Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 09
November 18, 1931
A Mädchen of Honor

On 18 November 1931 in Berlin, audiences loudly applauded the premiere of Mädchen in Uniform, a film that would go on to ignite both controversy and a burgeoning lesbian cinema. Adapted from Christa Winsloe’s novel Das Mädchen Manuela, and her later play Gestern und Heute (Yesterday and Today), the film tells of a budding love affair between a teacher and a student in a strict Prussian girls academy. While many critics argued the film’s storyline was more an attack on Prussian strictness than sexual conformity, lines like “What you call sin, I call the great spirit of love, which takes a thousand forms,” left little doubt where the film’s heart really was. Along with the 1919 gay male film Anders als die Andern, Mädchen aligned itself with the free-thinking and sexual experimentation of the Weimar Republic. Unfortunately, the film would soon be banned by the Nazis and its Jewish director Leontine Sagan and bisexual author Winsloe would be forced to flee the country. While the film was also banned in the US, and then seriously cut and censored, it was finally restored to its original form and spirit in 1994.


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December 9, 1973
Don't Look Now released

On December 9, 1978, Nicolas Roeg's iconic Venice-set chiller Don't Look Now went on release in New York City.

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December 9, 1973
Looking at Don't Look Now

When British director Nicolas Roeg’s perverse thriller Don’t Look Now hit American theaters, not everyone was happy. In the New York Times review, Vincent Canby claimed that when this “fragile soap bubble of a horror film” ends, “you may feel, as I did, that you've been had.” Adapted from a Daphne Du Maurier short story, Don’t Look Now previewed many of the director’s upcoming themes—chaotic, realistic sex; disjunctive narrative montages; storylines that collapse the psychological and the supernatural. Here a young couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland), traumatized by the recent drowning of their young daughter, comes to Venice for a working holiday and possible relief from their grief. What they find instead is a mystery lost in the maze of Venice’s back streets and canals and shrouded in the city’s famous fog. And while some find the film’s enigmatic style off-putting, more have found it unforgettable. The sex scene, which was thrown in at the last moment, has become so infamous that for years people have questioned whether it was real or simulated. The film’s fractured shooting style remains a model for how to transform a city into a cinematic character. And the infamous chase of a girl in a red raincoat has been referenced by films as diverse as the torture porn hit Hostel to the comedy In Bruges to James Bond’s Casino Royale to many music videos. 

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