08_batman_1989

Today in Movie History: June 23

A brutally full day in movie history always seems to be followed by a nearly empty one. Fortunately, today’s single entry — while a deeply flawed film in many ways — also ranks as one of the most fascinating in history. Tim Burton’s Batman arrived in an era when superhero films began and ended with Christopher Reeve, and initially, no one …

Chinatown ending

Today in Movie History: June 21

I tend to disapprove of nihilism in the movies, since it usually comes across as smug posturing from arrogant directors who have no real experience with true human darkness. That doesn’t apply to Roman Polanski, a man who has gazed into the abyss from both sides and knows its secrets the way few of us ever will. Nowhere is that better showcased than with Chinatown, his …

Matt Damon in a scene from the motion picture The Bourne Ultimatum. --- DATE TAKEN: rec'd 07/07  By Jasin Boland   Universal Studios        HO      - handout   ORG XMIT: ZX61392

Today in Movie History: June 14

When talking about underrated franchises, the Jason Bourne films might be at the top of the list. They don’t have the profile of James Bond or the MCU, but with five movies in the can, they established a reasonably high standard of quality that belies their airport paperback originals. Credit for that goes both to directors like Doug Liman and …

Indy

Today in Movie History: June 12

It’s a big day for movie releases today, but there’s no doubt which one leads the list. Action and adventure have been a part of the movies since the Lumiere brothers sent audiences diving for cover with the approach of a moving train. We’ve seen some amazing entries in the genre over the ensuing 120 years, but none of them …

Shining

Today in Movie History: May 23

Given its status as one of the most beloved horror movies of all time, it’s hard to believe that critics were none too fond of The Shining when it was originally released. Indeed, Stephen King himself always expressed dissatisfaction with it — adapted from one of his most personal works — and even responded with a newer made-for-television version that was much more faithful to …

woman-of-the-year-katharine-hepburn

Today in Movie History: January 19

We start off today with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, who appeared in one of their very best collaborations, Woman of the Year on this date in 1942. Director George Stevens knew how to bring their incomparable comic chemistry to life, and though this was only their first movie together, it proved to be the spark that lit the flame. They …

wolfman

Today in Movie History: December 12

The topper today is a classic from the Golden Age of Universal Horror: The Wolf Man, George Waggner’s quintessential werewolf story featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. as a good man attacked by something out of legend and transformed into a creature of the night. Bela Lugosi and Ralph Bellamy tag along for the ride, and the results are one of the …

departed

Today in Movie History: October 6

We’ve got a couple of Oscar winners today. We’ll start with the one that nabbed the big prize: The Departed, a solid gangster epic about loyalty and betrayal based on an equally good Asian film called Infernal Affairs. In any other year, it would have been notable, but not Best Picture material. However, since it was directed by Martin Scorsese, …

006-la-grande-illusion-theredlist

Today in Movie History: September 12

Academics tend to cite Rules of the Game as Jean Renoir’s indisputable masterpiece, but I much prefer La Grande Illusion, his tale of French soldiers plotting an escape from a German POW camp during the First World War. The strange fluidity of their bonds gives their relationship real heft, and Renoir’s observations about class and prejudice are sharp, sad and always true …

x-men-2000-hugh-jackman-1

Today in Movie History: July 14

I’m going to start with the X-Men, less because of what their debut onscreen adventure achieves in and of itself than what it heralded for the future of movies. Marvel Comics adaptations had been mired in direct-to-video mediocrity for decades, and while Wesley Snipes’ Blade was the first of their heroes to achieve mainstream movie success, he was more of an …