Today in Movie History: December 4

Grumble… grumble… On Golden Pond… snarky comment… turgid Oscar bait… accolades it didn’t earn… dated more badly than bell bottoms…  FINE, I’LL LEAD WITH IT. It opened today in 1981.

Frankly, I would have rather started with Young Sherlock Holmes, a handsome bit of 80s popcorn from Barry Levinson detailing the early adventures of the ubiquitous detective (well played by Nicholas Rowe) and his companions. It’s a terrific movie… that unfortunately never caught on the way it deserved to. Gen Xers tend to dig it, however, and for those who haven’t caught it yet, it’s well worth a look. (Also, its stand-out effects sequence — involving a stained glass window — is one of the first uses of CG effects in the movies.) It opened today in 1985.

We’ll close with Psycho… no, not the immortal Alfred Hitchcock original, but the misbegotten Gus Van Sant remake. Van Sant set out to recreate the original film shot for shot, making it an interesting experiment. As a film, however, it’s a miserable failure: starting with the dreadful miscasting of Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche in the leads (though once you get past them, the casting is largely spot on) and continuing with their few points where Van Sant gilds the lily for unknown reasons (the sound of Norman masturbating as he watches Marion through the peephole is a prime example). As the late Roger Ebert said, it’s a textbook case of playing the notes without hearing the music: interesting as a study tool but all but useless in every other way. It opened today in 1998.



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