Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
Beauty and the Beast November 13, 1991
Beauty and the Beast premieres

The first animated film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opened in New York theaters November 13, 1991. Directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, with music by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, Beauty and the Beast mixed computer animation techniques with traditional animation as well as old-fashioned Broadway-style songs. Wrote Janet Maslin in the New York Times about this blend, “No live-action musical could ever match the miracles of anthropomorphism that occur here, or the fantastically sweeping scale. Nor could a live-action work achieve this mixture of elaborate, painstaking technique and perfect simplicity. Beauty and the Beast is filled with affectionate homages to the live-action sources that have inspired it, and indeed those influences are strong. But its overriding spirit is all its own.” The film is also known as the high point of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s “Disney renaissance,” when executive Jeffrey Katzenberg rode herd on a team of new young animators. This creatively fruitful but also turbulent time has been dissected in countless magazine articles and books, but it was also recalled recently by two men who were there, Don Hahn and Peter Schneider, in their doc Waking Sleeping Beauty. In a Filmmaker magazine interview, Schneider commented, “What people failed to capture amidst all the drama was the joy that exists while you are making a creative project. I wanted to capture the extraordinary joy of that period of time as well as the personal drama. It took the entire team to make these movies successful. It wasn’t just one individual, two individuals — it took a collective group of people working in a unique manner. It always gets put out there that Jeffery did this, or that Michael did that, but I wanted to show the inspirational teamwork. That was my motivation.”


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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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