Scorsese and Steve James making doc about Roger Ebert


Last week, Roger Ebert dropped the news that his memoir, Life Itself, would be turned into a documentary by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) and Steve Zaillian, with Martin Scorsese as an executive producer. Ebert told CriticWire via email:

This dropped out of the blue. They say they have a good idea for an approach. I believe Steve James’ Hoop Dreams is one of the greatest documentaries ever made, and my hopes for this are so high. I never thought of my book as a doc. I’m keeping hands off any involvement, such as with the screenplay, because I don’t want to be a third wheel. Whatever they do I will be fascinated.

No details yet on how James will approach the material and what sort of portrait we’ll get of Roger Ebert the man. (If you’re a softie like me, Chris Jones’ feature/interview on Roger Ebert for Esquire back in 2010 probably got you a little teary-eyed.) Ebert’s own brief forays into film were screenplays for exploitation king Russ Meyer, including an abandoned film featuring The Sex Pistols and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. The latter features the line, “Ere this night does wane, you will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!” No joke, I dig that movie.

After the cut, an excerpt from Martin Scorsese’s foreword to Ebert’s book Scorsese by Ebert. It focuses on the sense of kinship between the two men.

[Via The Playlist, Criticwire]

Scorsese on Ebert from Scorsese by Ebert (via Criticwire):

We were both marked by our relationship with the Catholic Church, in which we had both been raised. His was the Irish church, mine, the Italian. But we had both, at one point in our young lives, aspired to the priestly vocation and we had both failed in that ambition… I’m not saying that that issue was the sole basis for the relationship that developed between Roger and me over the years. But it did establish an emotional contact point between us, a shared sub-aesthetic understanding, that enabled him to see, and appreciate, things in my movies that were perhaps not so obvious to other reviewers.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.