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Roger Ebert's books are his legacy

Rogert Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic who died today, leaves behind a rich legacy, thanks to a shelf-full of books that explore movies -- and his own life.

His memoir, "Life Itself," dealt with his battle with alcoholism and the later, losing fight with thyroid cancer. He recounts, as well, his love for -- and exhaustive knowledge of -- movies.

I came to admire Ebert, who worked at the Chicago Sun-Times, as he reviewed movies with fellow critic Gene Siskel on their PBS show. I liked watching them snipe playfully at each other, as they weighed the merits of the new movies. And my tastes usually paired with Ebert's.

Like most critics, Ebert was always a bit of a showman and provocateur -- he was expert at goading Siskel -- and those qualities are clear from the titles of books such as "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" or "Your Movie Sucks." More thoughtful are the essays collected in editions of "The Great Movies," as he deconstructs classics like "Casablanca" and "The Godfather."

Here, then is a way to remember Ebert, with his own words. From "Life Itself": "I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. ... I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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