Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
October 25, 1965
Alphaville released in NY

"Science fiction without special effects" is how critic Andrew Sarris described Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville, which opened in New York on October 25, 1965. Made during Godard's wildly creative early-to-mid-'60s period, after A Married Woman and before Pierrot le Fou, Alphaville is a sci-fi/detective movie mash-up, set on another planet that looks quite a bit like 1960s Paris. In a story about both depersonalization and mythmaking, Godard sent his detective Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) though an urban landscape that was both beautifully hip and also inflected with the seeds of alienation that the International Style of modern architecture would come to represent. But, most of all, Alphaville is one of Godard's most enjoyable philosophical goofs. Wrote Sarris, "There is much talk of societies in other galaxies, but their only manifestation is the Ford Galaxy that Eddie Constantine's Lemmy Caution (a low-rent French version of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe) moves about in. Most of Alphaville is nocturnal or claustrophobically indoors. Yet there is an exhilarating release in many of the images and camera movements because of Godard's uncanny ability to evoke privileged moments from many movies of the past."


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December 2, 1945
Penelope Spheeris born

On this day in 1945, director Penelope Spheeris was born in New Orleans.

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December 2, 1988
The Naked Gun Hits Its Target

It is relatively common these days for TV shows to be adapted into movies, but most often those films were based on successful and much-loved – not to mention long-running – series. However, in the case of The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, which was released today in 1988, the movie in question was the spawn of a TV show, Police Squad!, that had been cancelled by ABC in 1982 after only four episodes were aired. The spoof 70s style police show, however, gained cult status on the back of its silly humor, slapstick antics and intentional continuity errors. Indeed, it had such a Lazarus-like recovery to its reputation that its creators, Airplane's Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker, were given the opportunity by Paramount to make a feature about Leslie Nielsen's bumbling cop, Lt. Frank Drebin. Audiences responded enthusiastically to the film's inane antics and ridiculous plotlines and the movie became a massive success, raking in nearly $80m at the box office and spawning two further sequels – also starring Nielsen, and regular co-stars George Kennedy, Priscilla Presley and O.J. Simpson – both of which also were incredibly popular. The third installment, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, was released in 1994, however the franchise's success is such that Paramount is reportedly considering bringing back the characters for another outing produced by their DTV division (though probably without the involvement of Abrahams, the Zucker brothers or Nielsen).

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