Today in Movie History: June 5

Peter Weir’s career constitutes one of the more fascinating in modern films, and he was never better than with The Truman Show, a eerily prescient look at life in the digital era. it features Jim Carrey as a man who has unknowingly lived his entire life as the subject of his television show, complete with parents, friends, co-workers and romantic interests all actually actors cast to provide a totally convincing environment. We’re all living with cameras these days, and Weir found a unique way to let us all know what was coming. The Truman Show opened 20 years ago today in 1998.

Harrison Ford has a number of iconic roles on his resume, and while Jack Ryan doesn’t quite rank up there with Han and Indy, there’s no denying the strength he brought to Tom Clancy’s righteous spook. His initial outing, Patriot Games, set him against Sean Bean’s hateful IRA extremist with outstanding results. Anne Archer, James Earl Jones, Richard Harris and a pre-star Samuel L. Jackson get in on the action, but it’s Ford and his righteous anger that make this one work. (On an entirely different note, Ford got his footprints put in cement in front of the famous Chinese Theater as part of the promotion for this film.) Patriot Games opened today in 1992.

Today in Movie History: September 18

You wanna get nuts? Today’s got the hook-up. We’ll start with Fatal Attraction, Adrian Lyne’s lightning rod of gender politics that saw Michael Douglas’s loving family man stalked and threatened by the woman he slept around with (Glenn Close). The film scored not only as a sharp (if slightly overheated) thriller, but for its surprisingly sympathetic approach towards a character ostensibly pegged as the villainness. Close deserved the Oscar for her iconic performance, and while it might be the worst date movie ever, it definitely carries plenty of discussion fodder for those so inclined. It opened 30 years ago today in 1987.

For a equally overheated look at gender politics, there’s always A Streetcar Named Desire: the celebrated Tennessee Williams play given immortal life by director Elia Kazan. Kazan’s off-screen politics notwithstanding (we saw what you did Snitchy), it’s an impressive piece of work: capturing the Southern Gothic sensuality of Williams’ play and turning Marlon Brando into a international sex symbol overnight. It opened today in 1951.

On the other end of the quality scale sits Mommie Dearest, an adaptation of Christine Crawford’s tell-all expose about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her famous mother Joan. The lurid soap-opera quality of the material was always going to be a part of it, but not the uniquely awful results: single-handedly destroying the career of star Faye Dunaway and creating an instant camp classic that ensured no one would ever forget it. It opened today in 1981, and we’re pretty sure no wire hangers were involved.