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Today in Movie History: August 21

The top spot today belongs to An American Werewolf in London: John Landis’s groundbreaking horror-comedy that deftly redefined the genre. Aided by Rick Baker’s Oscar-winning make-up effects (and a transformation scene that may never be topped), it routinely dukes it out with the immortal The Wolfman for the greatest werewolf movie ever made. It opened today in 1981, and please people: whatever you …

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Today in Movie History: March 6

There are good movies, there are great movies, and then there are movies that have become indispensable parts of the pop culture language. We didn’t think The Big Lebowski would join them, at least initially. It felt like a goofy one-off from the Coen Brothers: blowing off steam after the triumph of Fargo. Turns out, their shaggy-dog take on Raymond Chandler mysteries …

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Today in Movie History: January 18

Once upon a time, a TV cowboy named Clint got handed a script for a low-budget Italian Western that he immediately recognized as a hastily redressed version of Yojimbo. He took the job, for a free trip to Italy (or so he claims), and in the process helped reinvent an entire genre. A Fistful of Dollars opened today in the …

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Today in Movie History: November 9

I note with some irony that the movie everyone was talking about 33 years ago was a truly awful slasher film called Silent Night, Deadly Night: a greasy little piece of exploitation trash that used the gimmick of a killer in a Santa suit to cover up for its lack of anything worthwhile. But while the cinematic world was up in …