“Bond. James Bond.”
From the dawn of civilization until the end of time, no human being will be one-tenth as cool as Sean Connery was at that moment. From three little words came the franchise to end all franchises, with no signs of slowing down. 007’s immortal debut, Dr. No, hit U.S. screens today in 1963.
A few years later, another notable franchise began its five-year mission, which lasted far longer than anyone thought, but looked to be on life support when J.J. Abrams undertook a reboot. We’re still assessing how far it will go with Chris Pine in the captain’s chair instead of William Shatner, but no one could argue that 2009’s revamped Star Trek was a smashing success. (And Anton Yelchin, we still miss you.)
Star Wars may have changed the face of movies in 1977, but the year’s other most notable film had plenty of staying power as well. Annie Hall, the pinnacle of Woody Allen’s nebbish shtick, ended up scooping Star Wars at the Oscars, and today remains one of the most beloved comedies ever made. Pity the director turned out to be such a creep…
Speaking of great comedies, Edgar Wright scored a monster hit with Shaun of the Dead, but for our money his follow up is even better. Hot Fuzz, a spot-on (and very British) send up of Michael Bay-style action films, is an instant cure for blockbuster fatigue and the best satire of the last decade. It opened today in 2007.
Wright and his star Simon Pegg both expressed a profound affection for George A. Romero, and Romero himself called Shaun of the Dead the greatest Valentine to his work that he could hope for. It’s fitting, then, that one of the their films shares a release date with the original inimitable accept-no-substitutes zombie masterpiece Dawn of the Dead, which opened today in 1979.