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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 …

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Today in Movie History: November 7

Small confession: I was not fond of Jon Favreau’s Elf when it was first released, and while time has warmed me to its charms, my feelings remain mixed. But I’m definitely in the minority on this one, and in the last decade it has become a reliable holiday classic that makes lots of folks happy during the Christmas season. It opened today …

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Today in Movie History: July 18

Mid-July is blockbuster time — usually when the last of the heavy hitters shows up to crush the box office before giving way to the earthier guilty pleasures of August. A pair of great sequels mark the day, notably The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to his already impressive Batman Begins. In less than a decade, it’s already become the …

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Today in Movie History: June 15

It’s a big day today, and we’ll start with the most recent. Amid all the hubbub over 2008’s The Dark Knight, it’s easy to forget just what an amazing job its predecessor, Batman Begins, did after Tim Burton’s singular-but-flawed vision and the depressing crassness of the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Bat-fans were hungry for the kind of lean, grounded tale that Christopher Nolan …

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Movies for the Resistance: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

(Welcome to Movies for the Resistance, a weekly column intended to showcase films with particular pertinence for 2017. One of the fundamental purposes of art in general, and movies in particular, is to serve as a spiritual armory: bringing hope, timely lessons and shared experiences when times are dark. They can move us to positive political action, lend insight to …

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Today in Movie History: December 16

It’s another big day for movies and we’ll start with one of the very biggest: Lawrence of Arabia, David Lean’s breathtaking epic about the Englishman who rallied a nation to his side during World War I, then tried to give them their independence in exchange. You could call it the greatest movie ever made and not be immediately disputed. It …

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Today in Movie History: January 15

Riddle me this, Caped Crusader: how do you produce the greatest Shakespeare adaptation of all time without using a single line of Shakespeare? You give it to Akira Kurosawa, that’s how. Throne of Blood — his magnificent, peerless, stunningly powerful samurai version of Macbeth — opened in Japan this day in 1957. The great Toshiro Mifune turned in one of numerous …