jack-nicholson-a-few-good-men-1992-_131278-fli_1364480370

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 …

theinvisibleman1-1024x781

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 …

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 …