Today in Movie History: March 11

There’s nothing quite like a villain, and nobody could do them like William Shakespeare. I confess I prefer Ian McKellen’s take on his bloodiest king, Richard III, but Laurence Olivier had his own version of it, and it’s well worth a look. It opened today in 1956.

And hey, if scheming kings are your thing, then you get a double dose today. Peter Glenville’s Becket opened today in 1964, featuring Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Richard Burton as the close friend who decided that God’s commands outweighed his king’s.

We’ll stretch back a lot earlier for the next one. Warner Bros helped launch the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals with 42nd Street, based on a popular Broadway play and featuring choreography form Busby Berkeley that helped set the standard for generations to come. It opened today in 1933.

Finally, before he changed movies forever with Star Wars  — and then earned the title Devourer of Childhoods with the prequels — George Lucas put himself on the map with the brilliant Orwellian fable THX-1138, which opened today in 1971. Among its other joys is seeing the first seeds of the themes that would blossom more fully in that galaxy far, far away.



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