The period after Thanksgiving is typically a dead zone for new releases, since the long weekend makes the ideal time to open a new movie and any studio hoping for decent box office will either launch that Wednesday or wait a week or two. Today starts the climb back, with a pair of interesting releases from two very different eras.
The first, Misery, is not only a pretty darn good film, but the confluence of talent involved never ceases to amaze. Rob Reiner — a director known mainly for comedy — adapted a non-horror book written by Designated Master of Horror Stephen King, which King originally intended to pen under a pseudonym. And yet it turned out to be one of the better King adaptations put to screen. The cherry on the sundae was a then-unknown character actor named Kathy Bates who not only went on to become a big star, but rightfully claimed the Best Actress Oscar for her turn here over a heavily favored Julia Roberts. (The great work of her co-star James Caan is often forgotten in the hubbub, and she couldn’t have done so much without a brilliant onscreen partner to play off of.) Misery opened today in 1990.
45 years earlier, a low-budget bit of film noir turned into a minor classic and helped cement the genre’s dark heart just as the world was emerging from the horrors of World War II. It was called Detour, and it involved yet another hapless everyman (Tom Neal) caught up in a confluence of human evil and capricious fate after a single bad decision. Detour opened today in 1945.