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Today in Movie History: February 15

Stagecoach is one of those movies whose influence kind of creeps up on you. Not only did it cement a number of Western conventions that later went on to become clichés (Monument Valley settings, cavalry arriving at the last minute, etc.), but it made a star out of John Wayne and turned director John Ford into Hollywood legend. It also featured …

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Today in Movie History: February 14

Because nothing says “I love you” more than serial killers who wear their victims’ skin… Before Silence of the Lambs opened, it looked shaky in the extreme. The source material — a bestselling potboiler by Thomas Harris — was terrible, Jodie Foster got the female lead only after fighting like mad for it, and Anthony Hopkins was still largely considered a stage …

Taxi Driver

Today in Movie History: February 8

A big day for movies starts with the one of the most problematic. D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation opened today in 1915, marking a seismic advance in motion pictures as a technical art form while simultaneously pushing a narrative so grotesque it causes one to despair for humanity. Film students are obligated to watch it. Once. Everyone else can …

coraline_5

Today in Movie History: February 6

Henry Selick is best known as the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and we won’t dispute that film’s status as a beloved classic. But his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is easily in the same league, and has aged just as well. It tells the story of a young girl (Dakota Fanning) who wishes her parents were more interesting… and in true ironic-twist fashion …

bodysnatchers 1956 review

Today in Movie History: February 5

Let’s cut to the chase: the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers opened today in 1956, bringing Cold War paranoia straight into small-town America. Its alien invaders — who duplicate our human forms while removing the pesky humanity from our souls — served as the inspiration for the zombie apocalypse genre to follow, and while it remains a product of the …

misfits-08

Today in Movie History: February 1

In and of itself, John Huston’s The Misfits, which opened today in 1961, is a solid but second-tier effort from the great director, dealing with the lives of fading cowboys in the Nevada desert. It’s better known as the last onscreen appearance of two cinematic legends: Clark Gable, who died just a few days after shooting completed, and Marilyn Monroe, who died …