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. 80 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 film in the process.

If you like your musicals a little more ghoulish than the fairest one of all, then Tim Burton and Stephen Sondheim have an answer for you: Sweeney Todd, featuring Johnny Depp as the demon barber of Fleet Street and Helena Bonham Carter as his partner in crime. The film earned a plethora of Oscar nominations and today remains one of the better entries in Burton’s canon. (And if you need to be reminded why we all loved Johnny Depp so much, you could do a lot worse.) It opened 10 years ago today in 2007.

Disney also released a lesser-but-respectable pair of flicks today: The Swiss Family Robinson hit theaters in 1960; and their unfortunate Star Wars rip-off, The Black Hole arrived in 1979. Neither of them is particularly good, but they’ve earned a certain level of affection from Disney-philes.

Other prominent releases include Sergei Eisenstein’s Soviet-era masterpiece Battleship Potemkin, which premiered in 1925; John Frankenheimer’s empty but visually stunning Grand Prix, which opened in 1966; and Amy Heckerling’s guilty-pleasure gangster film parody Johnny Dangerously released in 1984. (I’m still weirded out by how much Keaton looks like Jimmy Cagney in that picture.)

Finally, we’re going to give a shout-out to Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, proud owner of the greatest sequel title of all time, and giving Cannon Pictures the most enduring symbol of its greasy little legacy. It opened just 7 months after the first Breakin’, and it shows… though as a time capsule of the era, it can be a reasonable amount of fun. Booze helps. Lots of booze. The film opened today in 1984.

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