A look back at this day in film history
November 29
October 15, 1999
Fight Club released

Ten years ago today, David Fincher’s Fight Club electrified American filmgoers with its dark and compelling vision of a disenfranchised generation of young men. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, told the story of an unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) who is drawn into an underground organization – in which men bond by pounding the shit out of each other – after he befriends one of its leaders, the charismatic anarchist and soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). Palahniuk had been inspired to write the book after he had noted the failure of his colleagues to acknowledge visible bruises he’d received after being beaten up one time. The novel’s uncompromisingly bleak and graphic vision of society made it a difficult film to adapt for commercial audiences (there was an infamous script report by a Fox reader slamming the project), however the challenge seemed perfect for director David Fincher, who brought his Se7en star Pitt on board as one of the leads. On its release, the star power of Pitt and Norton helped the film to be #1 at the box office on its opening weekend, however it ultimately was a disappointment commercially. Critics were split on the film at the time, with many disturbed by its uncompromising vision of violence, comparing it to Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. However in the decade since its release, Fight Club has achieved cult status (greatly helped by its continued life on DVD) and has become accepted as one of the essential films of the 1990s.

More Flashbacks
Jorge Muller and Carmen Bueno November 29, 1974
Carmen Bueno and Jorge Muller arrested

On Friday, November 29, 25-year-old film actress Carmen Bueno and 27 year-old cameraman Jorge Muller were working a documentary for the Peace Committee of the Chilean Churches when a dark car pulled beside them, shoved them in the back seat, and tore off.

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November 29, 1981
Natalie Wood dies

Hollywood legend Natalie Wood died November 29, 1981, at the age of 43. Wood first impressed audiences at the age 9 when she appeared in two Hollywood films: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and, most famously, Miracle on 34th St.

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November 29, 1945
Wilder's Lost Weekend

In 1945 Billy Wilder followed his hit film Double Indemnity, co-written with Raymond Chandler, with what was, for its era, a bold and startling movie––The Lost Weekend. “How daring can the screen dare to be?” asked the marketing materials, as Wilder and star Ray Milland chronicled a frustrated writer’s four-day drinking binge with the same expressionistic lighting and camera that Wilder previously used to depict noir obsession and betrayal. The film won four Oscars, including Best Actor, Director and Screenplay, surprising those who argued, pre-release, that the film was too shocking for theater audiences. Also, the alcohol industry lobbied Paramount Pictures against releasing the film (Wilder claimed Paramount was offered $5 million to shelve the picture) while temperance groups fought against it too, feeling that the pic glamorized drinking.  But there were still some aspects of its story that the filmmakers avoided. In the Charles Jackson novel on which the film is based, Milland’s character is driven to drink by the shame of a homosexual affair. In the film, his alcoholism is “explained” by a case of writer’s block.

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