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Today in Movie History: June 1

Though it didn’t foster a full-bore revival of the Hollywood musical, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! succeeded in updating the baggy old genre for an entirely new generation. Luhrmann’s trademark attention span deficit and the expert addition of modern pop songs into the mix turned an exercise in empty style into a beloved modern classic, and while I struggle with the film’s abrupt shifts in emotional tone (it’s all a joke or it isn’t guys), it’s hard to dispute the sheer joy of moviemaking that bursts from every shot. It opened today in 2001.

Remakes are common in Hollywood, but far more rare are remakes from the same director. Having already given us a version of The Man Who Knew too Much in 1934, Alfred Hitchcock decided to take it on again twenty years later: making use of technical advances like widescreen and Technicolor, as well as an American family in the lead instead of a British one. Both versions have their charms, but with big stars like Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day headlining this one, it’s by far the most prominent. It opened today in 1956.

Horror movies have always taken especial glee in the monstrous side of birth, but few directors could tap into that anxiety like David Cronenberg. He perfected the notion with efforts like Dead Ringers and The Fly, but first explored in depth with The Brood, which put him on the map… and made it extremely clear that cinema would never be the same again. Oliver Reed plays a scientist, likely of the mad variety, experimenting on an unhinged mother in an effort to cure her of her demons. As you may suspect, wacky mayhem ensures. The Brood opened today in 1979,.

Speaking of remakes, most of us have already forgotten the woeful Total Recall double dip from a couple of years ago. Maybe that’s because the original is so gloriously batshit insane that the very notion of remaking it is an exercise in folly. It opened in 1990 and — for better or worse — helped make Arnold Schwarzenegger the biggest star in the world at that time.

Finally, there’s Star Trek III which broke the unspoken rule that odd-numbered Trek movies all had to stink. Faced with the unenviable task of following up The Wrath of Khan, they turned to Leonard Nimoy himself to deirect. He took the story in a wildly different direction, and though far from perfect, it made us accept and even embrace Mr. Spock’s resurrection as something more than a cheap gimmick. Star Trek III opened today in 1984.

 

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