Today in Movie History: September 18

You wanna get nuts? Today’s got the hook-up. We’ll start with Fatal Attraction, Adrian Lyne’s lightning rod of gender politics that saw Michael Douglas’s loving family man stalked and threatened by the woman he slept around with (Glenn Close). The film scored not only as a sharp (if slightly overheated) thriller, but for its surprisingly sympathetic approach towards a character ostensibly pegged as the villainness. Close deserved the Oscar for her iconic performance, and while it might be the worst date movie ever, it definitely carries plenty of discussion fodder for those so inclined. It opened today in 1987.

For a equally overheated look at gender politics, there’s always A Streetcar Named Desire: the celebrated Tennessee Williams play given immortal life by director Elia Kazan. Kazan’s off-screen politics notwithstanding (we saw what you did Snitchy), it’s an impressive piece of work: capturing the Southern Gothic sensuality of Williams’ play and turning Marlon Brando into a international sex symbol overnight. It opened today in 1951.

On the other end of the quality scale sits Mommie Dearest, an adaptation of Christine Crawford’s tell-all expose about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her famous mother Joan. The lurid soap-opera quality of the material was always going to be a part of it, but not the uniquely awful results: single-handedly destroying the career of star Faye Dunaway and creating an instant camp classic that ensured no one would ever forget it. It opened today in 1981, and we’re pretty sure no wire hangers were involved.

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