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 …

sandra-bullock-600x450

Today in Movie History: June 10

Though heralded as a game-changer at the time, Jan de Bont’s Speed has since been hobbled by the director’s overall lack of quality output and overtaken by superhero movies as the action flavor of choice. It remains breakneck popcorn entertainment, however, and though hardly the most plausible scenario, it holds up to multiple screenings remarkably well. It also made Sandra …

6122_2

Today in Movie History: May 27

These days, with every potential blockbuster hoping to suck up all the air in the room, you never open big films right on top of each other. But it used to happen all the time. And in this case, it was a grand fluke, since nobody expected Star Wars to do anything when it debuted on May 25, 1977. But …

Aragorn-in-the-Return-in-the-King-aragorn-34519488-500-401

Today in Movie History: December 17

12 years ago today, Peter Jackson’s Return of the King arrived in theaters: eventually winning 11 Oscars, cementing our current franchise-heavy cinematic culture and finally validating fantasy movies as an undeniable art form. It’s actually an auspicious date for fantasy movies: Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal came out on the same day in 1982, moving the celebrated puppeteer beyond the …