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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, …

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Today in Movie History: October 5

You’d think they’d release a movie like The Ten Commandments closer to Passover, when it might be more pertinent. But back in the 1950s, release dates worked differently, and films often had months or even years to play in theaters before moving on (and frankly, with the exception of network television, there was nowhere else to move on to). Hence, …

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Today in Movie History: October 4

It didn’t land Sandra Bullock another Oscar, but it came darn close, and while watching it on your TV can’t quite match the white-knuckle terror of an IMAX screening, Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity rarely disappoints when it comes to sheer movie-making prowess. And while it’s only been three years, it’s not too early to start weighing its potential status as a sci-fi …

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Movies for the Resistance: Denial

(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 3

The Maltese Falcon belongs in that rarefied air of movies that exist solely to be loved by everyone who sees them. Besides signaling the rise of film noir in the 1940s, it made Humphrey Bogart an icon, launched the brilliant career of director John Huston, and turned its titular “dingus” into one of the most recognizable images in cinema. Small wonder it’s …

Near Dark

Today in Movie History: October 2

Before winning an Oscar for Best Director — the first woman to do so — Kathryn Bigelow undertook an ambitious attempt to redefine the vampire genre. It entailed a clan of feral wanderers (played by most of the supporting cast of Aliens, including the late great Bill Paxton) traveling across America’s forgotten highways in search of blood and pulling a hapless country boy …

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Today in Movie History: September 29

Though I prefer the 1937 version of A Star is Born, there’s a lot to recommend in the remake: featuring a comeback turn from Judy Garland as a singer on the rise and James Mason as her fading, alcoholic mentor. Both actors scored Oscar nominations and the film is regarded as one of the seminal musicals of the 1950s. It opened …

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, Michael Rennie, 1951, TM & Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved.

CREDIT: Everett Collection

Today in Movie History: September 28

The 1950s were a Golden Age for science fiction, and few films in that era attained the resonance — both as entertainment and as a movie with something to say — that The Day The Earth Stood Still did. Robert Wise’s pitch-perfect fable of a man from outer space with a message we’re just not capable of hearing is definitely …

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Today in Movie History: September 27

Forest Whitaker has been a Hollywood staple for 20 years when he finally scored Oscar gold in The Last King of Scotland, for his unforgettable performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. The film received criticism for a typically Hollywood tactic of including a white guy to serve as an audience surrogate, but considering the West’s support of the Amin regime — and considering …