Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 03
October 8, 1969
All Four One

On October 8, 1969, New York moviegoers were urged to “consider the possibilities” by buying a ticket to the debut feature of a young screenwriter-turned-director, Paul Mazursky. And, attracted by its promise of wife swapping and group sex amidst a suburban swirl of love beads, Nehru collars and group therapy sessions, audiences did. The film, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, was one of the year’s biggest hits, grossing $30 million off a production budget of only $2 million. Helped by the laid-back chemistry, good looks and improvisational ability of stars Natalie Wood, Robert Culp, Elliot Gould and Dyan Cannon, Mazursky’s comedy drama managed to both indulge audience’s fascination with ‘60s-era free love while satirizing it enough for mainstream viewers to keep it at a comfortable moral distance. Seen in today’s radically different cultural climate, the movie feels a bit like it’s tumbled out of a time capsule, but, writing at the time, critic Pauline Kael pinpointed what may be the film’s lasting legacy: a tonally tricky, humorously bitter comedic style that finds its echoes today in everything from Ben Stiller comedies to Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. She wrote, “You can feel something new in the comic spirit of this film –– in the way Mazursky gets laughs by the rhythm of clichés, defenses, and little verbal aggressions.”


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December 3, 1930
Jean-Luc Godard born

Perhaps not coincidentally, cinema’s premiere critic of bourgeois politics was raised in an affluent and comfortable life. Jean-Luc Godard was born in Paris, the second of four children, to a respected physician with his own clinic and a mother whose family had strong banking interests.

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December 3, 1993
Derek Jarman's Blue in New York

On a December Friday in New York City in 1993, cineastes got the chance to get a look at Derek Jarman’s new film, Blue. The British painter, filmmaker and activist had increasingly gained an American reputation with homoerotic art films like Caravaggio and Edward II, placing him along with Todd Haynes and Gregg Araki at the forefront of New Queer Cinema. But those who had not read about Blue beforehand found the screening a confusing and uncomfortable situation. While the soundtrack contained an ongoing discussion between Jarman, Tilda Swinton and others for 79 minutes, the screen stayed a constant, undying blue. By the time he made the film, Jarman, one of Britain’s most profound colorists, was going blind from cytomegalovirus, an AIDS-related infection. Departing from this world and into language, Jarman found comfort in the abstract warmth of a blue metaphor (from sad to open to the far beyond), creating in the process a stunning experimental film about the limits of film, sight and life itself. In a little more than two months after it was screened in New York, Derek Jarman was dead from complications due to AIDS.

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