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 …

DumboFlying1

Today in Movie History: October 23

We’re normally inclined to start with horror movies this time of year and we have a couple of tasty grindhouse numbers to close things out. But neither of them hold the enduring power of Dumbo, one of Walt Disney’s most beloved creations. Along with Snow White, it was the only one of Disney’s early features to turn a profit, and while …

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, …

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 …

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 …