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The Movies

Discover the stories behind the films we love, told by the A-list Hollywood stars who made them. From Casablanca to Fight Club, these are the pivotal moments of American cinema through the decades that have influenced our culture.

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    The Eighties - Part One

    M In 1980 The Empire Strikes Back became a huge hit and set the tone for the rest of the decade, with filmmakers like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis setting box-office records with spectacular crowd-pleasers.

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      M In 1980 The Empire Strikes Back became a huge hit and set the tone for the rest of the decade, with filmmakers like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis setting box-office records with spectacular crowd-pleasers.

      M Throughout the 1980s new new voices emerged: Tim Burton, Rob Reiner, Nora Ephron, George Miller, Amy Heckerling and the Coen Brothers. Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise catapulted to superstardom while Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis put a new spin on action movies.

      M The 1990s began with controversial characters who dominated the cultural conversation: Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs, the mafiosos of Goodfellas, and the ladies of Thelma and Louise. Romantic comedies also become popular, featuring stars such as Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts.

      M As the 1990s continued, advancements in digital effects lead to visually spectacular blockbusters such as Jurassic Park, The Matrix and Titanic. Comedy films also attracted large audiences, and new stars including Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler began their film careers.

      M At the turn of the century, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings brought epic sagas to the screen. Musicals made a comeback with Moulin Rouge and Chicago, while kids and adults alike were drawn to animated films like Monsters Inc. and Shrek.

      M James Cameron broke his own box office record when Avatar became the biggest film of all time, in the same year that his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow, made history as the first female director to take home an Oscar. The 2000s also saw the rebirth of the superhero genre, with Christopher Nolan's Batman films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

      M The seventies were considered a second Golden Age for American cinema. The Godfather, The French Connection and The Exorcist were all massive critical and commercial successes. John Travolta became a big star thanks to the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and Grease.

      M By the end of the 1970s, blockbusters began to overtake the New Hollywood, as Jaws, Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind captured the imagination of audiences and set the course for future filmmaking.

      M The 1960s began with West Side Story and Lawrence of Arabia. Stanley Kubrick spanned the decade with Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Psychologically taut stories like The Apartment, Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate showed that Hollywood could also work on a smaller scale.

      M By the end of the 1960s, daring films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate had changed the direction of American cinema. The decade closed with John Wayne winning his only Oscar for True Grit and a movie with an X rating, Midnight Cowboy, winning Best Picture.

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