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Today in Movie History: January 18

Once upon a time, a TV cowboy named Clint got handed a script for a low-budget Italian Western that he immediately recognized as a hastily redressed version of Yojimbo. He took the job, for a free trip to Italy he claims, and in the process helped reinvent an entire genre. A Fistful of Dollars opened today in the U.S. in 1967.

The Coen Brothers have their own take on the American West, no less bloody and equally compelling. They traveled to familiar ground — Texas — for their film debut, Blood Simple, and never looked back. A near-perfect piece of southern-fried noir, it remains on the short list of their very best films… and that’s saying something. It opened today in 1985.

Other, less Clint-tastic movies released today include George Cukor’s 1935 adaptation of David Copperfield — featuring W.C. Fields in one of his most memorable roles as Mr. Micawber — and the Matt Reeves-helmed found-footage giant monster mash-up Cloverfield, released today in 2008.

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