HISTORY OF CINEMA BY SABLE

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    August 5, 1955
    CARMEN MIRANDA DIES[​IMG]
    On this day in 1955, Carmen Miranda passed away of a heart attack at the age of just 46. An actress and singer whose onscreen image was vivacious and happy, the latter stages of her life were in stark contrast to what the public saw on the screen. Though the Portuguese-born, Brazilian-raised star had enjoyed instant success once she moved to the United States, back home in Brazil she was maligned for having become “Americanized.” Her incredible success in Hollywood brought her fame and money – it is claimed that she was the highest paid woman in America in the 1940s - however she became stuck playing the singer with the big smile, lots of jewelry and a headdress made of bananas. She bought out of her contract with Twentieth Century-Fox in 1945, but had less success subsequently while her marriage to abusive producer David Sebastian and her dependence on pills further cast a shadow over the later years of her life. In his essay for Bright Lights Film Journal, Gary Morris says of Miranda, “A key part of her legend was fixed during her first success here in headlines reading, "Carmen Miranda Conquers America." But, as so often happens with the absorption of the "exotic" — i.e., ethnic — by American culture, it was the other way around. Carmen's luminous, upbeat personality was smashed under the mask. Hollywood twisted her unique personal style, her sense of humor, and her dazzling use of black styles into grim, gaudy excess and then discarded her.”
     
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    August 21, 1939
    ORSON WELLES SIGNS WITH RKO[​IMG]
    On this day in 1939, the Mercury Theatre's wonderboy, Orson Welles, signed a contract with RKO Pictures to write, direct, produce and act in two movies for the studio. Welles was a hot property after masterminding a production ofJulius Caesar set in contemporary fascist Italy and throwing the entire nation into panic with his legendary War of the Worlds broadcast, which had radio listeners believing they were under Martian attack. Though Welles had previously turned down a contract offer from David O. Selznick, he could not say no to RKO president George Schaefer when he offered him the chance to make two movies – with complete creative control, something quite unprecedented by 24-year-old with no movie experience whatsoever. Commenting on the deal, the New York Times wrote, “Every one of the thousands of actors who have passed through Hollywood during the last quarter-century has striven to get the same kind of a deal but no one else has succeeded.” Welles, along with many of his Mercury colleagues (Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorhead et al), decamped to Hollywood in July 1939, but it was not until the following month that terms were agreed and, on August 21, the cinematic genius-in-waiting signed his name on the hefty sixty-three-page document. Welles' plan for his first movie was to make an audacious adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness with a subjective camera, however the exorbitant budget made RKO balk, and by December of 1939 that idea had been shelved. When his second idea, a screen version of Cecil Day-Lewis' novel The Smiler with the Knife in which he envisioned Lucille Ball playing the dramatic lead, was also nixed, Welles hatched a plan for the fictional biopic of a newspaper tycoon, a movie that was clandestinely titled RKO 281 during production, but is now known as Citizen Kane


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    August 22, 1990
    PUMP UP THE VOLUME RELEASED[​IMG]

    On this day in 1990, a rousing cinematic anthem to unlikely teenage rebellion hit theaters Stateside. Not only was the hero of Pump Up the Volume somewhat unlikely, but the fact that the movie was being made at all was also surprising, as its director, Allan Moyle, had retired from directing 10 years previously. Moyle's experiences with Times Square (1980) – a punk rock teen film from which he was fired, and then was re-edited – made him fall out of love with helming, but when he wrote Pump Up the Volume, about a shy adolescent whose raw, edgy pirate radio broadcasts make him (or rather his alter ego, Hard Harry) a cult figure among his high school peers, he was cajoled into once again going behind the camera. His condition for taking the job was that a suitable actor was found for the movie's protagonist, a character described as equal parts Holden Caulfield and Lenny Bruce. The young actor who had the requisite sensitivity and fiery charisma was Christian Slater, who convincingly pulled off being both a shy nerd and an angry subversive. Writing in Movieline, F.X. Feeney said of the film, “Slater makes Mark exhilarating to listen to. The fusion of character and image is so artful that Moyle (with the indispensable aid of cameraman Walt Lloyd) actually makes you forget you're watching a talking head in a room during the broadcast monologues... But the strength of Pump Up the Volume lies in the spirited pirate DJ character Allan Moyle has created. Hard Harry's monologues go far beyond what your typical high school kid of today could probably articulate. In Slater's hands, however, they end up sounding perfectly natural, and ringing true. That's what makes the film appealing not just to teens, but to anyone who can remember those years.”
     
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    August 23, 1938
    YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU PREMIERES[​IMG]

    Frank Capra's remarkable run of smart, successful 1930s comedies continued with You Can't Take It With You, which had its premiere on this day in 1938. The movie was an adaptation of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's hit play of the same name, which was still in its initial run at the Booth Theatre in New York City when Capra's screen version was released, an impressive two years-plus after its debut performance on Broadway. A lively comedy about a love affair between a spoiled millionaire banker's son, Tony Kirby, and Alice Sycamore, a girl from a family whose house is full of oddball types who have left the rat race in order to follow their (often whimsical) dreams, the play was surprisingly provocative in its politics – many of the characters in the Sycamore residence could be described as anarchists or communists, with the patriarch Martin Vanderhof famously speaking out against paying taxes. Capra saw the Pulitzer Prize-winning play when his filmLost Horizon premiered in NYC in 1937, and although Columbia president Harry Cohn balked at the price of $200,000 he would have to pay for the screen rights, he agreed to stump up the cash – on the condition that Capra dropped a lawsuit against him for having falsely promoting the 1935 Jean Arthur vehicle If You Could Only Cook as a Capra movie. Capra assembled a great cast – Jean Arthur and James Stewart as the lovebirds, Lionel Barrymore as Martin Vanderhof, with Edward Arnold, Mischa Auer, Spring Byington, Ann Miller, Donald Meek and H.B. Warner in support – while Capra's regular screenwriter Robert Riskin turned in a sterling script. And though Cohn set up the film for Capra with gritted teeth, it all panned out in the end: You Can't Take It With You received excellent reviews, won Best Picture and Best Director at the 1938 Academy Awards, and earned over $5 million worldwide. The movie also marked the beginning of the fruitful partnership between Capra and Stewart that would continue with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life(1946).
     
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    August 24, 1945
    PRIDE OF THE MARINES RELEASED[​IMG]

    A little more than a week after the Japanese surrendered in World War II, Delmer Daves’ powerful war drama Pride of the Marines rolled into theaters. Based on Roger Butterfield’s book Al Schmid, Marine, the movie Pride of the Marines tells real-life tale of Sgt. Schmid, who was awarded the Navy Cross for holding back over 200 Japanese in Guadalcanal and losing his eyesight in the bargain. But rather than simply being a gung-ho yarn of patriotic gore, Pride tells a more personal tale about a young man (played by John Garfield) with plans to marry being carried off to war. In the film, the courage he summons up to defend his machine gun nest against the encroaching Japanese army pales in comparison with the ordeal he faces back home, trying to reconnect to his old life, and especially with his fiancée (played by Eleanor Parker). In some ways, the film’s working title,This Love of Ours, more accurately captured the film’s pathos than the jingoistic cry of Pride of the Marines. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther recognized the bravery that would be needed by disabled service men returning home when he wrote: “To say that this picture is entertaining to a truly surprising degree is an inadequate recommendation. It is inspiring and eloquent of a quality of human courage that millions must try to generate today.” The power of the story was recognized the next year when writer Albert Maltz was nominated for “Best Writing, Screenplay” at the Academy Awards. Yet despite such accolades, two years later Maltz was called up by the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist tendencies, and lines from his Pride of the Marines script were read to the committee as proof of communist propaganda. Maltz become part of the famed Hollywood Ten and was subsequently blacklisted.
     
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    Sept 3, 1993
    BOXING HELENA RELEASED upload_2016-9-3_20-6-22.jpeg

    23 years ago today, Jennifer Lynch's infamous directorial debut, Boxing Helena, was released, thus finally ending the torrid progression from script to screen. Lynch, the daughter of eccentric genius David Lynch, had first cooked up the idea for the movie in 1990 with producer Philippe Caland: a jealous surgeon keeps a woman he had a fling with from leaving him by amputating first her legs, and then her arms, after he rescues her from a car crash. The film had obvious shock appeal and chimed with the ever-provocative Madonna's sensibilities, however she dropped out of the project in late 1990 – apparently because Andrew Lloyd Webber said she couldn't be his Evita if she did it. She was replaced a few months later by Kim Basinger – then riding high as a sex symbol following her role inBatman – but she too reneged on her agreement to appear in the film. Lynch tried to be philosophical, saying that neither actress could “complete the process of making the picture because they hadn't done enough investigating of the little girls inside themselves. ...perhaps they had not anticipated how difficult making this movie would be.'' However, another of the film's producer's, Main Line Pictures president Carl Mazzocone, sued Basinger, as he had lost his house and car as a result of the financial impact of her dropping out of the film. Sherilyn Fenn – Audrey Horne in Lynch Père's Twin Peaks – stepped in, and the film was shot with her playing opposite Julian Sands. Boxing Helena premiered at Sundance in early 1993, and took a critical mauling that continued on its September release, and culminated in Lynch receiving Worst Director at the Razzies. Then only 25, she withdrew from filmmaking only to return to the with Surveillance, which played in a late night slot at the Cannes Film Festival.
     
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    September 4, 1954
    DRAGNET OPENS[​IMG]

    First appearing as a radio show in 1949, then a television drama in 1951, the police procedural Dragnet hit the big screen in 1954 when Warner Brothers contracted creator and star Jack Webb and his production company Mark VII Limited to put together a feature length film of the show. While many feared that the film would simply be a padded episode, Webb promised a real movie. The feature version ofDragnet, shot in a record 24 days, however, took its cues from TV, rather than film, production in its quick shooting and editing style. And while Warner Brothers pushed to make the film CinemaScope and Technicolor, Webb put his foot down. He was OK with color, but said of CinemaScope: “Normal size is plenty big enough for men, and besides, how do you fill up the sides of that long narrow ribbon of film?” In the end, the movie retained much from the television show. As seen on TV, the film’s plot laid out the crime and its culprits first and then followed the detectives as they attempt to piece together the facts for the rest of the story. Likewise the film, like the show, incorporated the names of actual products and locales to create a veneer of reality. And finally there was the curt, deadpan persona of Webb’s signature creation, Sergeant Joe Friday, along with his trademark phrasings, like “the facts, ma’am.” While television audiences, who kept the show high in the ratings week after week, loved the no-nonsense police officer, Friday was not everyone’s cup of tea. In the New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote, “Just what it is this one crime thriller has that has caused it to be the darling of television chair-sleuths comes through but faintly on the wide screen. Joe Friday, in color and in a large dose, seems a pretty insufferable Joe.” But the biggest thing the film brought from its television roots was its audience. A financial hit, Dragnet paved the way for any and all sorts of cross-media tie-ins and adaptations in the future.
     
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    MY PLEASURE WILLOW..............................GLAD YOU LIKE THIS[smilie=be mine!.gif]
     
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    September 9, 1980
    THE THIRD GENERATION OPENS[​IMG]

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s terrorist comedy The Third Generation exploded when it opened in New York City in September 1980. In the New York Times, Vincent Canby raved, “There no longer can be any doubt about it: Rainer Werner Fassbinder is the most dazzling, talented, provocative, original, puzzling, prolific and exhilarating film maker of his generation. Anywhere.” Following on the heels of his international success The Marriage of Maria Braun, The Third Generation mock-heroically takes on the problem of domestic terrorism in Germany. Fassbinder explained the title’s relation to contemporary Germany politics in the following way: “The first generation was that of '68. Idealists, who wanted to change the world and imagined they could do that with words and demonstrations. The second, the Baader-Meinhof Group, went from legality to armed struggle and total illegality. The third's the generation of today, which simply acts without thinking, which has neither a policy nor an ideology and which, certainly without realizing it, lets itself by manipulated by others, like a bunch of puppets." Indeed in the film, a right-wing security company finances leftist terrorist cells in order to get the government to tighten its authority––as well as buy their security systems. Fassbinder labeled it “a comedy, because the terrorists behave like politicians. They actually work for the system in order to confirm the existing order and make it final." The German left, however, didn’t find anything funny about his at all. In Hamburg, the crowd stormed the theater and attacked the projectionist, and elsewhere radicals threw acid on the screen.
     
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    September 10, 1945
    THE HOUSE OF ON 92ND STREET OPENS[​IMG]

    Opening just a month after the Japanese surrender in 1945, Henry Hathaway’s neo-documentary spy thriller The House on 92nd Street proved a surprise box office hit. As Thomas M. Pryor noted in his positive review for the New York Times, the filmmakers “have a most successful blending of the documentary and conventional techniques, thus proving that realism can be entertaining, too.” Based loosely on the actual case of the Duquesne Spy Ring, a 1941 FBI case that ended up being the largest espionage case in U.S. history,The House on 92nd Street recounts the uncovering of a network of spies bent on stealing the fictional “Process 97.” (After the bombing of Hiroshima, the filmmakers included a voiceover that identified the mysterious substance as “crucial to the development of the atomic bomb.") While the film dealt fictionally with a real event, it was the film’s use of realism and documentary style that set it apart. In 1943, Fox chief Darryl Zanuck tapped Louis de Rochemont, the creator of the “March of Time” newsreels, to develop a series of feature films, with House being the first one. Producer de Rochemont worked with his director Henry Hathaway to incorporate a range of documentary tools––the use of actual FBI surveillance footage, casting of real FBI agents, shooting real locales and actual location––as much as possible. Indeed the FBI was closely involved with the film’s production, as J. Edgar Hoover has a cameo in the film, and the New York Times reported several days after the film opened that “one of Mr. Hoover's three principal assistants supervised the production to assure its authenticity."
     
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    September 13, 1916
    ROALD DAHL BORN[​IMG]

    Roald Dahl, one of the great children’s authors of the 20th century, was born in Cardiff, Wales, on this day in 1916. Dahl was primarily a writer who worked in print rather than on the screen, however his work has proved irresistible to filmmakers over the years, with classic books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox all being made into movies. Dahl was himself, briefly, a scriptwriter, penning film versions of two Ian Fleming novels, You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, in the late 60s, though both of those scripts were subsequently rewritten by other writers. Dahl also wrote an initial script of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however the movie was significantly altered in the hands of a second screenwriter, David Seltzer, and filmed as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), with Gene Wilder’s Wonka replacing the book’s young hero, Charlie, as the central figure. As a result, the process of adapting one of Dahl’s books became much more difficult, as he chose to veto any script that didn’t capture the essence of his work. Since his death in 1990, his widow, Liccy Dahl, has taken over the role of deeming whether a movie will be made or not, and it has been under her guidance that most Dahl adaptations – most recently Tim Burton’s revisionist Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – have made their way to the big screen. Dahl’s other major movie connection was that he was married to actress Patricia Neal between 1953 and 1983, and nursed Neal back to health following her stroke in the mid-1960s. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1971 movie The Night Digger, which starred Neal.
     
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    September 15, 1946
    TOMMY LEE JONES BORN
    [​IMG]
    In the upcoming feature The Company Men, Gene McClary is an aging senior manager of a large New England construction firm. It's the kind of place that makes stuff — big stuff, like ships and industrial products. The kind of stuff America is not supposed to make anymore. In John Wells' feature, McClary is played by Tommy Lee Jones, who was born September 15, 1946, and there is perhaps no other actor alive today so capable of projecting the plainspoken American decency that is rapidly sliding away in today's new globalist corporate culture. The son of a policewoman mother and oil rig-worker father, Jones attended Harvard University, where he roomed with future vice-president Al Gore. After graduating cum laude, Jones moved to New York, where he broke into acting on the Broadway stage and in small television supporting roles. It wasn't until the 1980 film Coal Miner's Daughter that Jones found a role that connected him to larger success. He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of country singer Loretta Lynn's husband, "Mooney" Lynn. Then, in 1982, Jones chillingly played Gary Gilmore in the TV adaptation of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song. In 1993 he played Marshall Samuel Gerard in the film adaptation, The Fugitive, an Oscar-winning role that launched Jones to the Hollywood A-list. A string of commercial successes followed, including his comedic science-fiction franchise Men in Black. In 2005, Jones made his directorial debut in a script written by Guillermo Arriaga: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, the story of a Mexican's wrongful death at the Texas border. Wrote Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, "Mr. Jones, whose face is a landscape of craggy suggestiveness, handles the story's cubistic structure with finesse... If Mr. Jones finds humor in this rough, seemingly inhospitable landscape, it is perhaps because his love for the place and its people are so palpable."

     
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    September 16, 1932
    THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME RELEASED[​IMG]

    Months before King Kong had its premiere in March 1933, RKO released another thriller, The Most Dangerous Game, which was shot alongside the big ape epic. When David O. Selznick put together the big-budget King Kong, he planned for a B-film to be shot alongside it, using the same sets and much of the same talent in order to defray costs. The creative team behind Kong, director Ernest B. Schoedsack and producer Merian C. Cooper, were well-known for their high-octane adventure spirit. Indeed their first collaboration, the 1925 documentary Grass, chronicled their dangerous 6-week trek across Iran. So, for Kong’s precursor, the filmmakers turned to the highly anthologized 1924 short story by Richard Connell, doubling Kong’s Sumatra-area Skull Island for the Caribbean haunt known as Zaroff’s island. In the story, big-game hunter Sanger Rainsford (Joel McCrea) is shipwrecked on his way to South America. But the seemingly deserted island actually is the home to Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks), a crazed sociopath who uses his retreat as a park to hunt humans. This horrific conceit, illustrated in graphic detail with mounted human heads and stuffed corpses, made the film a box office hit. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times highlighted in his review the delicious evil of Zaroff: “Mr. Banks makes this strange Count really interesting. In fact his portrayal is so good that both Joel McCrea and Fay Wray...are quite over-shadowed." The film’s success inspired a ranged of further remakes and adaptations, including Robert Wise’s 1945 A Game of Death, Roy Boulting’s 1956 Run for the Sun, and Ernest R. Dickerson’s 1994 Surviving the Game
     
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    September 17, 1936
    MY MAN GODFREY OPENS[​IMG]

    On this day in 1936, a classic comedy about class, My Man Godfrey, opened in theaters Stateside. Coming threw years before arguably the greatest class comedy of them all, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, director Gregory La Cava’s adaptation of the novel 1101 Park Avenue by Eric Hatch had somewhat more screwball (and, indeed, goofball) and less poignancy than Renoir’s movie. The film starred Carole Lombard as Irene Bullock, a fluffy-headed heiress, and William Powell as the titular Godfrey, a homeless man she hires as her butler. Irene, of course, falls for the handsome, urbane Godfrey, with the joke being that a hobo is smarter than and generally superior to the dumb, spoiled and frivolous people he is employed by. Of course, it transpires that Godfrey is, in fact, also one of the rich, landed classes, a Harvard grad who, in a lovelorn, downcast state, felt more in tune with the derelicts whose lives had fallen apart during the Great Depression. (Incidentally, the film starred Powell and Lombard three years after they were divorced. Despite the awkwardness of working with his ex-wife, Powell had declared the comedically gifted Lombard the only actress worthy of the role.) Writing about the movie in 2008, Roger Ebert wrote despairingly, “This movie, and the actors in it, and its style of production, and the system that produced it, and the audiences that loved it, have all been replaced by pop culture of brainless vulgarity. But the movie survives, and to watch it is to be rescued from some people who don't care that it makes a difference ... to some people.”

     
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    Sep. 18, 1962
    A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE OPENS[​IMG]

    When Elia Kazan’s film A Streetcar Named Desire opened in September of 1951, those who’d read the play or seen the Broadway production, knew this was something very different. The 1947 drama, for which playwright Tennessee Williams received a Pulitzer Prize, was for the most part intact. The haughty Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) comes to live with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), and her sister’s earthy husband Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando). But the nuances that defined William’s dramatic style were quietly erased. The Production Code Administration, led by Joseph Breen, demanded up front 68 changes (some rather major). Blanche’s dead gay husband is now simply referred to as sensitive; the rape is covered in darkness; Blanche’s sexuality is quieted down. But even this was not enough, as Warner Brothers worked out a 11th hour deal with the Catholic League (unbeknownst to either Kazan or Williams) to cut another four minutes from the film before it was released. But while film censors tried to water down the play’s fiery sexuality, the one thing they couldn’t cut was Marlon Brando himself. In one of his first film roles, the shirtless, screaming Brando helped to redefine the image of American masculinity with one word—“STELLA!”

     
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    September 19, 1980
    ORDINARY PEOPLE RELEASED[​IMG]
    The star of such films as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Way We Were, and The Great Waldo Pepper, Redford, with his iconic, particularly American good looks, was actor, matinee idol, and social activist throughout the 1960s and '70s. In 1980, he added "director" to his resume with Ordinary People, a searing drama of familial discontent for which he won Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director. Based on the novel by Judith Guest, Ordinary People wasn't the usual sort of actor's directing debut. For one, Redford didn't appear in the film. It also wasn't something handed to him by an awed studio executive. Redford optioned the novel and developed the screenplay himself, working with screenwriter Alvin Sargeant. The film tells the story of a husband (Donald Sutherland), wife (Mary Tyler Moore) and son (Timothy Hutton) in the days following the son's failed suicide attempt. The son tries to work through his emotional turmoil -- caused in part by his guilt over a sailing accident that claimed the life of his older brother -- with a sensitive psychiatrist, played by Judd Hirsch. Seen now, 30 years later, it's amazing how influential the film has been. Its traces can be seen in films as diverse as American Beauty, The Ice Storm, and the Rabbit Hole. Wrote Roger Ebert of its nuanced look at suburban tragedy, "Director Redford places all these events in a suburban world that is seen with an understated matter-of-factness. There are no cheap shots against suburban lifestyles or affluence or mannerisms: The problems of the people in this movie aren't caused by their milieu, but grow out of themselves. And, like it or not, the participants have to deal with them. That's what sets the film apart from the sophisticated suburban soap opera it could easily have become."


     
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    YES HE WAS [smilie=hot over you.gif][smilie=hot over you.gif][smilie=hot over you.gif].................................
     
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    September 20, 1975
    ASIA ARGENTO BORN upload_2016-9-20_21-8-48.jpeg

    Asia Argento, the dark, beguiling daughter of giallo master Dario Argento, was born in Rome on this day in 1975. Argento is one of the most fascinating women working in contemporary cinema, an actress who has created an unashamedly sexual identity for herself on screen and brings a brash honesty to her performances that is unmatched among her peers. Being the daughter of the director of such classic Italian horror movies as Deep Red and Suspiria unquestionably was a major factor in Argento becoming such a unique personality. At night, Dario would read his young daughter his violent, twisted film scripts instead of bedtime stories, and at the age of six Asia's birthday treat from her father was to be able to watch Poltergeist. Her father's work made him distant, and Argento says, “I acted to gain my father’s attention. It took a long time for him to notice me – I started when I was nine, and he only cast me when I was 16. And he only became my father when he was my director. I always thought it was sick to choose looking at yourself on a big screen as your job. There has to be something crooked in your mind to want to be loved by everybody. It’s like being a prostitute, to share that intimacy with all those people.” Despite that statement, Asia Argento has principally distinguished herself as an actress in movies as diverse as the Vin Diesel action thriller xXx, Gus Van Sant's experimental Last Days and Catherine Breillat's costume drama The Last Mistress. Beyond her appearances on screen, she has also written and directed the features Scarlet Diva and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (plus a number of fiction and documentary shorts, and music videos), done modeling, been a video diarist, and written magazines stories, the novel I Love You Kirk, and a book of poetry that was published when she was just eight years old.
     
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    September 21, 1950
    BILL MURRAY BORN[​IMG]

    Is there an actor today who has so expertly, uniquely and, yes, peculiarly nailed the zeitgeist of the times as Bill Murray? Edgy without being mean-spirited or snarky, emotional without tipping into the sentimental, and crazily offbeat while not being alienating or obscure, Bill Murray fashioned a unique comic persona early in his career and has only deepened and expanded it as the years have gone by. Born September 21, 1950 in a Chicago suburb, Murray cut his performing teeth as a member of the city’s famous Second City improvisational comedy theater group. He moved to New York City in 1974 and, in 1976, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. In characters ranging from an anarchically smarmy lounge singer to an off-kilter anchorman, Murray brought both charm and an outsider edge to the best years of the now seminal program. Murray’s first film role was as a counselor at a rundown summer camp in Meatballs. Other films included Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghosbusters and Groundhog Day. In 1998 he co-starred in Rushmore, and in 2003 he co-starred in Lost in Translation. With these films, both made by rising indie auteurs (Wes Anderson and Sophia Coppola, respectively), Murray began a new phase of his career, one in which he astutely modulated his status as this generation’s iconic comedian. Bittersweet emotions began to mingle with Murray’s usually outrageous humor. Always private and living outside of the Hollywood spotlight, Murray has become a figure both accessible and mysterious, popping up at random Williamsburg house parties while also, famously, eschewing an agent for a 1-800 number that producers and directors must call if they want to work with him. Murray can currently be seen on-screen in Aaron Schneider’s Get Low as the scheming owner of a small town funeral parlor.

     
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    Sep. 22, 1990
    MILLER'S CROSSING RELEASED upload_2016-9-23_18-48-58.jpeg

    The Coen brothers' Miller's Crossing, released September 22, 1990, is a complicated movie. The 1920s-set gangster movie was in fact so tricky for Joel and Ethan Coen to write that they got writer's block and, to alleviate it, took a break from the script and wrote Barton Fink, a film about, yes, writer's block. A partial adaptation of two Dashiell Hammett novels, Red Harvest and The Glass Key, Miller's Crossing is about an aging gang boss Leo O'Bannon, (Albert Finney), his wily adviser, Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne), the moll they both love/lust after, Verna Bernbaum (Marcia Gay Harden), and Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito), the upstart mobster who wants to rake over running the (unnamed) city from Leo. In both its numerous complex machinations, crosses, double- and triple-crosses of its characters and its sometimes obscure contemporary language (sample line: "Take your flunky and dangle"), it is about as dense a movie as one can imagine. It was also beautifully shot, compellingly acted, had the weight of a Shakespearian history and had a number of virtuosic set pieces, such as when Leo pursues and kills the goons sent to kill him while "Danny Boy" by Frank Patterson plays. Though a box office failure on its release (it only took $5 million, while costing $14 million), it is now regarded as one of the best films made by the Coens, and in 2005 was named by Time as one 100 best films made since the magazine was started in 1923.
     
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    Sep. 23, 1994
    SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION RELEASED upload_2016-9-23_18-50-49.jpeg

    When the fable-like prison drama The Shawshank Redemption opened in 1994, the filmmaker Frank Darabont was considered only a respectable writer and director of television horror. His 1983 adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Women in the Room” was good enough to gained him one of King’s celebrated Dollar Deals, a consideration that allows promising filmmakers to adapt a short story for only a dollar. Darabont choose “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” to adapt, although he sat with the story for nearly five years to get the right tone. Castle Rock Entertainment, who recently produced another Stephen King story “Stand By Me,” came on as producers. But the film’s future was anything but certain. There were initial casting issues. Tom Hanks and Kevin Costner turned the lead down, before the producers agreed on Tim Robbins. Despite generally excellent reviews, the film did terrible box office, only getting a small bounce when it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Then something strange happened. After it was released on video and sold to TNT (which played the film over and over again), the film started to gain a life of its own. Christian groups latched on to it as a film of Christian principles, and websites dedicated to the film and its message started to pop up everywhere. Admirers returned to the film, over and over again. In 1998, the film failed to make the AFI’s list of 100 films, but 2007 it was ranked 72nd. Likewise in 2006Empire magazine readers listed The Shawshank Redemption as number 1 on their “Greatest Movies” list.
     
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    Sept 29, 1955
    LAUGHTON'S BATTLE OF LOVE AND HATE upload_2016-9-29_20-57-9.jpeg

    When Night of the Hunter opened on 29 September 1955, its director Charles Laughton already had a towering reputation as an actor. He’d won a Best Actor Oscar in 1933 for The Private Life of Henry VIII, and was critically applauded for his performances in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and The Canterville Ghost (1944). The film about, adapted by James Agee’s from Davis Grubb’s best-selling novel about struggle between a psychotic ex-con trying to lay his hands on a hidden treasure of $10,000, and the brother and sister who stand in his way. The film is anchored by Robert Mitchum’s searing performance as Harry Powell, a malevolent preacher whose signature mark was the words “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed on the knuckles of either hand. And novice director Laughton proves a master at orchestrating the dark performances with Stanley Cortez’s luminous cinematography and the chilling score by Walter Schumann. Though the film is now an undisputed classic, at the time it received such a poor critical reception that a disgusted Laughton vowed never to direct again, and shelved plans to direct Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. Mitchum later calledNight of the Hunter his best movie role and Laughton his favorite director.
     
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    Sep. 30, 1948
    ROBERT MITCHUM RELEASED FROM JAIL upload_2016-9-30_20-49-4.jpeg

    Today in 1948, Robert Mitchum was released from jail after his bust on September 1 of that year for possession of marijuana. Mitchum, a rising young actor at the time, had been at the center of a massive press melee for the entire month after he was arrested, along with actress Lila Leeds and dancer Vicki Evans, for being found with “special cigarettes.” Though Mitchum’s dry quote that he enjoyed “the best sleep I ever got” is oft cited, at the time he feared that the arrest marked the end of his career, not least because he’d been nabbed with two women, neither of whom were his wife. When asked his occupation by the booking officer, he replied “Former actor.” But although RKO and studio honchos David O. Selznick and Howard Hughes publicly chastised the actor and the press went after him viciously, the spotlight put on Mitchum by the incident actually worked in his favor. When RKO released the already completed Rachel and the Stranger, the reaction was not violently negative as expected but instead very positive, with audiences in cities across the country applauding at screenings. Mitchum served 43 days at a prison farm (where he was famously photographed by Time), but his conviction was later overturned when it was revealed that his arrest had been a set-up, a sting operation intended to send a message to other immoral Hollywood dope smokers.
     
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    October 1, 1974
    A BLOODY SUCCESS upload_2016-10-2_15-52-32.jpeg upload_2016-10-2_15-52-50.jpeg

    While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre opened on October 1, 1974, its grim popularity kept theaters packed well after Halloween. In 1973, former college professor Tobe Hooper drew on some research into the serial killer Ed Gein, his own former experience as a documentary filmmaker, and an anti-social fantasy he once dreamed while standing in a long line at a crowded hardware store to create one of the scariest and most influential horror films ever made. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was produced for $83,000 from the profits of the porn phenomenon Deep Throat and immediately attracted both praise and revulsion for the despairing bleakness of its vision. Shot on location with non-professional actors, the film felt real in ways that earlier horror films hadn't. And, despite its reputation as a gruesome gore fest, the film's on-screen bloodshed violence is actually quite minimal. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre gains its frights from pacing, suspense, and an atmosphere of authentic pain –– an off-screen vibe attested to by the film's participants that definitely showed up on screen. Hooper's film went on to spawn several sequels, including a blackly comic one with Dennis Hopper and a successful 2003 remake starring a pumped and sinewy Jessica Biel.
     
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    October 2, 1957
    THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI RELEASED upload_2016-10-4_18-22-5.jpeg

    Many classic movies, it seems, have a backstory detailing the struggles of its makers to get it into production, and The Bridge on the River Kwai – which came out in the UK on October 2, 1958 – is no different. The film, based on the novel by Pierre Boulle inspired by the real-life WWII incident, was a project being touted by producer Sam Spiegel, and the list of people who rejected the movie reads like a Who’s Who of Hollywood. The directors who failed to take on the film include Nicholas Ray, Howard Hawks, John Ford, Fred Zinnemann, William Wyler and Orson Welles (who was offered a star-director role), while the lead role of Colonel Nicholson was rejected by Alec Guinness, Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Ronald Colman, Ralph Richardson, Ray Milland, Anthony Quayle and James Mason – before Guinness relented and, at the second time of offering, took on the part. It was a good decision. His performance as Nicholson, the British PoW officer who goes mad from his obsession to complete the bridge, won an Academy Award for Best Actor, while David Lean won Best Director for his fine work on a film so many of his peers had shown no interest in. The Bridge on the River Kwai was, in fact, the turning point in Lean’s career: though already a successful director in the UK, Kwai’s seven Oscars, including Best Picture, elevated him to a major force in Hollywood and cemented his relationship with Siegel, who would go on to produce Lean’s great masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia.
     
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    October 3, 1960
    THE ENTERTAINER OPENS IN NEW YORK upload_2016-10-4_18-23-49.jpeg

    The New York premiere of Tony Richardson’s The Entertainer gave Americans a taste of the “Angry Young Men” school of drama that was all the vogue in Britain. A few years earlier, Laurence Olivier, the great classical actor, had solicited playwright John Osborne (whose drama Look Back in Anger lead this movement) to write a vehicle for him. Staged in 1957, the play casts Olivier as Archie Rice, a washed-up song-and-dance man who holds on desperately to his stale routines, even as his personal life is falling apart around him. The dramatic metaphor of England as a dilapidated music hall, playing the same old tired music, was not missed by audiences or critics, who loudly debated the play’s significance. After much acclaim, Olivier took the play to Broadway, where he was nominated for a Tony in 1958. Shortly after, up-and-coming director Tony Richardson agreed to help bring the film to screen, with Osborne co-writing the screenplay and Olivier assuming the lead. Indeed Olivier supposedly turned down a handsome Hollywood movie deal to make this film on which his fee was deferred. While the film wasn’t a box office hit, it was a huge critical success, garnering Olivier the sixth of his ten Oscar nominations. But moreover it helped establish him as a actor versatile enough to embody Shakespeare’s grandeur and a sad sack’s squalor.
     
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    October 4, 1951
    AN AMERICAN IN PARIS PREMIERES upload_2016-10-4_18-27-37.jpeg

    While director Vincente Minnelli and performer Gene Kelly were solid earners for MGM, their new filmAn American in Paris caused slight trepidation. For one thing, executives wondered whether the public could sit through a nearly 20-minute ballet section that bordered on the surreal (and cost the studios over $500,000 to make). The answer turned out to a resounding yes. The movie was not only a box office smash, but won six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Arthur Freed, who oversaw the musical unit of MGM, initiated the project with only a title and a composer. He explained to Alan Jay Lerner, who was to write the script, that the film would be named (and about) An American in Pariswith Gershwin music, especially his 1938 suite “An American in Paris.” The rest was dreamed up by Freed’s exceptionally talented team as they went along. Since they were unable to shoot in Paris, the designers created a magical copy in the MGM back lot. Freed picked Kelly as the lead, and worked closely with him and director Minnelli to create a ballet sequence that recreated Paris in the painterly styles of six of its most famous impressionistic and modernist painters (Raoul Dufy, Claude Renoir, Maurice Utrillo, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, Toulouse-Lautrec). The high art touches were not lost on all. One MGM responded, “Am I wrong? It seems to me that I once saw some paintings on 57th Street that looked like certain sets in the ballet.”
     
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    October 5, 1961
    BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S RELEASED upload_2016-10-5_17-21-14.jpeg
    A great performance, a classic song and iconic look were all introduced to the world on October 5, 1961, with the release of Breakfast At Tiffany's. The film is arguably the pinnacle of Audrey Hepburn’s career, but another screen beauty had initially been set to take the role of New York call girl Holly Golightly. When Truman Capote wrote the novella of the same name, he conceived Marilyn Monroe in the central role, and maintained that “Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey.” Monroe was initially interested in playing the role of a Texan country girl who lives off old rich New York men, but was apparently was dissuaded from doing so by acting coach Lee Strasberg. Hepburn certainly brought a very different quality to the role, adding an aristocratic grace to Holly that was out of keeping with Capote’s original character, and Hepburn herself would admit later that she felt she had been miscast. Ultimately, however, movie lovers’ image of Hepburn will forever be inextricably linked to her in the role of Holly, wearing Givenchy and with her cigarette holder in hand. Another unforgettable element of the film, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s song “Moon River” – which was written especially written for Hepburn’s limited vocal range – nearly didn’t make the movie. A Paramount exec demanded it be cut, but Hepburn’s tenacious response was, “Over my dead body.” Hepburn got her way and the “dubious ditty” won Best Song at the Academy Awards a few months later.
     
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    October 6, 1982
    TWILIGHT ZONE HELICOPTER DEATH CULPRITS FINED [​IMG]

    On this day in 1982, fines were handed out to John Landis’ Levitsky Prods and Western Helicopter Inc., the two companies implicated in the death of actor Vic Morrow and two child extras while filming Twilight Zone: The Movie. The film was a four-part compendium and it was while Landis was shooting his segment, “Time Out,’ that the tragic and gruesome deaths occurred. Morrow, a veteran actor, was the lead in Landis’ section, in which his bigoted character is forced to get a taste of the lives of the individuals he hates. In one scene, he experiences what it was like to be a Vietnamese father under attack from the U.S. during the Vietnam war. Landis had created a Vietnamese village in Valencia, CA, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, and in the early hours of the morning on July 23, 1982, was filming a scene where Morrow waded across a river, carrying 6-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen and 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le, while there were helicopters overhead and numerous explosions around him. Tragedy occurred when debris from one of the explosions hit the tail rotor of one of the helicopters, causing it to crash on top of Morrow, who was decapitated, and the young actors. The accident prompted legal action that lasted until 1987, and resulted in much tighter regulations regarding stunts and the employment of child actors.
     
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    October 7, 1963
    TOM JONES OPENS [​IMG]

    When United Artists opened Tony Richardson’s adaptation of the Henry Fielding novel Tom Jones in the autumn of 1963, they knew it was a hit. Their challenge was to convince Americans of that fact. The 18th century comic novel of a bastard trying to make his way in the world was barely known to most Americans. Nor were its stars, newcomers Albert Finney and Susannah York. And the director had a reputation that didn’t necessarily lead to better box office. In Britain, Richardson and his collaborator, the playwright and screenwriter John Osborne, had established themselves by making dark films about oppressed working-class characters. Films like Look Back in Anger (1958), A Taste of Honey (1961), and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962) had defined a new wave of British cinema. But Tom Jones went in a whole new direction. Filled with bawdy adventures and cinematic high-jinx, the film proved a box office smash––even if the critics didn’t all love it. Noting the film’s debt to the French New Wave, The Sunday Telegraph sneered, “Richardson is a director who assimilates other men’s styles as easily as a schoolboy catches measles.” In New York, however, critics loved the film. The New York Times singled out the “brilliant new star Albert Finney,” and the New York Herald Tribune’s Judith Crist called it “one of the most delightful movies of recent years.” But rather than capitalize on its urban success, UA allowed all this attention to simmer, waiting until January before opening in other cities. After the picture won four Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director) in the spring of 1964, UA took the picture wide, and pushed the film’s sexy fun, with a poster featuring a nearly bare-chested Albert Finney surrounded by a lusty wenches.

     
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    October 8, 1969
    ALL FOUR ONE upload_2016-10-8_14-52-35.jpeg

    On October 8, 1969, New York moviegoers were urged to “consider the possibilities” by buying a ticket to the debut feature of a young screenwriter-turned-director, Paul Mazursky. And, attracted by its promise of wife swapping and group sex amidst a suburban swirl of love beads, Nehru collars and group therapy sessions, audiences did. The film, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, was one of the year’s biggest hits, grossing $30 million off a production budget of only $2 million. Helped by the laid-back chemistry, good looks and improvisational ability of stars Natalie Wood, Robert Culp, Elliot Gould and Dyan Cannon, Mazursky’s comedy drama managed to both indulge audience’s fascination with ‘60s-era free love while satirizing it enough for mainstream viewers to keep it at a comfortable moral distance. Seen in today’s radically different cultural climate, the movie feels a bit like it’s tumbled out of a time capsule, but, writing at the time, critic Pauline Kael pinpointed what may be the film’s lasting legacy: a tonally tricky, humorously bitter comedic style that finds its echoes today in everything from Ben Stiller comedies to Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. She wrote, “You can feel something new in the comic spirit of this film –– in the way Mazursky gets laughs by the rhythm of clichés, defenses, and little verbal aggressions.”
     
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    October 9, 1964
    GUILLERMO DEL TORO BORN[​IMG]

    Guillermo Del Toro, the Oscar-nominated writer-director ofPan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy movies, today celebrates his 46th birthday. Del Toro is, in some senses, the ultimate fanboy filmmaker, a lifelong lover of movies and comic books who moved from aficionado to auteur, bringing an uncommon artistry, intelligence and sophistication to the horror and fantasy film genres. A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, del Toro was first drawn to horror movies – from the more cheap and cheesy 50s monster flicks and Hammer Horror movies to James Whale, Mario Bava and George A. Romero films – when he still extremely young. However, as he tells it, horror was all around him anyway. In interviews, he’s talked about seeing monsters in his bedroom as a toddler, and then being haunted by the ghost of his uncle – ironically, the man who had first introduced him to horror movies and novels. He began to draw his own monsters, and the fantastical world of horror he created became an escape from the world around him. (His grandmother, however, “went in with a vial of holy water and tried to exorcise me for the shit I was drawing. I started laughing and she got so scared that she threw more at me.") Also, says del Toro, being Mexican means that death is ever-present in his work: “I worked for months next to a morgue that I had to go through to get to work. I've seen people being shot; I've had guns put to my head; I've seen people burnt alive, stabbed, decapitated ... because Mexico is still a very violent place.” Del Toro first got into movies working in makeup and effects (he studied under the legendary Dick Smith), and later co-founded the Guadalajara Film Festival. In 1992, he directed his first feature, the inventive and macabre Cronos, and has not looked back since.
     
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    October 10, 1924
    ED WOOD BORN [​IMG]

    The man widely considered the worst film director ever, Edward Davis Wood, Jr., was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on this day in 1924. Wood’s childhood was notable for two things: his great love of cinema, which made him play hooky from school in order to spend time getting a different kind of education at his local movie theater; and the fact that his mother, who had wanted a girl rather than a boy, often dressed Wood in girl’s clothes, apparently until he was 12. At 17, Wood joined the Marines, and was most likely the only soldier who fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal wearing women’s underwear beneath his combat gear. After the war, he became a carnival worker, playing the freak as well as the bearded lady (which allowed him to crossdress and wear fake breasts). Wood is now celebrated, in a mostly ironic manner, for the films he directed in the 1950s, particularly the cross-dressing drama Glen or Glenda and sci-fi movie Plan 9 From Outer Space, in which bountiful enthusiasm failed to distract from the low production values, terrible acting and writing, lack of continuity, etc. Wood’s career was boosted by his use of an ailing Béla Lugosi in his movies, however after Lugosi’s death in 1956 Wood’s movies now lacked star power, as well as any other redeeming qualities. He made a few (mostly pornographic) films after Plan 9, and instead made money working as a screenwriter on exploitation movies and writing pornographic novels and magazine stories. After his death in 1978, he was known only as a figure of ridicule, but his reputation was boosted in the early 1990s due to Rudolph Grey's biography Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr. (1992) and Tim Burton’s loving biopic Ed Wood, in which Johnny Depp played the eponymous lead.
     

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