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2021 Film Anniversary Retrospectives: July

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In this retrospective series, I will be honoring the history of film by posting a monthly Reel Anarchy article detailing up to four films from the past that are celebrating an anniversary. I try to pick films that are at least 10-years old, but the emphasis is on films that are at least 20-years old. You might see some high-profile classics show up, but you might see some more obscure picks as well.

This year’s films celebrating an anniversary in the month of July . . .

 

The Fox and the Hound

This 1981 Disney animated film is considered one of the more underrated entries in the Disney animated catalogue.

The Fox and the Hound is based on the 1967 novel of the same name by Daniel P. Maddix. The film is directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, and Art Stevens and stars Mickey Rooney, Kurt Russell, and Pearl Bailey. Here is the IMDB plot synopsis: “A little fox named Tod, and Copper, a hound puppy, vow to be best buddies forever. But as Copper grows into a hunting dog, their unlikely friendship faces the ultimate test.”

The film would mark a transition within Disney as many new faces would work on the project. The remaining members of “Disney’s Nine Old Men” – the legendary original animators that worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 all the way to The Rescuers in 1977 – would retire after involvement in the early development stages of The Fox and the Hound. It would be a career-launching pad for a trio of young animators fresh out of the California Institute of the Arts: Tim Burton, Brad Bird, and John Lasseter.

The Fox and the Hound received mostly positive reviews, albeit even the positive reviews claimed the film did not feature groundbreaking material. Even though it was the most expensive animated film in history at that point costing $12 million, it went on to make $39.9 million domestic at the box office – breaking the record for the highest animated grossing film at the time. In 1988, it was re-released in theaters and made another $23.5 million.

 

Aliens

This 1986 sci-fi thriller showed the world the sequels can rival the quality of the original.

James Cameron is credited with writing the screenplay and directing the film. Sigourney Weaver is the protagonist of the film, while Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reisner, Lance Henrikson, Bill Paxton, and Jenette Goldstein had supporting roles. Here is the IMDB plot synopsis: “Fifty-seven years after surviving an apocalyptic attack aboard her space vessel by merciless space creatures, Officer Ripley awakens from hyper-sleep and tries to warn anyone who will listen about the predators.”

Despite issues with lagging pre-production and some friction during production, the film became a big hit for Cameron, Weaver, and 20th Century Fox. It scored well with most critics and wound up making $85.1 million domestically (and an estimated $157 million worldwide), ranking among the top films of the year.

Aliens won two Oscars: one awarded to Don Sharpe for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing and the other awarded to Robert Skotak, Stan Winston, John Richardson, and Suzanne B. Benson for Best Effects, Visual Effects. The film would also be nominated for five more Oscars, including Signourney Weaver for Best Actress in a Leading Role and James Horner for Best Music, Original Score.

 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

1991 saw another long-in-development James Cameron-helmed sequel that rivaled its predecessor.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is directed and produced by James Cameron, with Cameron and William Wisher co-writing the screenplay. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, and Joe Morton. Here is the IMDB plot synopsis: “A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her ten-year old son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.”

Despite being the most expensive film ever made at the time (around $100 million), it became the highest grossing film of 1991, making $520 million worldwide. It also became the biggest movie of Schwarzenegger’s career to that point as well. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards and won four of them (Best Sound, Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects, and Best Makeup).

Numerous sequels have since been made, but none of them compare to T2.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

This swashbuckling 2006 film sequel proved the staying power of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

The film is directed by Gore Verbinski, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, written by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott, and stars Johnny Depp, Kiera Knightley, and Orlando Bloom. Here is the IMDB plot synopsis: “Jack Sparrow races to recover the heart of Davy Jones to avoid enslaving his soul to Jones’ service, as other friends and foes seek the heart for their own agenda as well.”

It is worth noting that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest received mediocre reviews, claiming the film to be a downgrade in quality compared to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Having said that, the film dominated at the box office. It was the fastest film to ever surpass $1 billion (63 days) at the time and became the highest grossing movie of the year. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning the award for Best Visual Effects. The score composed by Hans Zimmer has also become one of the most popular of his career.

Verdict:

This is clearly the month of sequels celebrating anniversaries, as three of the four selections were sequels. The crazy part is that two of them are considered better than the original film. It should not come as a big surprise that July would be a heavy hitting month considering it is traditionally right in the middle of primetime summer blockbuster season. I had to include Fox and the Hound just for the sake of it being underrated and often forgotten about. All in all, it was a pretty good month for films celebrating anniversaries.

What did you think of my list? Have you seen any of these films? Are there any I should have included instead? Make sure to let us know. Thanks for reading!

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