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Today in Movie History: February 19

Sometimes, it takes a royal jackass to stare the gibbering maw of evil in the eye and send it back to the howling pit from whence it came… even if said jackass is a barely employable stock boy with a chainsaw for a hand. Sam Raimi’s immortal Army of Darkness opened 25 years ago today in 1993.

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Today in Movie History: February 16

I confess a soft spot for Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, a strange and marvelous little horror film that puts Barker’s talents for the weird and unusual on full display. A tale of beautiful monsters and evil men, it features (among other things) a surprisingly good performance from fellow horror director David Cronenberg as (what else?) a crazed serial killer. It opened today …

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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 …

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Today in Movie History: February 9

A fairly quiet day for movie releases, marked by a remarkably unremarkable Western. Cimarron, a turgid tale of the Oklahoma land rush and the various soap opera theatrics that which followed, opened today in 1931. It’s interesting mainly because it was released before the Hays Code, which means it’s reasonably steamy for its era, and it succeeded in walking off with …

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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 …

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Movies for the Resistance: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

(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, …