Kirk-Spock-Wrath-of-Khan

Today in Movie History: June 4

Two future classics opened on the exact same day today in 1982: a period when you literally could open giant movies on the same weekend and expect them both to thrive. We’ll start with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, widely regarded as the high point of the entire Star Trek phenomenon. After the underwhelming response to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, …

Seven-Years-itch-subway

Today in Movie History: June 3

As Billy Wilder comedies go, The Seven Year Itch never packed the punch of, say, Some Like It Hot or The Apartment. It’s amusing enough, but the Hays Code pulled the teeth from the Broadway play on which it was based, about a married man tempted by… well shit, by Marilyn Freaking Monroe. That leaves it minor Wilder at best, save for that …

Moulin-Rouge1_610_407shar_s_c1

Today in Movie History: June 1

Though it didn’t foster a full-bore revival of the Hollywood musical, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! succeeded in updating the baggy old genre for an entirely new generation. Luhrmann’s trademark attention span deficit and the expert addition of modern pop songs into the mix turned an exercise in empty style into a beloved modern classic, and while I struggle with the film’s abrupt …

Fletch

Today in Movie History: May 31

What can one say about Fletch, arguably the best film Chevy Chase ever made with a deep and abiding cult following to back it up? It’s as funny as it always was… though it does highlight a tendency of 80s cinema to present some frankly repugnant characters as heroes. Chase’s Irwin Fletcher is self-important, obnoxious, exploitative and sometimes downright cruel. Luckily for the …

NemoPR180712

Today in Movie History: May 30

For the second day in a row, we have a Pixar masterpiece to celebrate. Finding Nemo is typical of the studio’s best efforts, which is to say it’s funny and moving and visually gorgeous and you can’t quite imagine how the cinematic canon got along without it. Albert Brooks provides the voice of Marlin,  an anxiety-prone clownfish whose son Nemo …

Up

Today in Movie History: May 29

The Pixar canon is as storied as they come, and to rise to the top of it is a rare accomplishment indeed. Fans may debate which one deserves the title of “greatest,” and there are at least half a dozen viable contenders… but Pete Docter’s sublime Up holds a permanent space among them. It tells the tale of a lonely old man (voiced …

Leiadeathstar

Today in Movie History: May 25

Once upon a time, 20th Century Fox had what they thought was a stinker of a science-fiction film on their hands.  They opened it in a tiny handful of theaters today in 1977, in hopes that it would vanish without causing too much embarassment. The movie was called Star Wars, and I’m pretty sure you can guess what happened next. The game-changing nature of George …

Last Crusade

Today in Movie History: May 24

It’s blockbuster season, so I’ll start with the biggest. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — widely regarded as the best of the series after the original — benefited from the genius pairing of Harrison Ford’s redoubtable archaeologist with Sean Connery as his fussy, disapproving father. It opened today in 1989. Slightly further down the sequel list, we find Back to …

Shining

Today in Movie History: May 23

Given its status as one of the most beloved horror movies of all time, it’s hard to believe that critics were none too fond of The Shining when it was originally released. Indeed, Stephen King himself always expressed dissatisfaction with it — adapted from one of his most personal works — and even responded with a newer made-for-television version that was much more faithful to …