Today in Movie History: September 23

Though well-received critically, The Shawshank Redemption failed to generate much heat at the box office, and was swamped at the Oscars by the competing behemoths of Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump. Hourly screenings on TNT changed all of that and today, it’s considered one of the greatest movies of the 1990s… as well as cementing director Frank Darabont’s reputation as the go-to adaptor of high-end Stephen King novels. The Shawshank Redemption opened today in 1994.

It’s a big day for David Cronenberg too, featuring two movies of his that supposedly demonstrated his ability to move beyond the horror genre that made him famous. The first, Dead Ringers, charts the slow descent of a pair of identical twin gynecologists (both played by Jeremy Irons) into drug addiction and madness. The second, A History of Violence, entails the hidden past of a seemingly normal coffee-shop owner (Viggo Mortensen) which comes knocking on the door of his idyllic life. Both are exceptional examples of a director at the top of his game. (And to date, he doesn’t have a single Oscar nomination. NOT EVEN A NOMINATION.) Dead Ringers opened today in 1988. A History of Violence opened today in 2005.

Finally, we’ll close with a favorite: Arsenic and Old Lace, Frank Capra’s adaptation of the darkly funny Joseph Kesselring play. It concerns an aristocratic writer (Cary Grant) who fears that he may succumb to his family’s hereditary insanity… as evinced most prominently by his two batty aunts, who periodically off their gentleman callers. It’s a bit stagey, but otherwise a hoot. It opened today in 1944.