September is traditionally a dumping ground for bad movies, with the summer season over, the kids back in school and Oscar contenders waiting until later in the fall to kick off their relentless toadying for Academy approval. But we’ve got a few gems in there, and we’ll start with one of the best ever: Rear Window, in which a bored photojournalist (Jimmy Stewart) laid up with a broken leg starts snooping on his neighbors and starts to suspect one of them of murder. The luminous Grace Kelly co-stars as his Gal Friday, and the results stand on the short list of the greatest movies of all time. Rear Window opened today in 1954.
Five decades earlier, another masterpiece appeared at a time when motion pictures were literally nothing more than a gimmick. A Trip to the Moon, Georges Melies’s amalgamation of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and good old-fashioned stage magic, awakened the possibilities of the medium and set the stage for over 100 years of movie miracles to follow. The shot of the rocket in the face of the Man in the Moon is still an indelible icon. It opened today in its native France in 1902.
For those of you watching the Trump presidency with increasingly puckered sphincters, just remember that Mike Judge called it. Idiocracy, the movie that needed to be heard no matter how much 20th Century Fox tried to kill it, gave us a long hard look at the darkest, stupidest part of our souls and shrieked in despair. Today it seems positively prescient, and in our most hopeless moments, we wonder if its future of entitled morons isn’t already here. It opened today in 2006.
Considering the month’s overall vibe, we’re going to close with a bad one. A really bad one. One you may not have seen, but you definitely know about thanks to the awesome mocking power of the Internet. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Wicker Man: the disastrous Nicolas Cage remake that forever forced movie lovers to refer to the exponentially superior 1973 original as “the good one.” Let’s sit back and enjoy the magic, shall we? The Wicker Man opened today in 2006.