Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
October 3, 1960
The Entertainer opens in New York

The New York premiere of Tony Richardson’s The Entertainer gave Americans a taste of the “Angry Young Men” school of drama that was all the vogue in Britain. A few years earlier, Laurence Olivier, the great classical actor, had solicited playwright John Osborne (whose drama Look Back in Anger lead this movement) to write a vehicle for him. Staged in 1957, the play casts Olivier as Archie Rice, a washed-up song-and-dance man who holds on desperately to his stale routines, even as his personal life is falling apart around him. The dramatic metaphor of England as a dilapidated music hall, playing the same old tired music, was not missed by audiences or critics, who loudly debated the play’s significance. After much acclaim, Olivier took the play to Broadway, where he was nominated for a Tony in 1958. Shortly after, up-and-coming director Tony Richardson agreed to help bring the film to screen, with Osborne co-writing the screenplay and Olivier assuming the lead. Indeed Olivier supposedly turned down a handsome Hollywood movie deal to make this film on which his fee was deferred. While the film wasn’t a box office hit, it was a huge critical success, garnering Olivier the sixth of his ten Oscar nominations. But moreover it helped establish him as a actor versatile enough to embody Shakespeare’s grandeur and a sad sack’s squalor.


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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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