Roger Ebert, ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’ screenwriter, dies at age 70

His political views were asinine, but his reviews are still a good place to start when you’re investigating an old movie you’re thinking of watching.

As of right now (4:26pm ET) the Chicago Sun Times server has crashed.

UPDATE Their site is back up for now.

The Sun Times obit, presumably prepared in advance and thoroughly vetted, unfortunately describes Ebert’s early investing in Google as an example of the critic “putting his money where his mouth is…”

It is partially redeemed by this paragraph, though:

All that need be mentioned of Ebert’s social life was that in the early 1980s he briefly went out with the hostess of a modest local TV show called “AM Chicago.” Taking her to the Hamburger Hamlet for dinner, Ebert suggested that she syndicate her show, using his success with Siskel as an example of the kind of riches that awaited. While she didn’t return his romantic interest, Oprah Winfrey did follow his business advice.

Ebert infamously wrote the screenplay for Russ Meyer’s cult masterpiece Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) — an adventure he remembered here, ten years later:

The strange thing about the movie is that it continues to play successfully to completely different audiences for different reasons. When Meyer and I were hired a few years later to work on an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie called “Who Killed Bambi?” we were both a little nonplussed, I think, to hear Johnny Rotten explain that he liked “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” because it was so true to life.

Less frequently discussed (and not mentioned by the Sun Times) are the other Meyers films Ebert worked on: Up! and Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens.

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