Last Crusade

Today in Movie History: May 24

It’s blockbuster season, so I’ll start with the biggest. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — widely regarded as the best of the series after the original — benefited from the genius pairing of Harrison Ford’s redoubtable archaeologist with Sean Connery as his fussy, disapproving father. It opened today in 1989. Slightly further down the sequel list, we find Back to …

Shining

Today in Movie History: May 23

Given its status as one of the most beloved horror movies of all time, it’s hard to believe that critics were none too fond of The Shining when it was originally released. Indeed, Stephen King himself always expressed dissatisfaction with it — adapted from one of his most personal works — and even responded with a newer made-for-television version that was much more faithful to …

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Today in Movie History: May 22

The summer season traditionally kicked off on Memorial Day weekend, with the pre-planned 600-lb. gorilla du jour grabbing the pole position every year. Unfortunately, that meant a lot of high-end sequels of dubious quality landing in late May: notable more  for failing to meet expectations than advancing whatever the franchise in question was. Yet all of them remain interesting… as cinematic …

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Today in Movie History: December 18

Let’s cut to the chase: The Two Towers hit theaters fifteen years ago today in 2002. Among its copious assets is a sterling performance from Andy Serkis as Gollum, which ushered in an entirely new way of portraying fantasy figures onscreen. It also constituted an impressive piece of filmmaking in and of itself, and while it really is simply the middle …

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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: December 11

“You can’t handle the truth!” Okay, maybe you can. Rob Reiner’s rip-roaring military courtroom drama A Few Good Men hit theaters 25 years ago today in 1992. The same day, the Muppets delivered their version of A Christmas Carol, with Michael Caine playing Scrooge. Besides the film itself (which is good holiday fun), it marked the first movie appearance of Kermit the Frog since …

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Cary Guffey, 1977

Today in Movie History: November 16

Ask anyone what their favorite Steven Spielberg movie is, and few will say Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But ask them what their top five Spielberg films are, and most people would likely find room for it. It’s as strong a film as he’s ever made — an early sign that he could do far more than just scare people …

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Today in Movie History: November 13

It was a busy day for movie openings.  Claude Rains terrorized the English countryside in The Invisible Man (1933); Robert Mitchum faced down Kirk Douglas in the noir classic Out of the Past (1947); Steven Spielberg launched his career with Duel (1971); Arnold Schwarzenegger demonstrated how to completely butcher a Stephen King novel in The Running Man; Martin Scorsese delivered …

PrivateRyan

Today in Move History: July 24

The pole position today unquestionably goes to Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s ode to the Greatest Generation with a permanent spot on the short list of his absolute masterpieces. The bravura opening sequence remains one of the most harrowing depictions of combat ever put on film (emulated by fellow directors for decades), and the story that unfolds afterwards depicts the grunt’s eye …

Chinatown ending

Today in Movie History: June 21

I tend to disapprove of nihilism in the movies, since it usually comes across as smug posturing from arrogant directors who have no real experience with true human darkness. That doesn’t apply to Roman Polanski, a man who has gazed into the abyss from both sides and knows its secrets the way few of us ever will. Nowhere is that better showcased than with Chinatown, his …