Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 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.


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Fury May 29, 1936
Fritz Lang's Fury

That Fritz Lang’s Fury opened in May 1936 to good reviews was a shock to the executives at MGM who released it.

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May 29, 1981
Polyester released

After a four-year hiatus, scandalous Baltimore director John Waters returned with some new, um, material on this day in 1981. Polyester marked Waters’ first film after completing his so-called “Trash Trilogy” – Pink Flamingos (1972), Female Trouble (1974) and Desperate Living (1977) – and saw him move into more mainstream territory after that triptych’s shock tactics, most famously encapsulated in the moment in Pink Flamingos when Waters’ drag diva Divine eats freshly delivered doggie doo-doo.

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