Forget Flood. Review Movies.

The car could be up on blocks and be just as astonishing. | It goes to show you how we in the press so often miss the big stories that are right under our noses. There is a famous journalistic legend about the time a young reporter covered the Johnstown flood of 1889. The kid wrote: “God sat on a hillside overlooking Johnstown today and looked at the destruction He had wrought.” His editor cabled back: “Forget flood. Interview God.” —Ebert on “Herbie: Fully Loaded” (2005)

Watching “Bedazzled,” I was reminded of the ancient newspaper legend about the reporter sent to cover the Johnstown Flood. “God stood on a mountain top,” he wrote, “and saw what his flood waters had wrought.” His editor cabled back: Forget flood. Interview God. Why was I remembering this old story? — Ebert on “Bedazzled” (2000)

“God stood on a mountain here today,” he wrote, “and saw what his waters had wrought.” His editor cabled him: “Forget flood. Interview God.” That was my reaction while watching “Gospa.” Ebert on “Gospa” (1996)

Watching “Fire in the Sky,” I was reminded of a famous old journalism story. Sent to cover the Johnstown Flood, reporter Bob Considine began his story: “God stood on a mountain top here today, and surveyed the damage that His floodwaters had wrought.” His editors cabled him: “Forget flood. Interview God.” In the case of “Fire in the Sky,” my advice to the filmmakers would be, forget the five pals and their problems, and spend more time with Travis Walton inside the spaceship. —Ebert on “Fire in the Sky” (1993)
(rogerebert.suntimes.com)

It’s a great anecdote. I don’t see anything wrong with using it four times over 12 years, but it’s interesting to see how the text of the story changes.