A look back at this day in film history
November 29
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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Jorge Muller and Carmen Bueno November 29, 1974
Carmen Bueno and Jorge Muller arrested

On Friday, November 29, 25-year-old film actress Carmen Bueno and 27 year-old cameraman Jorge Muller were working a documentary for the Peace Committee of the Chilean Churches when a dark car pulled beside them, shoved them in the back seat, and tore off.

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November 29, 1981
Natalie Wood dies

Hollywood legend Natalie Wood died November 29, 1981, at the age of 43. Wood first impressed audiences at the age 9 when she appeared in two Hollywood films: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and, most famously, Miracle on 34th St.

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November 29, 1945
Wilder's Lost Weekend

In 1945 Billy Wilder followed his hit film Double Indemnity, co-written with Raymond Chandler, with what was, for its era, a bold and startling movie––The Lost Weekend. “How daring can the screen dare to be?” asked the marketing materials, as Wilder and star Ray Milland chronicled a frustrated writer’s four-day drinking binge with the same expressionistic lighting and camera that Wilder previously used to depict noir obsession and betrayal. The film won four Oscars, including Best Actor, Director and Screenplay, surprising those who argued, pre-release, that the film was too shocking for theater audiences. Also, the alcohol industry lobbied Paramount Pictures against releasing the film (Wilder claimed Paramount was offered $5 million to shelve the picture) while temperance groups fought against it too, feeling that the pic glamorized drinking.  But there were still some aspects of its story that the filmmakers avoided. In the Charles Jackson novel on which the film is based, Milland’s character is driven to drink by the shame of a homosexual affair. In the film, his alcoholism is “explained” by a case of writer’s block.

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