A look back at this day in film history
November 24
October 4, 1895
Baby Buster

Buster Keaton was born on this day in 1895 in Piqua, Kansas, where his mother Myra happened to be while touring with Keaton’s father Joe, the co-owner with Harry Houdini of a traveling show called the Mohawk Indian Medicine Company (they sold medicine on the side, hence the name). Keaton was born Joseph Frank Keaton VI but got the nickname “Buster” at about the age of six months: he fell down a long flight of stairs and when he was seemingly unharmed by the tumble, Houdini declared “That was a buster!” – and it stuck. Being from good ol’ vaudeville stock, it was only a matter of timer before Keaton was lured by the smell of the greasepaint and at the age of three he was performing with his mother and father in The Three Keatons. The act involved Myra playing sax, and Keaton Sr. manhandling cheeky Buster, throwing him around the stage, against scenery and into the orchestra pit; seemingly, he was indestructible. Despite the perception that Keaton was being subjected to child abuse, he later claimed that he loved the pratfalls, which didn’t hurt him because he knew how to fall properly. Keaton, in fact, says he would laugh while being kicked through the air, but noticed that the audience laughed less when he did so. As a result, while still little more than a baby, Keaton realized he had to put on a poker face, and so the trademark of a comedy genius came into being.

More Flashbacks
Emir Kusturica November 24, 1954
Emir Kusturica born

Emir Kusturica, one of the most acclaimed figures in world cinema, was born on this day in 1954 in Sarajevo, the former Yugoslavian city which is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Read more »
November 24, 1948
The Bicycle Thief released

When Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief opened in New York, many heralded it as the finest realization of the Italian Neo-Realist style.

Read more »
November 24, 1947
Making a Black List

On 24 November, 1947 –– just days before Thanksgiving –– the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the famed Hollywood Ten for contempt of Congress. A month before, the House Un–American Activities Committee (HUAC) had turned its attention to Hollywood, calling up 43 people whom they suspected of communist sympathies, eventually whittling that list down to 11. Of these, Bertolt Brecht agreed to answer questions and immediately left the country. The remaining ten – nine screenwriters and one director – stood pat in their belief that the Fifth Amendment provided a Constitutional right for them not to testify against themselves. The House of Representatives’ vote on 24 November, however, disagreed. The next day, Hollywood joined in, suspending pay for the Hollywood Ten and issuing a joint statement showing their solidarity to fight the red menace. The top studios publicly proclaimed that they would fire anyone who was or had been a communist, and would not hire anyone with communist sympathies (proved or otherwise). Within weeks, scores of studio employees were on the street, pounding the pavement for another job. And the Hollywood Blacklist had officially begun and was in full force.

Read more »