Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
November 15, 1956
Tender Box Office

Early on the chilly evening of 15 November 1956 outside of the Paramount Theater in New York City, thousands of fans screamed for their idol Elvis Presley. He wasn’t there for a concert, but for the premiere of his film debut, a Civil War melodrama called Love Me Tender (after Elvis’ hit song). While in hindsight it seems obvious that the King was an ideal candidate to transition from recording to film, the producers were not so certain at the time: the film’s original title was The Reno Brothers and Elvis was billed third, after Richard Egan and Debra Paget. But after Love Me Tender pulled in over a million dollars on its first weekend, and audiences could barely hear the film’s wooden dialogue over the screaming teens in the audience, Elvis became box office gold, going on to make 31 feature films in the next 15 years.


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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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