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Today in Movie History: January 21

Having spent ten years making a respectable living by getting shot dead by James Cagney at the end of the picture, Humphrey Bogart was ready for leading man status when he starred as a crook on the run in High Sierra, released today in 1941. He followed it up in October of that year with The Maltese Falcon and his days of playing one-note gangsters were gone forever.

Further down on the crime-movie ladder sits Niagara, a fair-to-middling little potboiler notable mainly for starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton. (One guess who plays the femme fatale.) It opened today in 1953.

If you need a live-action Disney fix, there’s the original Freak Friday — released today in 1977 — in which a teenage Jodie Foster magically changes bodies with her mother Barbara Harris. It’s notable for producing some agreeably wacky mayhem, but also for inspiring a remake in 2003 that — contrary to most remakes — found some agreeably wacky mayhem of its own.

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