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Dave and I can (and have) argue taste and opinion until they unearth the missing reels from Greed. What he sees in red-baiting Orson Welles or clothes hanger Audrey Hepburn I'll never know.

There isn't a finer writer of film criticism currently plying their trade. The loss of Dave's critical voice hit me harder than being stung by a hammer. It was a pleasure, if only for a brief time, to work as his second-stringer. Were it not for Dave, I never would have seen The Smurfs or Act of Valor. Thanks?

We go way back, almost 40 years. What brought us together in the first place? The law of opposites attract. Dave is tactful, sensitive, refined, and always the smartest one in the room. I'm not. In the silent era we would have made a great comedy team with my raging bull playing opposite his more cerebral Burl in a China Shop.

If you want to have fun, next time you see Dave at the Chicken Pie Shop, ask him to name all the president's dogs. He'll rattle them off in chronological order. I tell you, the man is a genius!

A favorite David Elliott story: We first met when I was a sophomore in college and Dave was teaching a class called "Neglected Films." Normally fearless in the face of all cinema, I cannot get through a Satyajit Ray film. I'd rather watch them fling poo in Jackass than The Apu Trilogy.

I tacked a "Better Off Left" onto the class title the day Dave screened one of Ray's film. Destined to a torturous day by the movies, a friend and I bolted after five minutes and ran across the street to the posh McClurg Court Theatre to catch a late-afternoon showing of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.

READ DAVID ELLIOTT'S FAREWELL COLUMN.

The McClurg Court was a ritzier version of the old Cinema 21 complete with dynamic stereo separation, a wrap-around screen, and perfect sight-lines. We had the palace to ourselves and by way of punishment for paying hookey, the entire film was projected out of frame. Mike Shadow and C. Ling deserved equal billing alongside Matthau and Burns.

As fate would have it, the film let out around the same time Dave's class broke and we were spotted exiting the theatre. The next week Dave delivered his version of a stern dressing down. Ray has always been a missing rivet in our cinematic bond. I have since revisited The Sunshine Boys, but have yet to step in Apu.

Fortunately for me, Dave's reviews (and hourly updates on his daily ablutions) are never more than a phone call away. Dave is the kid on the block your parents would encourage you to befriend, the only soul alive capable of telling me I'm full of crap and making it sound like a compliment. When it comes to picking lifelong friends, I have exceptional taste.

At the risk of going soft on you, the only time you're likely to catch me using the word "Saint" is in reference to Eva Marie or Roger Moore. You, David Elliott, are a Saint.

I vote we replace the recently dismantled kissing eyesore opposite the Midway with a statue of Dave. Hey, why not position it closer to the waterfront tribute to Bob Hope? Wouldn't 'at be sumpin' listening to those two bronze cats debate the virtues of The Iron Petticoat or Call Me Bwana?

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Comments

hangingoutwithdar June 13, 2012 @ 3:40 p.m.

Hi Scott, It's Darlena. Why is David leaving? Didn't he leave once before or was that from the old UT? Hope this gives you a chance to get featured more often. I have written you a few times before - think to your email address, which bounced back last time, - but don't know if you ever got the messages. If you're ever in the mood to look for good "Chicago" food, just whistle.

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David Elliott June 13, 2012 @ 5:28 p.m.

Scott, Thanks. The pictures were terrific. The sentiments were ... well, directly from the theme park known as Mondo Marks. After all these years, we still get the gag about Apu and pooh (it's like Jerry Lewis shoving a joke glass in his mouth, the poor ham just can't help it). If am a saint, then I guess Pierre Fresnay as Vincent De Paul in Monsieur Vincent (another movie I tried to show you in class) was just another goodfella like the recently late Henry Hill. By the way, the Ray movie you ducked in my class was not, I believe. part of his magnificent Apu Trilogy, but what may well be his greatest single film, The Music Room. The very same movie of which Werner Herzog stated, in front of a Chicago crowd, "You must see this." The very same movie that Criterion recently put out on DVD, looking more beautiful than I ever saw it in theaters. As you are a growing critic and a star blogger, I am saint enough to loan you my copy. Then we can meet at the Chicken Pie Shop and nosh the nuances (alas, no curry gravy). Good luck to you and Matt. Darlena: I am the neon Exit door of critical leavers. I left the Chicago Daily News in 1978, the Chicago Sun-Times in 1982, USA Today in 1984, the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2008, SDNN.com in 2010, and the Reader in 2012. You know, at this rate I'll have to leave this life in ... 60 years (source: Citizen Kane). But thanks for caring.

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nan shartel June 13, 2012 @ 5:38 p.m.

i'm so glad u did this blog Scott..David is such a nice guy and a wonderful critic

btb. he critiqued the marigold hotel movie positively u wanker...hahahahahahahaha

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thistle June 13, 2012 @ 9:44 p.m.

David Elliott will be missed. Marks is a great addition. Reader, pay attention: pay the movie critics a living wage. Take it out of the pots of gold you're making from plastic surgeons.

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YesGrrrl June 14, 2012 @ 8:30 a.m.

Thanks for the great piece, I so enjoyed it.

Reader readers take note: Mr. Elliott is not "leaving," he was "let go" (from the U-T and now the Reader). Reader editors: The movie reviews (DuncanS and then DavidE) are one of the 2-3 things that bring me to this paper, so now there's one more reason not to visit!

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David Elliott June 14, 2012 @ 10:35 a.m.

Nan: Thank you for achieving the Zen koan of eloquence I never quite managed to distill in 44 years of film reviewing. YesGrrrl: Let us all please let go of the phrase "let go" (as in "We had to let him go"). It is the squishiest and most feckless camouflage in modern journalism and management. It lends a fatuous patina of wounded sympathy, as though the boss was dragged to a painful decision, against his or her will, by forces so great that even a Greek god or an Ayn Rand hero could not have resisted them. I doubt that the Aztec priests, heartlessly watching a heart-less body tumble down the pyramid, said with wistful chagrin, "Well, we had to let him go." If I can help to retire that phrasing from English, I shall be a writer fulfilled.

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