A look back at this day in film history
December 28
October 13, 1950
All About All About Eve

The melodrama of fame, All About Eve, brought out its stars for a New York premiere on October 13, 1950. Bette Davis was there, as was Anne Baxter and Marilyn Monroe. Davis (recently been dropped from Warner Brothers after a string of flops) anchored the story of a fading theatre actress being upstaged by a cunning ingénue Eve (Anne Baxter). Davis was the filmmakers’ sixth choice, after Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Gertrude Lawrence, Tallulah Bankhead and Susan Hayward. Anne Baxter stepped up to play Eve, after Jeanne Craig became pregnant and Donna Reed was passed over. And the blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe was just starting out––much the chagrin of many of the actor’s wives. (Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Sanders’ then wife, would come to the set to keep an eye out for the new girl in town). The film, adapted from a real-life inspired short story by Mary Orr published in Cosmopolitan, proved an instant success, going on to receive a record 14 Academy Award nominations (a feat only equalled by Titanic), and winning six Oscars including Best Picture. In an ironic twist, the film which satirized New York’s theater world, was later adapted into the Broadway musical Applause.

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Sam Peckinpah Dec. 28, 1984
Sam Peckinpah dies

Sam Peckinpah, the hard-living, hard-drinking director whose hypnotic approach towards on-screen violence has influenced generations of directors, died on December 28, 1984.

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December 28, 1984
Goodbye, Bloody Sam

When Sam Peckinpah died 24 years ago today, it marked the end of the iconic director’s hard living existence. Simply put, Peckinpah was a man’s man, a drinker, a drug user, someone with an obsession with guns – the cinema’s answer to Ernest Hemingway. Peckinpah was also, of course, one of the most influential figures in 60s and 70s American filmmaking with his testosterone-soaked movies, beginning with westerns like Ride the High Country and Major Dundee and moving onto the operatic violence of his masterpieces The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and Cross of Iron. The fact that Peckinpah died in the 1980s was somehow fittingly symbolic, as the Hollywood which had fostered his talent and individuality was dying also. He had built his career on the success of Wild Bunch and had been allowed to have a degree of creative freedom, whether it was to make unusually sweet, non-violent westerns (The Ballad of Cable Hogue), a project starring two folk singers (Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, with Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson) or a highly controversial film featuring a brutal rape scene (Straw Dogs). Peckinpah too was legendary for his bad temper and lack of self control – one story tells of him urinating on the movie screen to express his disapproval – and when the quality of his work dipped in the late 70s and early 80s, it became apparent that his days in Hollywood were numbered. His hedonistic lifestyle would ultimately prove his undoing, leading to the heart failure that killed him at the age of only 59.

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