As Billy Wilder comedies go, The Seven Year Itch never packed the punch of, say, Some Like It Hot or The Apartment. It’s amusing enough, but the Hays Code pulled the teeth from the Broadway play on which it was based, about a married man tempted by… well shit, by Marilyn Freaking Monroe. That leaves it minor Wilder at best, save for that iconic moment when Monroe stands above the subway grate. The Seven Year Itch opened today in 1955.
Back in 1983, the whole “personal computer” thing was at best weird and at worst actively frightening. Naturally, Hollywood happily exploited our fears with a series of “the computer is trying to kill you” movies that today seem almost quaint. One of the best of them was John Badham’s WarGames, in which a dippy high school hacker almost starts World War III by tapping into NORAD’s defense system when all he was looking for was a few video games. It doesn’t hold up as a thriller, but as a nostalgic throwback, it’s well made and surprisingly fun. It opened today in 1983.
Four years later, Brian De Palma made a huge mark on 80s cinema with The Untouchables: a sleek, handsome and heavily fictionalized variation on the fall of Al Capone. David Mamet’s script lent the story some hard-boiled grit, and with the likes of Sean Connery and Robert De Niro sinking their teeth into it, it’s no wonder the film was such a success. Among its other accolades, it made stars out of both Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia, as well as scoring Connery a well-deserved Academy Award. The Untouchables opened today in 1987.
Finally, I hold a soft spot in my heart for X-Men: First Class, which was responsible for revitalizing the X-Men franchise and may still be the best of the lot. I grew up reading the X-Men, and it still seems like a minor miracle that these figures actually made it to the big screen. Director Matthew Vaughn cuts to the heart of the story, what it’s supposed to be about and the amazing characters used to convey it. First Class opened today in 2011.