20 years ago Today in Movie History – February 18 – Ben Stiller made his directorial debut with the now Gen X classic Reality Bites. The romantic comedy/drama starring Winona Ryder helped establish not only Stiller, but also Ethan Hawke and Janeane Garafalo as rising stars. Its soundtrack was also a hit and include the single “Stay” by Lisa Loeb. Stiller could onto direct The Cable Guy, Zoolander, Tropic Thunder, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
As for birthdays – John Travolta is 60 today. After becoming known to TV viewers from “Welcome Back, Kotter”, he very successfully transitioned into film with late 70s megahits Saturday Night Fever and Grease and Urban Cowboy in 1980. After some lean years in which only his Look Who’s Talking flicks did well, he had one of the most notable comebacks in film history with 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Since then he’s starred in numerous commercial and critical hits including Get Shorty, Broken Arrow, Phenomenon, Michael, Face/Off, Primary Colors, and Swordfish. He’s had some flops too – particularly the disastrous Battlefield Earth.
Matt Dillon is 50 today. He broke out in the early 80s in such pictures as My Bodyguard, Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, and The Flamingo Kid. He had a major critical hit in Gus Van Sant’s 1989 indie pic Drugstore Cowboy and a big comedic breakout in the smash There’s Something About Mary. Other notable movies include Singles, To Die For, Beautiful Girls, Wild Things, and Crash.
As for Six Degrees of Separation between them:
John Travolta was in Get Shorty with Gene Hackman
Gene Hackman was in Target with Matt Dillon
And that’s today – February 18 – in Movie History!