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Today in Movie History: November 1

Paul Newman is cool. Really, really cool. How cool? Cool enough to have a movie with the word “cool” in the title… a movie that’s been the go-to choice for anyone looking for movies with “cool” in the title for almost 50 years. The film was Cool Hand Luke, of course, and Newman’s portrayal of a workhouse inmate determined to stick …

manchurian-candidate

Today in Movie History: October 24

The original version of The Manchurian Candidate set the standards for eerily plausible Cold War paranoia, involving brainwashed U.S. soldiers unwittingly doing the bidding of their communist masters in the heat of a presidential campaign. It was pulled from release following the assassination of JFK, and it’s not hard to see why: its power is absolutely terrifying. It opened today in …

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Today in Movie History: October 17

For a supposedly quiet month, October is chock full of terrific movies. We’ll start with Bullitt, a movie that’s less a classic in and of itself than a classic car chase with a movie wrapped around it. The rest of the film is boilerplate cops-and-robbers stuff, but when Steve McQueen gets behind the wheel of that Mustang, something magic happens. Bullitt opened …

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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 …

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Today in Movie History: September 20

We’re starting today with The Battle of Algiers, a searing semi-documentary — commissioned by the Algerian government — about their fight for independence from the French. It weighs both sides of the conflict in surprisingly even-handed terms, as well as providing stunning insight into the nature and fallout of insurgent violence to enact political change. It opened in the U.S. today …

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Today in Movie History: December 8

We’re going to start with Ang Lee, the only non-white to win more than one Best Director Oscar and whose vision continues to expand with every film he makes. Among his very best is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a love letter to the wuxia films of his youth that manages to elevate the genre to masterpiece status. A sumptuous adventure, a tragic …