurant, or book to our friends only to realize later that our words had little to no effect in altering their behavior? Reading a book of criticism which convinced me I had to see one movie is no mean feat: what if a critic convinced you to see 25 movies? Maybe more?Roger Ebert's passing was a great loss to those of us who enjoy discussing the things we love. His writing style was knowledgeable, convincing, and purely entertaining. The books chosen in this volume were clearly loved by Ebert, watched multiple times without adulterating his experience. While I may not watch all of the movies discussed in this book, I've certainly spent a good deal of time thinking about my own writing style and my own favorite flicks. Though first glance at the list of movies may leave the potential reader fearing for a pretentious trip down Cannes lane, every entry left me at least mildly interested in renting a copy for my own viewing pleasure. Even the movies Ebert himself called out as pretentious. Truly special are the entries--none of these can be considered movie reviews even though reviews are what we would expect from Ebert--in which Ebert takes liberties with his writing style such as a formatting his discussion of "E.T." into a letter to his grandchildren, with whom he had just watched the film. Like any book that consists of dozens of chapters all on a similar subject, "The Great Movies" is enjoyed best in smaller chunks to avoid a sense of repetition. You could happily read about a movie a day for months or take in three or four at a time, like I did.All writers learn to write better by reading great authors. If everyone's a critic, everyone should make a point to read this.
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  • Muzzlehatch
    January 1, 1970
    I have very mixed feelings about Roger Ebert, and this book is full of perfect examples of why that is. On the one hand, he communicates an enthusiasm that is hard to ignore, and his writing is always lucid and entertaining; on the other, he is sloppy and sometimes dead wrong in his facts -- somehow ignoring that Ozu's "Floating Weeds" is a remake of an earlier film BY THE SAME DIRECTOR; making a snide comment about the failed "futuristic city" in Albert Brooks' "Defending Your Life" -- actually I have very mixed feelings about Roger Ebert, and this book is full of perfect examples of why that is. On the one hand, he communicates an enthusiasm that is hard to ignore, and his writing is always lucid and entertaining; on the other, he is sloppy and sometimes dead wrong in his facts -- somehow ignoring that Ozu's "Floating Weeds" is a remake of an earlier film BY THE SAME DIRECTOR; making a snide comment about the failed "futuristic city" in Albert Brooks' "Defending Your Life" -- actually a vision of the afterlife. Did Ebert even see the film? He could have picked a more accurate example to throw a line about in his otherwise decent discussion of "Metropolis". His choices generally are very conservative, films that anyone with a smidgeon of knowledge of film will know -- though they're all great films, it would have been nice to see him point his way towards directors and films that need the exposure more than "Singin' in the Rain", "Vertigo" and Frank Capra.
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  • Brad
    January 1, 1970
    Roger Ebert is a better writer than movie reviewer. By that, I mean he doesn't always match my subjective tastes in movies--I only read his review of new releases after I've seen them, so that I won't constantly be judging my opinions to his. I think it's important for everyone to find a review whose taste mirrors his or her own--there's enough out there that someone (for me, often David Edelstein) who can screen out the garbage and highlight the great.That said, Ebert's a wonderful cheerleader Roger Ebert is a better writer than movie reviewer. By that, I mean he doesn't always match my subjective tastes in movies--I only read his review of new releases after I've seen them, so that I won't constantly be judging my opinions to his. I think it's important for everyone to find a review whose taste mirrors his or her own--there's enough out there that someone (for me, often David Edelstein) who can screen out the garbage and highlight the great.That said, Ebert's a wonderful cheerleader and analyst for movies he loves. His thoughts on The Grand Illusion make me want to revisit what I thought was a dull, old movie. All of the movies he likes may not be great, but his reviews, generally, are.That said, I just finished Gates of Heaven, an Errol Morris documentary he at one point called one of the 10 best films ever. It's an intriguing movie, and was probably more so in the late 1970s, when film-length documentaries weren't as varied, quirky, and popular as they are today. "Yeah, it's good," I thought, "but not the best."Movies I now need to watch or re-watch, based on his reviews:2001All About EveThe Big SleepBlowupBride of FrankensteinCasablancaThe DecalogueDouble IndemnityDr. StrangeloveFargoThe GodfatherGrand IllusionA Hard Day's NightHoop DreamsIkiruThe Lady EveL'AtalanteL'Avventura:e SamouraiMcCabe & Mrs. MillerMr. Hulot's HolidayMy Darling ClementineMy Life to LivePeeping TomPickpocketRaging BullSchindler's ListSunset Blvd.Sweet Smell of SuccessSwing TimeThe "Up" DocumentariesVertigoWoman in the DunesWritten on the WindI'm starting on the second volume, though I should probably start watching that list first.
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  • Diane
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book of Roger Ebert's reviews about classic films from "2001: A Space Odyssey" to "A Woman Under the Influence." Fascinating, fun, and a pretty quick read. Don't judge it by how long it took me - I kept having to read it in small doses, stealing time here and there in between work, family, gardening, and some pretty demanding pets. I don't always agree with Ebert - I enjoyed the endings to "Red River" and "Psycho" and have never liked "Citizen Kane" - but I share his love of great movi This is a book of Roger Ebert's reviews about classic films from "2001: A Space Odyssey" to "A Woman Under the Influence." Fascinating, fun, and a pretty quick read. Don't judge it by how long it took me - I kept having to read it in small doses, stealing time here and there in between work, family, gardening, and some pretty demanding pets. I don't always agree with Ebert - I enjoyed the endings to "Red River" and "Psycho" and have never liked "Citizen Kane" - but I share his love of great movies, both the oldies and the more recent ones. His love for the movies comes through, and he really makes you want to watch them. He also makes you look at familiar movies in a different light.Very recommended.
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  • Robert James
    January 1, 1970
    Wth very few exceptions, I find movies made today to be extremely boring. Much like a lot of crime fiction today, everything is formula driven and it becomes tedious to read and watch. So I thought I would read a book that is full of essays regarding what one man believes are 100 of the very best. I've seen many of the American movies but might take a second look based upon Mr. Ebert's recommendations but I've seen almost none of the foreign films. I guess I'll be watching for some of these to a Wth very few exceptions, I find movies made today to be extremely boring. Much like a lot of crime fiction today, everything is formula driven and it becomes tedious to read and watch. So I thought I would read a book that is full of essays regarding what one man believes are 100 of the very best. I've seen many of the American movies but might take a second look based upon Mr. Ebert's recommendations but I've seen almost none of the foreign films. I guess I'll be watching for some of these to appear on TCM.
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  • Dave Hartl
    January 1, 1970
    This is a good guide to serious film watching. I've seen the vast majority of the picks Ebert gives here, but I'm glad for a list of undiscovered films that's backed up by the choices he's made that I've seen and loved. Ebert seemed incapable of enjoying David Lynch but otherwise I can agree with his favorites.
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  • Neri.
    January 1, 1970
    It's a great encyclopedia on amazing movie, some of which I didn't enjoyed as much as the author did. He, though, talks about every movie in this book which such passion that it is a joy to read for movie fans and for those who have no idea what classic films are.
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  • Alexis
    January 1, 1970
    I've almost finished watching all the movies in this collection. Still a few more to watch. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves film or good writing.I'm a major Ebert fan.
  • Niklas Pivic
    January 1, 1970
    I must admit, I've only read the reviews of films that I haven't seen in here, which probably amounts to a third of the book in total.Ebert has really, really seen these films. Most of them, according to himself, several times, and an additional time in order to write this book. A lot of them are classics, and a few of them - e.g. "The Wizard of Oz" - aren't included in a lot of critics' tomes.He opens the book with an introduction where three paragraphs stood out to me:The ability of an audienc I must admit, I've only read the reviews of films that I haven't seen in here, which probably amounts to a third of the book in total.Ebert has really, really seen these films. Most of them, according to himself, several times, and an additional time in order to write this book. A lot of them are classics, and a few of them - e.g. "The Wizard of Oz" - aren't included in a lot of critics' tomes.He opens the book with an introduction where three paragraphs stood out to me:The ability of an audience to enter into the narrative arc of a movie is being lost; do today’s audiences have the patience to wait for Harry Lime in The Third Man?At Boulder and on other campuses, talking with the students, I found that certain names were no longer recognized. Even students majoring in film had never seen one by Buñuel, Bresson, or Ozu. They’d seen one or two titles by Ford and Wilder, knew a half-dozen Hitchcock classics, genuflected at Citizen Kane, knew the Star Wars pictures by heart, and sometimes uttered those words which marked them as irredeemably philistine: “I don’t like black and white.” Sixty of these films are in black and white, and three use b&w and color; you cannot know the history of the movies, or love them, unless you understand why b&w can give more, not less, than color.Today even the most popular subtitled films are ignored by the national distribution oligarchy, mainstream movies are pitched at the teenage male demographic group, and the lines outside theaters are for Hollywood’s new specialty, B movies with A budgets.While he may seem grumpy, there are obvious points to be made. Yes, most modern Hollywood flicks are crap, yes, the attention span of anybody today is Twitter and Reddit long (by which I mean that "too long, didn't read" is more of an axiom to some than a joke), but then again - his claims would be nothing if he didn't fess up and review with gusto, intelligence and terrific insight.And that, my friend, he delivers.From "The Big Sleep":Working from Chandler’s original words and adding spins of their own, the writers (William Faulkner, Jules Furthman, and Leigh Brackett) wrote one of the most quotable of screenplays: It’s unusual to find yourself laughing in a movie not because something is funny, but because it’s so wickedly clever. (Marlowe on the “nymphy” kid sister: “She tried to sit in my lap while I was standing up.”) Unlike modern crime movies which are loaded with action, The Big Sleep is heavy with dialogue. The characters talk and talk, just like in the Chandler novels; it’s as if there’s a competition to see who has the most verbal style.On "Ikiru":It is not so bad that he must die. What is worse is that he has never lived. “I just can’t die—I don’t know what I’ve been living for all these years,” he says to the stranger in the bar. He never drinks, but now he is drinking: “This expensive saki is a protest against my life up to now.”[...]I saw Ikiru first in 1960 or 1961. I went to the movie because it was playing in a campus film series and cost only a quarter. I sat enveloped in the story of Watanabe for two and a half hours, and wrote about it in a class where the essay topic was Plato’s statement “the unexamined life is not worth living.”On "JFK", which indeed questions how films should be "truthful":Shortly after the film was released, I ran into Walter Cronkite and received a tongue-lashing, aimed at myself and my colleagues who had praised JFK. There was not, he said, a shred of truth in it. It was a mishmash of fabrications and paranoid fantasies. It did not reflect the most elementary principles of good journalism. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. I have no doubt Cronkite was correct, from his point of view. But I am a film critic and my assignment is different than his. He wants facts. I want moods, tones, fears, imaginings, whims, speculations, nightmares. As a general principle, I believe films are the wrong medium for fact. Fact belongs in print. Films are about emotions. My notion is that JFK is no more or less factual than Stone’s Nixon—or Gandhi, Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Amistad, Out of Africa, My Dog Skip, or any other movie based on “real life.” All we can reasonably ask is that it be skillfully made, and seem to approach some kind of emotional truth.Reviewing a film that is old could pose several problems, but if it's been remade a million times since, is harder; Ebert pulls this off with "Nosferatu":To watch F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) is to see the vampire movie before it had really seen itself. Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in clichés, jokes, TV skits, cartoons, and more than thirty other films. The film is in awe of its material. It seems to really believe in vampires. Max Schreck, who plays the vampire, avoids most of the theatrical touches that would distract from all the later performances, from Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee to Frank Langella to Gary Oldman. The vampire should come across not like a flamboyant actor, but like a man suffering from a dread curse. Schreck plays the count more like an animal than like a human being; the art direction by Murnau’s collaborator, Albin Grau, gives him bat ears, clawlike nails, and fangs that are in the middle of his mouth like a rodent’s, instead of on the sides like a Halloween mask.Check out the insight on "Raging Bull", one of the best films ever made according to myself:Raging Bull is not a film about boxing, but about a man with paralyzing jealousy and sexual insecurity, for whom being punished in the ring serves as confession, penance, and absolution. It is no accident that the screenplay never concerns itself with fight strategy. For Jake LaMotta, what happens during a fight is controlled not by tactics, but by his fears and drives.Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film was voted in three polls as the greatest film of the decade, but when he was making it, he seriously wondered if it would ever be released: “We felt like we were making it for ourselves.” Scorsese and Robert De Niro had been reading the autobiography of Jake LaMotta, the middleweight champion whose duels with Sugar Ray Robinson were a legend in the 1940s. They asked Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver (1976), to do a screenplay. The project languished while Scorsese and De Niro made the ambitious but unfocused musical New York, New York (1977) and then languished some more as Scorsese’s drug use led to a crisis. De Niro visited his friend in the hospital, threw the book on his bed, and said, “I think we should make this.” And the making of Raging Bull, with a screenplay further sculpted by Mardik Martin (Mean Streets [1973]), became therapy and rebirth for the filmmaker.Raging Bull is the most painful and heart-rending portrait of jealousy in the cinema—an Othello for our times. It’s the best film I’ve seen about the low self-esteem, sexual inadequacy, and fear that lead some men to abuse women. Boxing is the arena, not the subject. LaMotta was famous for never being knocked down in the ring. There are scenes where he stands passively, his hands at his side, allowing himself to be hammered. We sense why he didn’t go down. He hurt too much to allow the pain to stop.All in all: very insightful, almost a little too much for me, who's not a film critic or someone who's that deep into film. Still, Ebert a perfect juxtaposition to Anthony Lane's brilliant collection of his own reviews, titled "Nobody's Perfect".
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  • Molly
    January 1, 1970
    Ebert's writing has that irresistible quality of illustrating, not just his ideas, but the process and structure of his thinking, and he always clears a space for emotion to override intellect. "I believe films are the wrong medium for fact," he writes in his essay on Oliver Stone's JFK. "Any factual film would be quickly dated. But JFK will stand indefinitely as a record of how we felt." I don't agree with all of Ebert's assessments (you really like the 1997 CGI updates in Star Wars, Roger? Sha Ebert's writing has that irresistible quality of illustrating, not just his ideas, but the process and structure of his thinking, and he always clears a space for emotion to override intellect. "I believe films are the wrong medium for fact," he writes in his essay on Oliver Stone's JFK. "Any factual film would be quickly dated. But JFK will stand indefinitely as a record of how we felt." I don't agree with all of Ebert's assessments (you really like the 1997 CGI updates in Star Wars, Roger? Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies of all time?), but his writing is sincere and meditative and accessible in a way that makes it a pleasure to disagree with him, just as it's a pleasure to agree. Two primary complaints: Disappointingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, not a single one of the 100 movies profiled here were directed by a woman. And the film stills that accompany each essay are all black-and-white, even for color films, and so poorly reproduced in such low resolution that it's sometimes hard to make out what they are. The book indicates that Ebert didn't even choose the stills himself: they were independently selected by a MoMA film curator. Why bother?
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  • Hajir Almahdi
    January 1, 1970
    Like rest of human population I enjoy watching films but lately I've developed this passion for film critique, I no longer just enjoy watching a "movie", I try to see everything else I might have missed, re-watch, read articles about it, be critical, specially if its something that I enjoyed. What I loved the most reading this book (even though it took me a lot of time to watch all the films reviewed that I haven't seen before and I did manage to see most of them) is Roger Ebert's passion when t Like rest of human population I enjoy watching films but lately I've developed this passion for film critique, I no longer just enjoy watching a "movie", I try to see everything else I might have missed, re-watch, read articles about it, be critical, specially if its something that I enjoyed. What I loved the most reading this book (even though it took me a lot of time to watch all the films reviewed that I haven't seen before and I did manage to see most of them) is Roger Ebert's passion when talking about the films he love, he's genuine and honest, his understanding and love of Cinema and film is captivating. This collection of reviews servers as a great guide to classic films you might have missed watching and great read to both film and reading lovers alike.
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  • Peter DeSilvey
    January 1, 1970
    A great collection of short essays on some great films some I have seen and I agree some I haven't so I have no opinion but I have to say Ebert had a passion about films and you can gain an appreciation of that by reading this book. I'm sure I don't see eye to eye with him everything here. But he definitely had an interesting perspective to share with the world.
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  • Vaisakh Krishnan
    January 1, 1970
    Started with reading every movie, even if I hadnt seen it. But then I realised it wasnt adding much value. For the movies I had seen, it was a new perspective. Ebert is def one of the finest observers of cinema!
  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Really well written, I just don’t have a passion for “classic” cinema I guess!
  • Bill Hopkins
    January 1, 1970
    Useful reference
  • Randy
    January 1, 1970
    One's opinion of the book is totally a function of your feeling about the movies discussed. I mostly agreed with his thoughts (or didn't see the movie yet).
  • Harry
    January 1, 1970
    100 essays on the great movies by one of the greatest film critics of all time. If you like film then this is a must. Some surprising entries too but always well argued.
  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    More readable than expected. Some obvious choices and some unexpected but neatly explained. I need to revisit some of these....
  • Scott
    January 1, 1970
    A classic movie reference book that is not only fun to read, but extremely well written. Ebert was a tremendous writer and this collection of his key reviews is wonderful.
  • Rob
    January 1, 1970
    In the early 90s I was looking for a film critic who could better link the worlds of European and Hollywood films, who could see the positive points in well-made studio fare, while also perceiving the groundbreaking moments from the films striking new visual and atmospheric notes in European and Asian cinema. In Siskel and Ebert, the then-double act at the Chicago-Sun Times, I felt like I'd found perhaps the closest thing to that Grail.After Siskel's death, as the internet made its inroads, Roge In the early 90s I was looking for a film critic who could better link the worlds of European and Hollywood films, who could see the positive points in well-made studio fare, while also perceiving the groundbreaking moments from the films striking new visual and atmospheric notes in European and Asian cinema. In Siskel and Ebert, the then-double act at the Chicago-Sun Times, I felt like I'd found perhaps the closest thing to that Grail.After Siskel's death, as the internet made its inroads, Roger Ebert became an even more visible entity and we kept having plenty of ideas "in common" although being more Europe-based actually I didn't read him regularly, only occasionally seeing glimpses on Metacritic or other aggregators. This book brings us back together, so to speak, and is the first collection of his mini-essays on 100 of his favourite or most-admired films (there were two more books to come). The first feeling of "returning home" comes from the field coverage we have in common. How few of these I haven't seen! A Bresson here, a Kurosawa or Ozu there that I haven't managed to get to yet, Griffith's Broken Blossoms (which I never remember to look for), one part of the Apu trilogy… So we're either nodding or making half-grimaces of disagreement… Well, in the main we're nodding.Ebert - and this is perhaps his chief strength - is a particularly unobtrusive critic. He does not tell filmmakers what to do, or stake out Platonic truths about how filmmaking "ought to" be done. He is big on identifying and expressing the feelings that were engendered in him by the film. In most of these films he has subsequently returned to them a number of times, often, as he keeping mentioning, to give shot-by-shot classes on them. He loves to be excited by a film and is as giddy writing about Star Wars as he is writing about Truffaut's 400 Blows. He's not being particularly radical or ostentatious: the choices here are fairly canonical, possibly apart from Gates of Heaven, the Errol Morris documentary from 1978 that I imagine I must have seen back in the early 1990s after the recommendation by Ebert (or was it Leonard Maltin?). The most important thing for him is that these choices stand beyond fads and fashions, whether his own or those experienced by others. Working critics have to contend with the fact that their (often rushed) opinions have to stand the test of time. And sometimes films that seemed interesting or different at one point in the cultural zeitgeist lose that sheen and the critics have to decide whether they have retained their value or not. Ebert with these films has gone back more than once and confirmed those initial feelings that arose in him; he has found some solid "head" evidence to bolster the whims of his "heart".And that is how the book reads: an alphabetical, and therefore non-chronological, journey through the history of, ahem, the great movies. The alphabetical nature of the list means you're not quite as sure of what is about to come next as you would be if you knew you were now in the mid-1950s and Bergman and De Sica are just around the corner. This I find makes it more of a sweeping overview, as the lines are drawn far afield, and one moment after pondering silent cinema and its choices, say, you're thrown into the French Nouvelle Vague, which seems to elicit a special fondness in Ebert.Actually this feeling of favourite eras led me to consider the notable absence of films that have come out since the early 1990s when I started reading Ebert's work. Perhaps this will be overcome in the subsequent books, when the pressure of including old established favourites starts to abate.In other words, this book is heavy on the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Nouvelle Vague and the canon of film classics, with the expected appearances from the 1960s/70s renaissance, including Bonnie and Clyde, which Ebert was almost alone in praising on its initial release.But that doesn't make it any less appealing, as there are a number of useful insights and anecdotes, shorn of excessive ego or dogma. It's just like having a personable uncle or aunt describe the films that have meant a lot to them, with just enough cross-referencing and technical details to put some meat on the bones. As such, of its kind, this book is essential, whether for film buffs reconnecting with their fading blurring memories or newcomers wanting some kind of roadmap in the morass of too much information in which we currently live.
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  • Jared Randall
    January 1, 1970
    I haven’t watched many of the 100 movies included in this book, but now in a way I feel like I have. Though I don't agree with all of his critiques, his love and admiration for film shows in these pages and it is darn infectious. My favourite of these essays is addressed not to the reader, but these grandkids. Signed by Grandpa Roger, he allows us to see how film fits into his film as a critic and grandpa. We pass on the movies that mean the most to us in the hopes others will enjoy them as much I haven’t watched many of the 100 movies included in this book, but now in a way I feel like I have. Though I don't agree with all of his critiques, his love and admiration for film shows in these pages and it is darn infectious. My favourite of these essays is addressed not to the reader, but these grandkids. Signed by Grandpa Roger, he allows us to see how film fits into his film as a critic and grandpa. We pass on the movies that mean the most to us in the hopes others will enjoy them as much as did. Rogers does that so sweetly in this letter.
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  • Jeroen Berndsen
    January 1, 1970
    Roger Ebert is zonder twijfel de bekendste filmcriticus ter wereld, en niet zonder reden. Hij was de eerste filmcriticus die een Pulitzerprijs heeft gewonnen voor zijn werk en de enige die een eigen ster op de Hollywood 'walk of fame' heeft. Hij schrijft vanaf 1967 tot op heden filmrecensies voor de Chicago Sun-Times en zijn eigen website, www.rogerebert.com.[return][return]In 'The Great Movies' zijn 100 essays samengebracht over 100 'Geweldige Films', vaak voortgekomen uit recensies die hij eer Roger Ebert is zonder twijfel de bekendste filmcriticus ter wereld, en niet zonder reden. Hij was de eerste filmcriticus die een Pulitzerprijs heeft gewonnen voor zijn werk en de enige die een eigen ster op de Hollywood 'walk of fame' heeft. Hij schrijft vanaf 1967 tot op heden filmrecensies voor de Chicago Sun-Times en zijn eigen website, www.rogerebert.com.[return][return]In 'The Great Movies' zijn 100 essays samengebracht over 100 'Geweldige Films', vaak voortgekomen uit recensies die hij eerder schreef maar (meestal) uitgebreid en bijgewerkt. Hierbij is het interessant dat Ebert de leeftijd heeft waarop hij terug kan kijken naar hoe het was toen een film uitkwam (vaak was hij bij de premiere) en hoe hij deze door de jaren heen heeft beoordeeld. De manier waarop je naar een film kijkt is immers afhankelijk van een aantal zaken, onder andere van jou als kijker zelf. Ebert heeft overigens elke hier besproken film herkeken voor het schrijven van het bijbehorende essay, waardoor er altijd een modern kader aanwezig is. Hij heeft niet simpelweg zijn reviews uit de jaren '60 'opgeleukt'. [return][return]De meeste films krijgen 3 - 5 pagina's aandacht en Ebert slaagt er wonderbaarlijk goed in zijn enorme passie voor deze films onder woorden te brengen. In plaats van zijn 'kritische reviews' is het een lust om te lezen hoe hij oreert over de films die hij om verschillende redenen het predikaat 'Great' waardig vindt. Hoewel noodgedwongen veel films in dergelijke boeken al bij de echte liefhebbers bekend zijn, heeft Ebert juist ook een behoorlijke selectie minder bekende films in dit boek opgenomen. Gelukkig maakt het echter voor het leesplezier weinig uit of je de besproken film nu wel of niet kent. Ebert's kennis en analyse zijn diep genoeg om er bij elke film wat nieuws bij te leren of een nieuwe invalshoek of context te ontdekken. Ik betrapte me er zelfs op dat ik bij het stiekem vooruit bladeren zag dat zijn besprekingen van Sunset Blvd,Taxi Driver en Silence of the Lambs op stapel stonden (die ik alledrie erg goed ken) en bijna niet kon wachten om juist die te gaan lezen om te kijken wat hij erover zou schrijven.[return][return]Films die onder andere besproken worden zijn: All About Eve • Bonnie and Clyde • Casablanca • Citizen Kane • The Godfather • Jaws • La Dolce Vita • Metropolis • On the Waterfront • Psycho • The Seventh Seal • Sweet Smell of Success • Taxi Driver • The Third Man • The Wizard of Oz . In 2006 en 2011 volgden resp. The Great Movies II en The Great Movies III... Ik twijfel er niet aan dat deze binnen een jaar ook op mijn plank zullen staan. Voor de liefhebbers zijn ook zijn 'Haat-reviews' verzameld maar dat is een ander verhaal. Dat Ebert geen hoge pet op heeft van de huidige productiestandaarden in Hollywood valt overigens tussen de regels door duidelijk te lezen. Voorproefjes van zijn schrijfstijl zijn volop gratis op Roger Ebert's website te lezen, waar zijn reviews online zijn te raadplegen. Simpel gezegd bevat 'The Great Movies' 100 dieper uitgewerkte en mijns insziens beduidend betere en diepgaandere essays dan de (vaak) kortere reviews die gratis op de website staan. Hoewel van sommige films de versie op de website identiek is aan die in het boek, is het ook de selectie tezamen en de toevoeging van de 'stills' door Mary Corliss, film curator in het Museum of Modern Art die dit boek zijn meerwaarde boven de website geven. Ik ben er in een paar settings doorheen gegaan en wilde het liever niet wegleggen. [return][return]Het grote nadeel van dit boek is wèl dat Ebert soms zo enthousiasmeert dat je niet meer weet welke film je nu eerst moet gaan kijken :-)[return][return]Een 'should-have'/must-have voor de filmfanaten....
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  • j_ay
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve seen 69 out of 100 movies listed.I would certainly *not* include the films 2001: A Space Odyssey [yawwwwwn:], Chinatown [horrible script, Nicholson sucks, etc:] Dr. Strangelove [Peter Sellers, as always, is 100% annoying, hardly funny[George C Scott WAS funny though:]], A Hard Days Night [ok, I haven’t seen that one, but I can’t think of any category where “great” and “Beatles” could ever be combined:], E.T, or The Silence of the Lambs [if you want to see a truly great Lector, watch Manhunt I’ve seen 69 out of 100 movies listed.I would certainly *not* include the films 2001: A Space Odyssey [yawwwwwn:], Chinatown [horrible script, Nicholson sucks, etc:] Dr. Strangelove [Peter Sellers, as always, is 100% annoying, hardly funny[George C Scott WAS funny though:]], A Hard Days Night [ok, I haven’t seen that one, but I can’t think of any category where “great” and “Beatles” could ever be combined:], E.T, or The Silence of the Lambs [if you want to see a truly great Lector, watch Manhunter:].The short essays are ok, although sometimes relying simply too much of plot synopsis rather than inside info of WHY Ebert thinks they are “great”. 2001: A Space OdysseyThe 400 Blows8 ½Aguirre, the Wrath of GodAli: Fear Eats the SoulAll About EveThe ApartmentApocalypse NowThe Apu TrilogyBattleship PotemkinBeauty and the BeastBelle de JourThe Bicycle ThiefThe Big SleepBlow-upBody HeatBonnie and ClydeBride of FrankensteinBroken BlossomsCasablancaChinatownCitizen KaneCity LightsDays of HeavenThe DecalogueDetourDo the Right ThingDouble IndemnityDraculaDr. StrangeloveDuck SoupE.T. The Exterminating AngelFargoFloating WeedsGates of HeavenThe GeneralThe GodfatherGone With the WindGrand IllusionGreedA Hard Day’s NightHoop DreamsIkiruIt’s a Wonderful LifeJFKLa Dolce VitaThe Lady EveLast Year at MarienbadL’AtalanteL’AvventuraLawrence of ArabiaLe SamouraiMThe Maltese FalconManhattanMcCabe & Mrs. MillerMetropolisMr. Hulot’s HolidayMy Darling ClementineMy Life to LiveNashvilleNetworkThe Night of the HunterNosferatuNotoriousOn the WaterfrontPandora’s BoxThe Passion of Joan of ArcPeeping TomPersonaPickpocketPinocchioPsychoPulp FictionRaging BullRed RiverSchindler’s ListThe Seven SamuraiThe Seventh SealThe Shawshank RedemptionThe Silence of the LambsSingin’ in the RainSome Like it HotStar WarsSunset Blvd. Sweet Smell of SuccessSwing TimeTaxi DriverThe Third ManTrouble in ParadiseUn Chien AndalouThe “Up” DocumentariesVertigoThe Wild BunchWings of DesireThe Wizard of OzWoman in the DunesA Woman Under the InfluenceWritten on the Wind
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  • Bonnie McDaniel
    January 1, 1970
    I own Roger Ebert's autobiography, and that book, along with this one, reminded me of what a treasure we lost when he died. That made reading this book bittersweet, to say the least. I think Roger's voice fully flowered after his cancer treatment and the loss of his ability to speak; his mastery of prose and emotion is there in every entry to his blog, which remains online. However, glimpses of the greatness to come are here in this collection of his movie reviews. There are 100 movies reviewed I own Roger Ebert's autobiography, and that book, along with this one, reminded me of what a treasure we lost when he died. That made reading this book bittersweet, to say the least. I think Roger's voice fully flowered after his cancer treatment and the loss of his ability to speak; his mastery of prose and emotion is there in every entry to his blog, which remains online. However, glimpses of the greatness to come are here in this collection of his movie reviews. There are 100 movies reviewed here, many of which I've never heard of. The listing is, perhaps, weighted towards foreign films, which I've never had much of an opportunity (or the inclination, to be truthful) to watch. But if these lovely, poetic reviews don't turn you into a foreign-film buff, nothing will. I was also rather surprised to find Star Wars on the list; sure, it's popular, and sure, it changed the course of cinema and special effects, but I never thought anyone would call it a “great movie.” Ebert does, though: “The films that will live forever are the simplest-seeming ones. They have profound depths, but their surfaces are as clear to an audience as a beloved old story...If I were asked to say with certainty which movies will still be widely known a century or two from now, I would list 2001, and The Wizard of Oz, and Keaton and Chaplin, and Astaire and Rogers, and probably Casablanca...and Star Wars for sure.”From his review of 2001: “Only a few films are transcendent and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape. Most movies are about characters with a goal in mind, who obtain it after difficulties either comic or dramatic. 2001: A Space Odyssey is not about a goal, but about a quest, a need. It does not hook its effects on specific plot points, nor does it ask us to identify with Dave Bowman or any other character. It says to us: We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet, but among the stars, and that we are not flesh, but intelligence.” See what I mean? Damn, I wish I could write like that. (This is also the only review I've seen that made any kind of sense out of 2001.) I'll have to get more of Roger's review volumes; I bet the ones where he talks about bad moves would be even more fun than this one.
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  • Dankwa Brooks
    January 1, 1970
    Not only do I like watching great films, but I like reading about them too. As a filmmaker people are always surprised that I haven’t seen some “classics”. Generally, I haven’t seen too many films before I was born (70s) and I really have no interest in several genres like war/military films and westerns. I have to say though that as a filmmaker I will watch ANY film when recommended. When it comes to movies, no one knows them better than Roger Ebert. Forget the movie side; he is one of the best Not only do I like watching great films, but I like reading about them too. As a filmmaker people are always surprised that I haven’t seen some “classics”. Generally, I haven’t seen too many films before I was born (70s) and I really have no interest in several genres like war/military films and westerns. I have to say though that as a filmmaker I will watch ANY film when recommended. When it comes to movies, no one knows them better than Roger Ebert. Forget the movie side; he is one of the best writer/journalist period! His essays are analytical without being too scrutinizing. They really celebrate what it is like to FEEL what the film is trying to convey and how they made him feel. He also has been watching films from around the world at a young age (25) and brings with him a wealth of knowledge of film technique and career of pretty much any given filmmaker in the last 50 years. The essays in this book were deductive, insightful and most of all filled with fondness of something Roger Ebert perhaps knows just as well as any great filmmaker – film.~Post Script~ The movies that I haven’t seen, but want to after reading this book are2001The 400 BlowsThe ApartmentBody HeatThe Bicycle ThiefThe Big SleepBonnie & ClydeCasablancaDouble IndemnityLa Dolce VitaLawrence of ArabiaThe Maltese FalconNetworkThe Night of the HunterOn The WaterfrontRaging BullSeven SamuraiSunset BlvdWith the exception of ‘The 400 Blows’ I have heard of all of these films, but have never seen them. Ebert covers A LOT of films and since there were so many I read only the essays of those films I heard of. I hope to see these films – eventually. When I do I will more than likely review them on a public forum like Rotten Tomatoes http://bit.ly/DB_RT_ratings
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