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Today in Movie History: October 18

Musicals don’t come any better than West Side Story, a brilliant re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that freed the genre from the opulent event pictures that had dominated it in the 1950s. Robert Wise kept a steady hand on the tiller during a deeply troubled production — co-director Jerome Robbins suffered a breakdown midway through, though his stunning choreography remains …

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Today in Movie History: October 17

For a supposedly quiet month, October is chock full of terrific movies. We’ll start with Bullitt, a movie that’s less a classic in and of itself than a classic car chase with a movie wrapped around it. The rest of the film is boilerplate cops-and-robbers stuff, but when Steve McQueen gets behind the wheel of that Mustang, something magic happens. Bullitt opened …

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Today in Movie History: October 16

Clive Barker has certainly made his mark on the horror field, and while his cinematic endeavors have been hit-and-miss, Candyman ranks among his very best. It concerns an ambitious grad student (Virginia Madsen) who pursues urban legends about a hook-handed murderer into Chicago’s infamous Cabrini Green housing project. Barker produced the film, based on one of his short stories, and director Bernard …

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Today in Movie History: October 13

It’s a really big day today, starting with the banner release of two bona fide classics on the same day. The sentimental favorite is Harvey, based on a smash play that gave Jimmy Stewart one of his most beloved roles. There’s something about him credibly holding the screen with an invisible six-foot rabbit that may or may not exist that speaks …

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Today in Movie History: October 11

Howard Hawks and Humphrey Bogart made beautiful music together, but with To Have and Have Not, the director had to make room for a third wheel. Lauren Bacall, the love of Bogart’s life, appeared with him for the first of four onscreen pairings, and the result was electric.  Bacall’s line, “you know how to whistle, don’t you?” is the stuff of movie …

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Movies for the Resistance: Duck Soup

(Welcome to Movies for the Resistance, a weekly column intended to showcase films with particular pertinence for 2017. One of the fundamental purposes of art in general, and movies in particular, is to serve as a spiritual armory: bringing hope, timely lessons and shared experiences when times are dark. They can move us to positive political action, lend insight to the inexplicable, …

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Today in Movie History: October 10

David Lynch understands outsiders as few other filmmakers, and nowhere did he place us more heartbreakingly in their shoes than with The Elephant Man. John Hurt earned an Oscar nomination for his turn as John Merrick, the disfigured circus performer who escaped his brutal lot to find a life of dignity and acceptance in Victorian England. It opened today in 1980, and …

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Today in Movie History: October 9

The French Connection is justly celebrated for one of the most dynamic car chases of all time, though it wins no points for public endangerment: it was reportedly created simply by setting cameras up along uncleared streets in NYC, then telling star Gene Hackman to floor it. Nevertheless, it’s a harrowing, incredible sequence befitting the down-and-dirty police procedural that surrounds …

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Today in Movie History: October 6

We’ve got a couple of Oscar winners today. We’ll start with the one that nabbed the big prize: The Departed, a solid gangster epic about loyalty and betrayal based on an equally good Asian film called Infernal Affairs. In any other year, it would have been notable, but not Best Picture material. However, since it was directed by Martin Scorsese, …