annex%20-%20marx%20brothers%20duck%20soup_nrfpt_04

Today in Movie History: November 17

We’re starting with something from the “everything old is new again” file. The Marx Brothers had their share of comedy classics, but many consider their greatest work to be Duck Soup. It highlights the absurdity of authoritarian governments, with the boys’ rollicking chaos presented as a counterpoint to the methodical, planned chaos created by despotic regimes. Can’t imagine why that might …

nightmare-on-elm-street1984-1

Today in Movie History: November 9

I note with some irony that the movie everyone was talking about 33 years ago was a truly awful slasher film called Silent Night, Deadly Night: a greasy little piece of exploitation trash that used the gimmick of a killer in a Santa suit to cover up for its lack of anything worthwhile. But while the cinematic world was up in …

Kiefer_Sutherland

Today in Movie History: July 31

It’s big day for the 80s, topped by 30th anniversary parties for a pair of era staples. We’ll start with The Lost Boys, Joel Schumacher’s teen vampire romp that became an indispensable shared experience for Generation X. I’ll be honest: it’s not great, especially when compared to Kathryn Bigelow’s brilliant Near Dark which came out the same year. But Schumacher did find a dangerous vibe …

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 …

barbara_bach_2006_06_27

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 …

thekingandi

Today in Movie History: June 29

We’ll start with The King and I, one of the greatest musicals ever made and the object of eternal gratitude from us bald men for whom Yul Brynner is just the gift that keeps on giving. It opened today in 1956. In case anyone believes that the media was every anything but a gang of scoop-grubbing weasels, Billy Wilder will …

An evil goblin king, played by David Bowie, pictured  here, a talking door knocker, fairies and a colony of goblins will join producer/director Brian Henson and members of the Jim Henson Creature Shop at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesÕ 20th anniversary screening and onstage discussion of ÒLabyrinthÓ (1986) on Thursday, July 20, at 8 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Today in Movie History: June 27

I was going to start this column with the second movie on the list — and if I had to choose, I’d say it was the better film — but I want to pay brief tribute to David Bowie, whose loss is still so acutely felt. Labyrinth began life as just another box office bomb that found its audience on video, and …

hartman_fullmetaljacket

Today in Movie History: June 26

We’re going all 80s today, starting with Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick’s take on the Vietnam War that turned out to be his penultimate effort as a filmmaker. It’s a harsh, brutal and stereotypically cold effort from the master, and most people agree that the first half — covering the dehumanizing boot camp experience of a group of Marines on Parris …

Last Crusade

Today in Movie History: May 24

It’s blockbuster season, so I’ll start with the biggest. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — widely regarded as the best of the series after the original — benefited from the genius pairing of Harrison Ford’s redoubtable archaeologist with Sean Connery as his fussy, disapproving father. It opened today in 1989. Slightly further down the sequel list, we find Back to …

drno-01

Today in Movie History: May 8

“Bond. James Bond.” From the dawn of civilization until the end of time, no human being will be one-tenth as cool as Sean Connery was at that moment. From three little words came the franchise to end all franchises, with no signs of slowing down. 007’s immortal debut, Dr. No, hit U.S. screens today in 1966. A few years later, another …