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 …

Jaws (1975)
Roy Scheider
Credit: Universal Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

Today in Movie History: June 20

In 1974, Universal Pictures handed the adaptation of a dreadful little potboiler to an untested director with just a couple of films under his belt. The production was plagued by accidents, delays and cost overruns. The script was a mess, the cast cantankerous, and the main selling point depended on special effects that just didn’t work. It looked for all …

Indy

Today in Movie History: June 12

It’s a big day for movie releases today, but there’s no doubt which one leads the list. Action and adventure have been a part of the movies since the Lumiere brothers sent audiences diving for cover with the approach of a moving train. We’ve seen some amazing entries in the genre over the ensuing 120 years, but none of them …

ghostbusters

Today in Movie History: June 8

We’ve been getting our 80s on recently, and today is a red letter date for that. We’ll start with the earliest: Trading Places, John Landis’s Wall Street retake on The Prince and the Pauper, remains a doggedly entertaining comedy provided you can accept that its heroes emerge triumphant via insider trading. Buoyed by Dan Aykroyd’s fantastic blue-blood buffoon and Eddie …

Goonies

Today in Movie History: June 7

Goonies. We hear tell they never say die, and while rose-colored glasses may help its reputation far more than a sober look at it today, it’s hard to argue with a cult classic after 30+ years of unadulterated love. For Gen-Xers, it’s a touchstone of our era. For everyone else, it’s a ripe slice of 80s cinema at its 80s-est. …

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 …

600px-Rambo2_2011

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 …

schindlers_list_5_neeson

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 …