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CRITICAL THINKING

      

Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert were the most famous movie critics in America in the 1980s.

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the names Siskel and Ebert mean anything to you, you’re old enough to remember when movie critics had influence, when they were actually listened-to by moviegoers who were eager for their opinions. These days, not so much. And that has nothing to do with the pandemic; it’s been that way for some years now. Not that critics were ever universally loved. When I was reviewing movies over 20 years from the late 1970s to the late 1990s, movie critics were often vilified, and this ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column, published in the Deseret News on Nov. 10, 1985, is about a poll on that subject. The second part is a tribute to Laurel & Hardy, and though some of their films are nearly a century old now, the comedy team’s pictures remain as gently warm and funny as ever. Check ’em out, and you might start with the western spoof suggested here; it is considered by many to be their best effort.

As if enough people don’t take pot-shots at the movie critics of the world, calling us lowlife scum whose opinions aren’t worth the airwaves they go over or the paper they’re printed on, Walt Disney World has decided to make it official … more or less.

According to a poll the Disney folk conducted at Epcot Center, surveying nearly 67,000 adults, 49 percent said they don’t follow the advice of their friendly neighborhood film critics.

The breakdown of that 49 percent is that 21 percent “never” follow the recommendations of reviewers, and 20 percent “rarely” do.

      

                        Disney World's Epcot Center

The good news is that 28 percent of the respondents said they “sometimes” follow recommendations of critics, and 2 percent “always” do (17 percent said they don’t go to the movies and 4 percent abstained from voicing an opinion).

Did that poll really say only 2 percent always go by the critics?

Actually that’s higher than I would have thought.

What the poll doesn’t tell you is that of that 2 percent, 7/8  of one percent are relatives.

And they probably regret the decision.

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Fans of Laurel & Hardy will be pleased to know that U.S. officials have approved putting

their image on a commemorative stamp in 1987, as a 60th anniversary tribute to the comedy team.

Sixty years ago Stan Laurel, the English music hall comic, and portly Oliver Hardy, a Georgia native, teamed up for a series of silent comedy shorts, and the rest is history.

      

L&H fans know they actually first appeared together in 1917, and again in 1926, but didn’t form a partnership until 1927, at which time they began developing the screen personas that have made them loved the world over.

I recently found a copy of “Way Out West” on videocassette, and there are so many hysterically funny moments in that Laurel & Hardy feature that my children run it over and over again … along with several other L&H pictures we have on tape at home.

Abbott & Costello could be very funny, Martin and Lewis made some good pictures, and there are other movie teams that can make you laugh.

But none are so funny, so warm and so loved universally as Laurel & Hardy.