Gaston

Movies for the Resistance: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

(Welcome to Movies for the Resistance, a weekly column intended to showcase films with particular pertinence for 2017. One of the fundamental purposes of art in general, and movies in particular, is to serve as a spiritual armory: bringing hope, timely lessons and shared experiences when times are dark. They can move us to positive political action, lend insight to …

010-john-wayne

Today in Movie History: February 15

Stagecoach is one of those movies whose influence kind of creeps up on you. Not only did it cement a number of Western conventions that later went on to become clichés (Monument Valley settings, cavalry arriving at the last minute, etc.), but it made a star out of John Wayne and turned director John Ford into Hollywood legend. It also featured …

In-The-Mouth-Of-Madness-1994

Today in Movie History: February 3

The later career of John Carpenter was marked by a gradual fall from the form that made him a legend in genre filmmaking. He put that fall on hold for one glorious moment when his last truly great movie — In The Mouth of Madness — opened today in 1995. Sam Neill plays a cynical private investigator hired to find a missing horror …

Snow White

Today in Movie History: December 21

There’s no question which movie tops our charts today: Walt Disney premiered Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on this date in 1937, and transformed the entire animation field as a result. 78 years later, it’s still the greatest cartoon of all time: a stunning triumph in every sense of the word, cementing Disney’s fortunes and single-handedly creating the animated feature …

planes-trains-automobiles-martin-candy-fire

Today in Movie History: November 25

We’ll begin Black Friday with a winner for the holiday weekend: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, director John Hughes’ foray into “grown-up” comedy after cutting his teeth on the likes of Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s a marvelous bit of slapstick, thanks mostly to the comic chemistry between Steve Martin and the late John Candy as a pair of businessmen trying …

annex%20-%20marx%20brothers%20duck%20soup_nrfpt_04

Today in Movie History: November 17

We’re starting with something from the “everything old is new again” file. The Marx Brothers had their share of comedy classics, but many consider their greatest work to be Duck Soup. It highlights the absurdity of authoritarian governments, with the boys’ rollicking chaos presented as a counterpoint to the methodical, planned chaos created by despotic regimes. Can’t imagine why that might …

video-henry-v-st-crispins-day-speech-superjumbo

Today in Movie History: November 8

It’s a big day in more ways than one, so let’s get to it. For 45 years, Shakespeare’s Henry V belonged firmly to Laurence Olivier, whose 1944 version was considered definitive. Intended to rally the British nation during World War II, it offered a fairy-tale atmosphere of inevitable victory and proved so potent that no one dared make another version of …

Sissy Specek as Carrie

Today in Movie History: November 3

Stephen King understands bullies as few others before him, which is one of the reasons why his terror tales hold so much power. His first novel, Carrie — inspired by experiences in high school — taps into the fear, alienation and rage of being the constant target of abuse, and in the hands of director Brian De Palma, it became one of …

west-side-story-di-3-1

Today in Movie History: October 18

Musicals don’t come any better than West Side Story, a brilliant re-imagining of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that freed the genre from the opulent event pictures that had dominated it in the 1950s. Robert Wise kept a steady hand on the tiller during a deeply troubled production — co-director Jerome Robbins suffered a breakdown midway through, though his stunning choreography remains …

the-ten-commandments

Today in Movie History: October 5

You’d think they’d release a movie like The Ten Commandments closer to Passover, when it might be more pertinent. But back in the 1950s, release dates worked differently, and films often had months or even years to play in theaters before moving on (and frankly, with the exception of network television, there was nowhere else to move on to). Hence, …