A look back at this day in film history
November 30
Boy with Green Hair November 30, 1948
The Boy with Green Hair opens

The opening of the pacifist parable The Boy with Green Hair should be celebrated as the feature directorial debut of Joseph Losey. But, in truth, the film’s release, and subsequent failure, more clearly marks one of the first Hollywood casualties of the Cold War. Betsy Beaton’s original magazine story was focused on racism, but RKO chief Dore Schary and producer Adrian Scott wanted to turn the tale into a pro-peace childlike fantasy. Schary tapped Josephy Losey, who’d previously made a number of noir shorts for RKO, to direct. But in 1947, Scott was fired by RKO after he was called up before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). His replacement, stockbroker-turned-producer Stephen Ames, while not antagonistic to the film’s message, was more interested in promoting the color process, especially since he was a major stockholder in Technicolor. A young Dean Stockwell was hired to play the boy, and the film was made on the low scale of $500,000. But in 1948, when Howard Hughes took over control of RKO, the film, which he considered a perfect example of left-wing Hollywood politics, was singled out for scrutiny. Hughes not only came down hard on Losey, but also on the cast, calling up the 12-year-old Stockwell to get him to re-voice some of his dialogue. According to Norma Barzman, the wife of the film’s screenwriter, Hughes pushed Stockwell to add the line, “America has gotta have the biggest army, and the biggest navy, and the biggest air force in the world.” Stockwell refused to do it, and the film was released with little marketing muscle. Several years later, Losey himself was called up before HUAC, which cited among other things, his involvement with the film and his support of Adrian Scott. Rather than fight it, Losey moved to England to restart his career there, directing a number of classics of British cinema, like The Servant and Accident.

More Flashbacks
November 30, 1947
Ernst Lubitsch dies

On Sunday November 30, 1947, director Ernst Lubitsch was due at William Wyler’s home for an afternoon screening party.

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November 30, 1945
Noir Takes a Detour

In a time in which CGI and other advanced film technologies create worlds that are more lifelike than life itself, the grungy, low-rent charms of Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, which opened on November 20, 1945, should not be forgotten. Shot in less than one week on a few simple sets and using obvious rear-screen projection for all the driving scenes, the movie is, as Robert Ebert wrote, “so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school.” But despite its many technical flaws, the film is a film noir classic. Its indigent aesthetic amplifies rather than detracts from its bleak tale of blackmail and remorselessness. And, as the femme fatale, Ann Savage created perhaps the perfect noir heroine. “There is not a single fleeting shred of tenderness or humanity in her performance,” Ebert wrote.

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