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Today in Movie History: December 10

There are good films, there are great films and then there are films that ennoble the medium by their very existence. Lawrence of Arabia is such a movie: a singular towering achievement that made full use of director David Lean’s incomparable sense of the epic. Peter O’Toole launched his career as the titular British soldier, whose campaign against the Turks …

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Today in Movie History: April 12

On the list of great directors whom the Academy shafted, Alfred Hitchcock is pretty high. The only film of his that won Best Picture was Rebecca, a solid though hardly groundbreaking slice of Gothic based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. Hitch didn’t even win Best Director that year — it went to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath — and he …

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Today in Movie History: November 22

It’s another big day for the movies, starting with a trio of modern classics from the Disney/Pixar brain trust. It’s tough to single out one from that field, but I’m going with Beauty and the Beast: hands-down one of the greatest animated features of all time. It opened today in 1991. Four years later, the boys at Pixar quietly started a revolution …

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Movies for the Resistance: Spartacus

(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: May 6

We’re closing out the week of Marvel… and for the first time this week when there’s been a Marvel release, the column isn’t topped by it. The pole position goes to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, long considered one of the greatest adaptaions of Shakespeare’s masterpiece ever put on film, and which netted Olivier Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor. (He …

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Today in Movie History: March 11

There’s nothing quite like a villain, and nobody could do them like William Shakespeare. I confess I prefer Ian McKellen’s take on his bloodiest king, Richard III, but Laurence Olivier had his own version of it, and it’s well worth a look. It opened today in 1956. And hey, if scheming kings are your thing, then you get a double dose today. Peter …