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2021 Film Anniversary Retrospectives: October

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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 five 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 October . . .

 

The Maltese Falcon

This film noir classic celebrates its 80th anniversary (released in 1941). The film was written and directed by John Huston and starred Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, and Lee Patrick. The IMDB plot synopsis states: “A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.”

The Maltese Falcon is considered by most film fans to be one of the greatest films ever made. The film made over $1.7 million worldwide in an era where that was not commonplace. Rotten Tomatoes has it rated at 100% with their critic consensus reading: “Suspenseful, labyrinthine, and brilliantly cast, The Maltese Falcon is one of the most influential noirs—as well as a showcase for Humphrey Bogart at his finest.” It would also be nominated for three Academy Awards and added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1989. Warner Bros. had plans for a sequel, The Further Adventures of the Maltese Falcon, but it never materialized.


 

The Ghost & the Darkness

This 1996 adventure thriller was written by William Goldman, directed by Stephen Hopkins, and starred Michael Douglas, Val Kilmer, Tom Wilkinson, and John Kani. The film is an adaptation of the novel The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson. The IMDB plot synopsis states: “A bridge engineer and an experienced old hunter begin a hunt for two lions after they start attacking local construction workers.”

The film underwent a tumultuous shoot in Kenya and the film’s box office and critical reception would endure a similar fate. After only making just over $10 million in its opening weekend, it ended its run making $75 million worldwide. The Ghost and the Darkness sits at a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with their critic consensus reading: “The Ghost and the Darkness hits its target as a suspenseful adventure, but it falls into a trap of its own making whenever it reaches for supernatural profundity.” However, the film did win an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.


 

The Departed

This star-studded Martin Scorsese film debuted in 2006 (celebrating its 15th anniversary). Written by William Monahan, the cast featured Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg. The IMDB plot synopsis states: “An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.”

The film became a big success, racking in $291.5 million from a $90 million budget. The Departed also holds a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with their critic consensus reading: “Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we come to expect from Martin Scorsese.” The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay Writing. Mark Wahlberg was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The film is heralded as one of the best films of the 2000s.


The Prestige

This historical drama thriller is considered one of the most underrated Christopher Nolan films (also released in 2006). The Prestige was directed by Christopher Nolan, written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, and starred Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Michael Caine. It was adapted from a novel of the same name by Christopher Priest. The IMDB plot synopsis states: “After a tragic accident, two stage magicians in 1890s London engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outwit each other.”

The film made $109 million worldwide from a $40 million budget. It also sports a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with their critic consensus reading: “Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is a dazzling period piece that never stops challenging the audience.” The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography.


Verdict

Considered a spookier month due to Halloween, October did not fail to disappoint in delivering some darker films. This list finds three highly regarded films and a controversial one as well. The nice part is that each film is dark in its own way, touching on old-school film noir, an international thriller, FBI and mob themes, and a historical rivalry to the death. If you like dark films, this month’s anniversary list is filled with films made for you.

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