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Today in Movie History: September 25

Like a surprising number of classics, The Princess Bride didn’t do particularly well when first released in theaters. Audiences weren’t sure what to expect from the combination of gentle satire and straight-faced romance, and largely stayed away… only to discover it on video like so many other films of the era. Today, of course, it’s an indispensable part of the canon: one of …

apocalypse now

Today in Movie History: August 15

Disaster or masterpiece? That distinction can hinge on the razor’s edge sometimes, especially when an ambitious, talented and possibly crazy filmmaker is involved. Case in point: Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s effort to encapsulate the war in Vietnam as seen through a variation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The shoot was infamous for its delays, debacles and outright danger, …

Thief

Today in Movie History: March 27

If gritty crime dramas are your game, Michael Mann is your director. And while I’d cite the likes of Heat, Manhunter and Collateral as unabashed masterpieces, they are preceded by Thief which set the pace for those triumphs to follow. James Caan plays a brilliant jewel thief trying to go straight, enticed into one last score that goes dreadfully wrong. Mann succeeds …

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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 …