Laurence Olivier

Clash of the Titans 1981

It’s no secret that I’m old. I’m so old, in fact, that I saw all the Star Wars movies, the entire summer of ‘82 and ’84, plus the original Clash of the Titans, RoboCop, and Total Recall in the theaters when they were released. No HBO needed for me to see a lot of these classics for the first time. The original Clash of the Titans is of particular note because, aside from some terrible Italian Steve Reeves movies and Jason and the Argonauts, it was the go-to film for the Enlgish teachers of my era to show us when studying Greek Mythology. Trust me, it made for a nice diversion from reading Edith Hamilton’s famous book about the subject. When I studied Greek Mythology in high school, our teacher showed us Clash of the Titans, which led to the inevitable questions of how this all fit together. How had we not heard of the badass that was Calibos? Did Perseus really fight the Kraken? Where the Hades did Bubo come from anyway? And that got me thinking again: how much of Clash of the Titans was accurate to Greek myths?

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Stanley Kubrick’s foray into the sand and sandals epic of Spartacus alongside blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo and iconic actor Kirk Douglas taught everyone a lot of lessons. It taught Kubrick to always get full control over the script. It taught Kirk Douglas that you could get actors on board by showing them different scripts where more emphasis was placed on their character. It taught an audience what it means to stand up in the heat of the sun, starving to death, to proclaim that you were Spartacus.

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Criterion Files

Every week in October, Criterion Files will be bringing you a horror movie from the archives of classic cinema or the hallways of the arthouse. This week’s entry takes a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood debut, Rebecca (1940). While some would argue (and by “some” I mean Cole Abaius) that Hitchcock only made two films that could uncontestably be identified as horror – Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963) – Rebecca is an interesting point of inception for themes covered throughout the auteur’s American career and is a film that engages in literary forms of the horror genre. Especially when seen as a ghost story.

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