1954 Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront

Today in Movie History: July 28

The subtext of On the Waterfront always bothered me a bit. It celebrates a snitch, after all, and the tarnished legacy of director Eli Kazan — who ruined lives when he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and never expressed remorse for it — makes that uncomfortable. Divorced from the queasy political subtext, however, it’s brilliant storytelling, topped by …

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Today in Movie History: July 26

I was the exact wrong age for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when it first came out: 13 and oh so ready to stop being a kid. But every other age should be delighted by Pee-Wee’s ramshackle journey to find his beloved bicycle: reminding us in his unique Pee-Wee way to look at the world the way a child does from time to …

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Today in Movie History: July 25

We’ll start with the greatest golf movie ever made, the greatest movie featuring a gopher puppet ever made, and the 34th greatest stick-it-to-the-Man comedy ever made. We’re talking about Caddyshack and it opened today in 1980. I used to marvel at how Stephen King could crank out 10,000 words a day without breaking a sweat. Turns out, he was loopy on …

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Today in Movie History: July 22

And behold, the worst shall be first, and all the base and discarded of the cinematic universe will draw sustenance from its example. We’re talking about Ed Wood’s Plan 9 from Outer Space, justly celebrated as the worst movie ever made. Creaky sets, terrible acting, a plot that has to be seen to be believed, and the final onscreen appearance …

Ghost-World

Today in Movie History: July 20

We’ll start today with one of the most unusual comic book adaptations ever: Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World, the story of two alienated teenage girls and their almost surreal journey throught the wasteland of suburbia following their high school graduation. It’s a reminder that comic books can be about more than pretty people in tights (though YES, one of the girls …

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Today in Movie History: July 19

It’s a pretty quiet day, but one film stands out. Trainspotting, Danny Boyle’s celebrated adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s equally celebrated novel, helped cement the careers not only of Boyle but of many of his cast, including Ewan McGregor (never better), Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald. It also showed a side of Scotland rarely seen in the movies, and has become …

Joker

Today in Movie History: July 18

Mid-July is blockbuster time — usually when the last of the heavy hitters shows up to crush the box office before giving way to the earthier guilty pleasures of August. A pair of great sequels mark the day, notably The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his already impressive Batman Begins. In 8 short years, it’s already become the stuff …

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Today in Movie History: July 15

With apologies to The Boy Who Lived, I think Officer McClane is taking the pole position on this one. The original Die Hard initially looked like a huge disaster. Star Bruce Willis was mainly known for light comedy and his attempt to segue into action hero mode smacked of the worst kind of hubris. As it turns out, it represented …