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Today in Movie History: August 7

The Western, as a genre, has supposedly been on death’s door since Heaven’s Gate, though it has continued in fits and starts, and still sees its share of memorable films crop up. None rose higher than Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s farewell to the genre that made him famous, and easily one of the greatest films on his impressive resume. It explores notions of violence …

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Today in Movie History: July 13

Today marks the 40th anniversary of The Spy Who Loved Me, one of the high points of the Roger Moore James Bond era that found him flashing his playboy spy routine to increasingly ridiculous ends. The villain’s a bit of a snoozer, and while Barbara Bach looks great in a slinky dress, she’s still too passive to make the strong impression required …

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Today in Movie History: June 30

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory may have taken more liberties with the beloved source novel than the Tim Burton effort a few years ago, but it found the spirit much more readily… mostly because it treats Willy Wonka as mysterious and more than a little scary instead of one of Burton’s patented misunderstood misfits. There’s a reason why this one …

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Today in Movie History: June 28

We’ll start today with Heaven Can Wait, proof that Warren Beatty’s directing career was more than just hubris, and one of several movies that defy the normal face-clawing awfulness of body switching comedies.  It opened today in 1978. Then there’s Pale Rider, Clint Eastwood’s effort to revive the moribund Western genre years after Heaven’s Gate upposedly killed it for good. It didn’t …

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Today in Movie History: May 10

Two brilliant comedic troupes hit high points today. We’ll start with the boys in Britain who, with a successful TV show behind them and absolutely zero money to back them up, put together a comic take on the Knights of the Round Table that we’re pretty sure you’re familiar with. Monty Python and the Holy Grail opened today in 1975. …

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Today in Movie History: April 19

Two big films and three smaller-but-notable ones today. We start with La Dolce Vita, Frederico Fellini’s ode to Rome, the jet set, and sexy girls splashing around in fountains. It took the world by storm when it was initially released, and for my money remains Fellini’s best film. It was released in the United States today in 1961. For a …

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Today in Movie History: January 18

Once upon a time, a TV cowboy named Clint got handed a script for a low-budget Italian Western that he immediately recognized as a hastily redressed version of Yojimbo. He took the job, for a free trip to Italy he claims, and in the process helped reinvent an entire genre. A Fistful of Dollars opened today in the U.S. in …

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Today in Movie History: December 29

It was a good day for bad men at the movies, starting with Sergio’s Leone’s legendary The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, released in the U.S. on December 29, 1967. Leone wrapped a strange anti-war message into her farewell to The Man with No Name, as well as providing the great Eli Wallach with his finest role. Sam Peckinpah had …

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Today in Movie History: December 28

It was a fairly quiet date as far as releases go, owing to our perennial post-Christmas malaise. Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound hit theaters in 1945, a second-tier effort from the master, but still notable thanks mostly to Salvador Dali’s haunting dream sequences. (On the more gossip-y end of things, the production involved a secret tryst between stars Gregory Peck and Ingrid …