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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: January 17

Children of the 80s doubtless remember the California Raisins, an advertising phenom created by the Claymation artists at Will Vinton studios. The same studio produced a rather marvelous animated feature shortly thereafter: The Adventures of Mark Twain, a fantastical collection of the celebrated author’s short stories loosely wrapped around the premise of Twain himself (along with his most beloved creations) …

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Today in Movie History: November 8

It’s a big day in more ways than one, so let’s get to it. For 45 years, Shakespeare’s Henry V belonged firmly to Laurence Olivier, whose 1944 version was considered definitive. Intended to rally the British nation during World War II, it offered a fairy-tale atmosphere of inevitable victory and proved so potent that no one dared make another version of …

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Today in Movie History: October 10

David Lynch understands outsiders as few other filmmakers, and nowhere did he place us more heartbreakingly in their shoes than with The Elephant Man. John Hurt earned an Oscar nomination for his turn as John Merrick, the disfigured circus performer who escaped his brutal lot to find a life of dignity and acceptance in Victorian England. It opened today in 1980, and …

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Today in Movie History: May 6

We’re closing out the week of Marvel… and for the first time this week when there’s been a Marvel release, the column isn’t topped by it. The pole position goes to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, long considered one of the greatest adaptaions of Shakespeare’s masterpiece ever put on film, and which netted Olivier Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor. (He …

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Today in Movie History: January 14

Damn Alan Rickman too? Our obit will follow semi-directly. And then someone said, “let’s make a movie version of The Green Hornet, and let Seth Rogen write and star!” And they did. And it opened today in 2011, and died a horrible death at the box office, and everyone forgot about it. Until now. You’re welcome. Elsewhere… Roger Corman didn’t …

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Today in Movie History: November 13

It was a busy day for movie openings.  Claude Rains terrorized the English countryside in The Invisible Man (1933); Robert Mitchum faced down Kirk Douglas in the noir classic Out of the Past (1947); Steven Spielberg launched his career with Duel (1971); Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated how to completely butcher a Stephen King novel in The Running Man; Martin Scorsese delivered …