Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Film of the Day

Uma Thurman as Venus in Baron Munchausen

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 May Baron Münchhausen born, 1720 On this day in 1720, Hieronymous Carl Friedrich Baron von Münchhausen was born, in Bodenwerder, Hanover. An aristocrat by birth, Münchhausen was employed by Anthony Ulrich II of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, a member of the Habsburg dynasty, and followed him to Russia during the Russo-Turkish War (his employer being married to a Romanov). Münchhausen rose through the ranks, becoming a cornet, lieutenant and finally a captain, before retiring to his estate with his wife. There he would entertain guests with fabulously embroidered tales, particularly of his time fighting the Turks. Münchhausen knew his tales were fantastical, and … Read more
Cagney reprises the grapefruit scene from The Public Enemy in One, Two, Three

One, Two, Three

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 13 August Berlin Wall goes up, 1961 On this day in 1961, Berliners woke up to a Berlin divided by a wall. The capital of Berlin had been partitioned in the aftermath of the Second World War. Like the rest of Germany, but in microcosm, Berlin was parcelled out between the victorious powers – US, UK, USSR and France. However, Berlin was entirely surrounded by Soviet territory, the allies’ parts of Germany being in the west of the country, and the fear amongst Berliners was that all of the city would be swallowed up by the Soviets. Stalin had already tried … Read more
Paul Bettany and Russell Crowe in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 24 November Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species, 1859 On this day in 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (to give it its full title). Building on work by Joseph Hooker, Robert Chambers and others, Darwin rushed into print a book he had been mulling over for two decades, because he knew that the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace had, quite independently, come up with theories remarkably similar to his own. Written for the layman, the book set out Darwin’s observations … Read more
Brendan Gleeson plays Martin Cahill in The General

The General

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 February Art thieves steal Munch’s The Scream, 1994 On this day in 1994, thieves broke into the National Gallery, Oslo, and stole the Edvard Munch painting The Scream. It is actually one of a number of so-named works of art, there being four different Screams in a variety of media, plus a number of lithographic prints struck by Munch himself. The one stolen on the night in question was in tempera on cardboard and was in a less secure part of the gallery – it had been moved as part of celebrations held to mark the opening of the winter … Read more
Edith Evans in The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 25 May Oscar Wilde convicted, 1895 Dead at the age of only 46, with possibly his best years still to come, Oscar Wilde’s life was changed by his conviction for gross indecency with men, on this day in 1895. Wilde had first gone to court after the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover Lord Alfred Douglas, had left his calling card at Wilde’s club, the Albemarle, with the words, “For Oscar Wilde posing somdomite (sic)” written on it. Wilde took this as an attack on his reputation, and sued Queensberry. Queensberry, famous for laying down the rules of modern … Read more
Erich Von Stroheim in La Grande Illusion

La Grande Illusion

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 November First World War ends, 1914 On this day in 1914, hostilities officially ceased on the Western Front (which ran through Belgium, north-eastern France and Alsace-Lorraine – then German, now French), effective 11am. Though the First World War is often described as a victory of the allied powers, officially the result was a draw – the fighting between all concerned was simply called off. Though of course Germany had been beaten and in the Peace of Versailles, the Treaty arranged shortly afterwards, the looseness of this technical distinction became clear – Germany lost territory, its navy, most of its army … Read more
Samuel L Jackson in Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 12 August Cleopatra kills herself, 30BC On this day in 30BC, Cleopatra VII Philopator, last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, killed herself. She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes and at first ruled alongside him, later ruling alongside her brothers Ptolemy XIII and XIV, the latter of whom she married. The Ptolemaic dynasty had its origins in Greece, the original Ptolemy having been one of Alexander the Great’s generals. The Ptolemaic era marked the decline of Greece and the ascent of Rome and one of Cleopatra’s strategic couplings was to have a son with Julius Caesar, who became co-ruler with her … Read more
Natasza Urbanska and Borys Szyc in Battle of Warsaw

Battle of Warsaw

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 17 January Soviet forces liberate/capture Warsaw, 1945 On this day in 1945, the Poles swapped one overlord for another as the Germans were finally flushed out of Warsaw by the Soviet Red Army, which promptly took over. The Poles had been hoping that a government of their own, an anti-communist one which had been beavering away in exile for the duration of the war, would take over. No dice. It was a bitter blow for Poland, which had been a battleground for the Second World War since the day it had started, on 1 September 1939. The Germans had treated Warsaw … Read more
Aksel Hennie and Synnøve Macody Lund in Headhunters

Headhunters

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 26 October Norway becomes independent, 1905 On this day in 1905, Norway became independent from Sweden. An independent country during the Viking and post-Viking era, Norway’s power declined after 1265, with the Black Death and competition from the North European trading and economic union the Hanseatic League forcing it out of its eminent position. In 1380 it was absorbed into a union with Denmark which stayed in place for four centuries (the country was formally dissolved in 1536, then re-established in 1660, though it continued to recognise itself as being Norwegian, and had standalone institutions and laws). Remarkably, this union was … Read more
Martin Strel aka Big River Man

Big River Man

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 November Link Wray dies, 2005 On this day in 2005, one of the legends of rock. Link Wray, born Fred Lincoln Wray Jr in 1929, died. He was most famous for his 1958 instrumental hit Rumble, which added power chords to the blues sound of the overdriven amplifier into the repertoire of rock. If you haven’t heard it, Rumble is an elegant, slow, succession of chords played so slowly they’re almost arpeggio, followed by a chiming run down the top notes, repeated and repeated again. It’s simplicity itself. Relying on mood and riff rather than rhythm and tune, it could … Read more
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator

The Aviator

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 January Howard Hughes sets transcontinental air record, 1937 On this day in 1937 Howard Hughes set a new world record for flying across the continent of America. Flying a H-Racer with extra long wings, he made the journey from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours 28 minutes and 25 seconds. The plane had been commissioned by Hughes himself and was innovative in many respects, not least its insistence on all rivets and joints being set flush, which greatly increased its slipperiness through the air. The record was one of many accolades that this man born into wealth would accrue. … Read more
Giacomo Rizzo and Laura Chiatti in The Family Friend

The Family Friend

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 9 May First recorded appearance of Mr Punch, 1662 On this day in 1662, Navy Board administrator Samuel Pepys went to Covent Garden, London, where he enjoyed “an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw…”. The show was by a Pietro Gimonde from Bologna, and Pepys’s mention of it in his famous diary is the first record we have of Mr Punch. Today, Punch is a glove puppet, but back then he was a string marionette called Puncinello or Pulcinella or Pulliciniello, a character derived from the Italian commedia … Read more

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