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Today in Movie History: March 18

Funniest movie of all time or high point of western civilization? We’ll leave that debate for the ages, but one thing is clear: if you want comedy, you can’t do better than Mel Brooks’ The Producers, which opened today in 1968.

If you prefer kick-ass cowboys to dancing Hitlers, there’s Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Ricky Nelson and Dean Martin. Intended as a counterpoint to the equally brilliant High Noon, it stands as an undisputed high point for all concerned (and that’s saying something), as well as ranking among the greatest Westerns ever made. All we needed was the Duke crooning alongside Nelson and Martin (who get a couple of swell songs along with the gunslinging) for perfection to be achieved. It opened today in 1959.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s The Thief of Baghdad:the original Douglas Fairbanks silent picture that stands alongside Metropolis as one of the founts of genre filmmaking. Fairbanks is astonishing as the title hero and the retro special effects hold a timeless charm that today’s CGI cannot hope to match. It opened today in 1924 and lovers of fantasy owe it a whole heck of a lot.

 

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