Today in Movie History: May 4

We’re sticking with Marvel today because… well because one of the biggest superhero movies of all time opened today. 2012’s The Avengers turned an already successful franchise — three franchises technically — into something entirely new. Not since the Universal horror cycle in the 1940s had we seen anything quite like it, and Universal couldn’t dream of accomplishing something on the scale that director Joss Whedon accomplished. The MCU wouldn’t be the force it is without this hurricane changing the landscape forever.

68¬†years previous, we find Gaslight, George Cukor’s unbearable suspense masterpiece about a woman whose husband is trying to drive her mad. The term “gaslighting” stems from the film, and watching Charles Boyer — an actor known largely for his suave lover roles at the time — torture Ingrid Bergman in the most insidious manner possible still holds a powerful punch. (It also earned Bergman one of her three Academy Awards.) Gaslight opened today in 1944.

Finally, the third spot on the podium belongs to Sixteen Candles, which helped define high school pictures for a generation and launched the career of teen movie guru John Hughes. His formula was simple: understand that, when you’re in high school, forgetting your birthday feels like the end of the world, and mine humor from a sympathetic place instead of telling those crazy kids to grow up and look at the big picture. Sixteen Candles opened today in 1984.


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