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, …

animal-house

Today in Movie History: July 28

Three big movies today, and I’m choosing to start with Animal House, the seminal frat-house comedy that unleashed a torrent of raunchy imitators, none of which had one-tenth of its iconoclasm, wit or gut-busting ability to make us laugh over and over again. Its credentials are unimpeachable, from director John Landis to writers Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman to a fantastic ensemble …

muppet_1.2_758_426_81_s_c1

Today in Movie History: June 22

It’s a close call for the top spot today — there’s some big ones — but we’re going to go with Kermit and the gang making their feature film debut with  The Muppet Movie. The irreplaceable Jim Henson turned directing duties over to James Frawley, but the former’s fingerprints are all over it, bolstered by brilliant songs from Paul Williams …

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 …

batman-begins-2005-62-g

Today in Movie History: June 15

It’s a big day today, and we’ll start with the most recent. Amid all the hubbub over 2008’s The Dark Knight, it’s easy to forget just what an amazing job its predecessor, Batman Begins, did after Tim Burton’s singular-but-flawed vision and the depressing crassness of the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Bat-fans were hungry for the kind of lean, grounded tale that Christopher Nolan …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Mary Poppins

Today in Movie History: August 26

The House of Mouse has enjoyed its share of triumphs over the years, but only a scant handful can compare to Mary Poppins, the live-action/animation mash-up that won Julie Andrews an Oscar, let penguin waiters upstage Dick Van Dyke, and sent dictionary editors scrambling to justify the formal addition of “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” to the language. It opened today in 1964; long may …