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Today in Movie History: November 13

It was a busy day for movie openings.  Claude Rains terrorized the English countryside in The Invisible Man (1933); Robert Mitchum faced down Kirk Douglas in the noir classic Out of the Past (1947); Steven Spielberg launched his career with Duel (1971); Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated how to completely butcher a Stephen King novel in The Running Man; Martin Scorsese delivered …

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Today in Movie History: November 9

I note with some irony that the movie everyone was talking about 33 years ago was a truly awful slasher film called Silent Night, Deadly Night: a greasy little piece of exploitation trash that used the gimmick of a killer in a Santa suit to cover up for its lack of anything worthwhile. But while the cinematic world was up in …

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Today in Movie History: November 8

It’s a big day in more ways than one, so let’s get to it. For 45 years, Shakespeare’s Henry V belonged firmly to Laurence Olivier, whose 1944 version was considered definitive. Intended to rally the British nation during World War II, it offered a fairy-tale atmosphere of inevitable victory and proved so potent that no one dared make another version of …

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Today in Movie History: November 7

Small confession: I was not fond of Jon Favreau’s Elf when it was first released, and while time has warmed me to its charms, my feelings remain mixed. But I’m definitely in the minority on this one, and in the last decade it has become a reliable holiday classic that makes lots of folks happy during the Christmas season. It opened today …

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Today in Movie History: November 6

Terry Gilliam is a singular filmmaker, and like many singular filmmakers, some of his films are better than others. But not even the harshest critics would deny Time Bandits a spot on his Greatest Hits list. The story concerns a lonely young boy (Craig Warnock) who follows a six-pack of dwarves through a hole in space-time, sending them careening through the ages …

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Today in Movie History: November 3

Stephen King understands bullies as few others before him, which is one of the reasons why his terror tales hold so much power. His first novel, Carrie — inspired by experiences in high school — taps into the fear, alienation and rage of being the constant target of abuse, and in the hands of director Brian De Palma, it became one of …

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Today in Movie History: November 2

Oscar bait tends to do a lot of hand-wringing about social causes, but in the case of Roland Joffe’s The Killing Fields, it’s more than just the musings of limousine liberals. It depicts the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge and the horror show that followed, bringing the human cost of nationwide slaughter into sharp relief through the intimate relationships …

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Today in Movie History: November 1

Paul Newman is cool. Really, really cool. How cool? Cool enough to have a movie with the word “cool” in the title… a movie that’s been the go-to choice for anyone looking for movies with “cool” in the title for almost 50 years. The film was Cool Hand Luke, of course, and Newman’s portrayal of a workhouse inmate determined to stick …