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Today in Movie History: June 15

It’s a big day today, and we’ll start with the most recent. Amid all the hubbub over 2008’s The Dark Knight, it’s easy to forget just what an amazing job its predecessor, Batman Begins, did after Tim Burton’s singular-but-flawed vision and the depressing crassness of the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Bat-fans were hungry for the kind of lean, grounded tale that Christopher Nolan …

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Today in Movie History: April 10

1981 was a banner year for science fiction, fantasy and horror movies… perhaps moreso even than 1982, which is usually gited as the high water mark for genre cinema. Two of that year’s bumper crop were released today. First up, Excalibur: John Boorman’s ambitious attempt to cover the entire Arthur legend from conception to death. Its reach exceeds its grasp more …

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Today in Movie History: April 7

We have a very diverse quartet to recognize today, starting with the earliest. Abel Gance’s passion project Napoleon, covering the early years of the French leader’s life, became one of the most innovative efforts of the silent era: pioneering numerous techniques such as multi-camera set-ups and multi-screen projection (making it one of the first truly widescreen movies) that influenced countless …

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Today in Movie History: January 27

At the top of today’s list Danny Kaye’s The Court Jester, released in 1956. It stands as a high point of Kaye’s career, both for the marvelous way he sends up Errol Flynn-style swashbuckling (complete with Basil Rathbone as the villain) and for the marvelous wordplay of the script (“the pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the …

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Today in Movie History: December 15

Man, there are some big movies  released today. We’re going to start with the grim one: one of the most important movies of all time, a chilling testament to the Holocaust, and demonstrative artistic validation for one of the greatest directors ever. Schindler’s List opened today in 1993. Above and beyond its merits as cinema, its success led to the …

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Today in Movie History: July 13

We’re giving the top spot today to The Dead Pool, the fifth and presumably the last of the Dirty Harry franchise. It actually ranks as one of the better ones, with a surprising sense of humor to go along with Clint Eastwood’s thundering political context. But that’s not why it tops the list. It tops the list because it contains one of …