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Today in Movie History: December 14

It was a good day for epics, starting with Edward Zwick’s classic Civil War tale Glory, which (among other things) gave Denzel Washington his first Oscar. You like your epics big, loud and featuring Charlton Heston? December 14 also saw the release of Anthony Mann’s minor classic El Cid back in 1961. 1984 saw three notable science fiction movies released today… well okay, …

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Today in Movie History: June 11

Today was a big day for Mr. Spielberg, with opening dates for two of his acknowledged classics. We’ll start with E.T., the story of a lonely little boy (Henry Thomas) who befriends a stranded alien in the woods behind his home. It touched a chord in audiences when it first opened and now stands as perhaps the most “Spielbergian” of the …

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Today in Movie History: June 3

As Billy Wilder comedies go, The Seven Year Itch never packed the punch of, say, Some Like It Hot or The Apartment. It’s amusing enough, but the Hays Code pulled the teeth from the Broadway play on which it was based, about a married man tempted by… well shit, by Marilyn Freaking Monroe. That leaves it minor Wilder at best, save for that …

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Today in Movie History: April 23

Two films released on the same day mark a quiet April 23. We’ll start with Existenz, David Cronenberg’s exploration of virtual reality, mass culture, and the ability to form a functioning firearm out of dinner leftovers. It stands as one of the director’s stranger efforts — and that’s saying something — but also eerily prescient in its exploration of online media …

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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 …