Looking Back: Ebert’s First Review in Reader’s Digest

By Damon Beres

Movie lovers worldwide today mourn the passing of Roger Ebert, the famed film critic who pioneered the “thumbs up, thumbs down” rating system and brought a deep affection for cinematic art to the masses. He was 70 years old and died after a long struggle with cancer.

What you may not realize, however, is that Reader’s Digest was instrumental in bringing Ebert to the masses for the first time. A short while after he started work for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967, our magazine ran a condensed version of his very first review: Night of the Living Dead, seen below as it appeared in our June 1969 issue.

The full text is available on Ebert’s website. To read it is to experience a powerful cultural critic at the beginning of a storied career—he was in his mid-twenties at the time. Spend some time in the archive when you’re done: His words deserve to be enjoyed for decades more to come.

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

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