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Today in Movie History: August 28

With the screenplays for Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back under his belt, Lawrence Kasdan was ready to try his hand at directing. His freshman effort proved to be a stunner: Body Heat, a super-steamy update of the classic Double Indemnity, in which a sleazy Florida lawyer (William Hurt) falls for a routinely naked woman (Kathleen Turner) who needs help …

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Today in Movie History: August 24

It’s a reasonably quiet day, so we’ll start with a reasonably quiet film: Brief Encounter, David Lean’s affecting romance about a married woman (Ceia Johnson) who meets a handsome stranger on the train and considers having an affair with him. It helped cement Lean’s reputation and opened the door to one of the most fruitful careers in the history of …

The Big Sleep

Today in Movie History: August 23

No contest as to what we’re starting with today: The Big Sleep Howard Hawks’ adaptation of the famed Raymond Chandler novel, now widely regarded as one of the greatest detective movies ever made. Its status as a staple of film noir hides a few too many twists — who the hell did kill that chauffeur? — but with Humphrey Bogart …

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Today in Movie History: August 21

The top spot today belongs to An American Werewolf in London: John Landis’s groundbreaking horror-comedy that deftly redefined the genre. Aided by Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning make-up effects (and a transformation scene that may never be topped), it routinely dukes it out with the immortal The Wolfman for the greatest werewolf movie ever made. It opened today in 1981, and please people: whatever you …

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Today in Movie History: August 20

They don’t call them the dog days for nothing. Today’s sole entry stands as perhaps the most notable example of sloppy seconds in cinematic history: The Beastmaster, a dippy swords-and-sorcery epic that opened a few months after the genre flagship Conan the Barbarian and clearly the lesser work in every conceivable way. Nevertheless, it achieved a measure of renown, mostly on virtue …

Brian

Today in Movie History: August 17

Everything’s turning up Jesus today… though not quite in the way you might expect. We’ll start with Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, the legendary comedy troupe’s follow-up to Holy Grail that ignited the expected firestorm of controversy among those least able to appreciate what it was trying to say. It remains brilliant, of course, and while time has blunted the …

Usual

Today in Movie History: August 16

Film lovers often talk about the joy of being surprised: walking into a movie expecting nothing more than a couple of hours’ worth of entertainment, and delighted to discover a masterpiece in its place. So it was with The Usual Suspects, a seemingly by-the-numbers crime thriller than morphed into something extraordinary. Two Oscars later (one for Kevin Spacey and one for …