Watch Siskel and Ebert battle a snooty Star Wars-hating film critic back in 1983

For all the millions of dollars the original Star Wars trilogy made in the late-'70s and early-'80s, not everyone was enamored with A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Among those haters was film critic John Simon, who took to Ted Koppel's Nightline to spew his disdain and hate all over the movies and explain, without any real context, how they were movies for stupid children but yet still somehow making children stupid, even though they were supposed to be stupid when they entered the theater, or something. Happily, At the Movies' Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert — who had seen more than their share of genuinely shitty kids flicks — leapt to Star Wars' defense and took Mr. Simon to task in this rather awesome clip.


[Via Hibernation Sickness]


At one point in the interview, Ebert says of Star Wars that "this is the kind of movie that Disney should be making..." That's a lot of foresight. :P

I also like the part just before this, where John Simon criticizes Star Wars by comparing it to an animated movie, implying that animation can't have any meaningful substance. :P If I sat down and tried to think of all the really great films that I've seen over the course of my life, I'd probably have quite a few animated movies in my list... I think, thankfully, that attitudes have somewhat changed since 1983 — if Mr. Simon's views were ever mainstream.

Buuut — I have to say, I never much liked Return of the Jedi. Compared to the first two Star Wars movies, it was a bit of a cheesy mess — kind of a missing link in the de-evolution from the greatness of the first two films to the terribleness of the prequel trilogy. So I couldn't help but sympathise with John Simon just a teeny little bit — up until the point where I realise that he was basically trying to dismiss all of science fiction as cheap entertainment. :P

(I also know some really smart people who absolutely adore the Ewoks — so I may be missing something, I suppose...)