Our big movie today is Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen’s incredible WW II epic that not only has us rooting for the Germans, but delivers what is unquestionably the greatest submarine movie of all time. It opened in the U.S. today in 1982, and if you haven’t seen it yet, get thee to the nearest convenient distribution platform posthaste!
Sam Raimi was still working to shed his image as a horror filmmaker when he delivered The Quick and the Dead, a fabulously ridiculous ode to spaghetti westerns that opened today in 1995. Besides the director’s inspired over-the-top visual style, it features a full ammo belt of great actors having the time of their lives. Sharon Stone, fresh off of Basic Instinct, justifies all the attention she was getting for perhaps the only time in her career, while her nemesis Gene Hackman just revels in the sheer nastiness of his sinister gunfighter. He’s joined by the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio and Russell Crowe — both relative unknowns on their way up at the time — as well as veteran character actors Keith David, Lance Henriksen and Gary Sinese. We’re even willing to forgive it its ruthless cribbing of Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s simply having too much fun to care…. and it even manages to slip a little girl power into the equation too.
The later career of John Carpenter was marked by a gradual fall from the form that made him a legend in genre filmmaking. He put that fall on hold for one glorious moment when his last truly great movie — In The Mouth of Madness — opened today in 1995. Sam Neill plays a cynical private investigator hired to find a missing horror author, only to end up in one of the author’s books brought to life. (Or was he always there?) The film had great fun breaking down the fourth wall, as well as playing with the idea that horror stories are somehow responsible for social unrest… and what things would look like if that were really the case.
Genre filmmaking also saw a few more modern notables opening today. The Innkeepers, Ti West’s wonderful slow-burn tale of a haunted hotel, opened today in 2011, while Chronicle, the fascinating debut of director Josh Trank (whose implosion during 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot is now the stuff of Hollywood legend), debuted today in 2012.
On a much different note, Walt Disney Pictures released The Three Caballeros today in 1945. It strings together a loose series of sketches aimed at exploring and celebrating Latin America, linked by Donald Duck palling around with a pair of animated bird friends. It’s minor Disney at best, but retains some charm and is interesting simply to see something off the beaten path from the House of Mouse.