Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 22
Close Encounters of the Third Kind November 16, 1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind opens

Thirty-three years after its opening on November 16, 1977, you can still hear those five notes. For Close Encounters of the Third Kind, his follow-up to Jaws, Steven Spielberg asked composer John Williams to compose a musical phrase that would represent mankind’s attempt to communicate with the aliens responsible for a rash of UFO sightings. Williams reportedly chafed at the five-note limitation, wanting at least seven or eight notes to work with. But Spielberg argued for five, citing the letters in the word “hello” as inspiration. The scorer went on to listen to “When you Wish Upon a Star” as inspiration for what would be one of his most memorable soundtracks. As for the film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is one of the director’s best, a weird fusion of the UFO-mania of the time, religious symbolism, and the loopy narrative integrity of a sci-fi obsessed teenage mind. (The film had its origins in a script Spielberg wrote while a teen.) In the Chicago Reader (http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/close-encounters-of-the-third-kind/Film?oid=1068469) Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, “For better or worse, one of Steven Spielberg's best films, and perhaps still the best expression of his benign, dreamy-eyed vision. Humanity's first contact with alien beings proves to be a cause for celebration and a form of showbiz razzle-dazzle that resembles a slowly descending chandelier in a movie palace..... Very close in overall spirit and nostalgic winsomeness to the fiction of Ray Bradbury, with beautiful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond that deservedly won an Oscar. This is dopey Hollywood mysticism all right, but thanks to considerable craft and showmanship, it packs an undeniable punch.”


More Flashbacks
Mark Ruffalo November 22, 1967
Mark Ruffalo born

If every generation gets the leading man it deserves, then we should be grateful that Mark Ruffalo’s star is on the rise.

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November 22, 2002
Far From Heaven opens

When Far from Heaven opened in 2002, audiences could believe they had traveled back nearly 50 years to 1957, when the film is set.

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November 22, 1963
The Film Seen Round the World

On November 22, 1963, an accidental filmmaker made what became the most obsessed over film of the twentieth century. Standing on a concrete overpass in Dallas, women’s clothing manufacturer Abraham Zapruder raised his Bell and Howell 8mm camera and tracked the motorcade that carried president John F. Kennedy through Dealy Plaza. Zapruder’s 27 seconds of footage shot from a clear, elevated vantage point are the only complete recording of Kennedy’s assassination and a focal point for government investigators and conspiracy theorists alike. The film also became the object of one of the stranger ownership tussles in modern cinema. Zapruder gave copies of his film to the Secret Service and, three days after the shooting, sold the negative and all rights to Life Magazine. Zapruder’s heirs later disputed the sale, and the film was eventually returned to them by Life owner Time Inc. for $1 dollar. In 1992, however, the U.S. declared the film an “assassination record” and the property of the government. A lengthy dispute ensued over the amount Zapruder’s heirs should be paid. The government proposed paying the family $3 to $5 million; the Zapruders argued that the film should be valued similarly to recent sales of a Van Gogh painting and an Andy Warhol silk screen of Marilyn Monroe. Finally, arbitrators worked out a value of $16 million. Shortly thereafter, Zapruder’s heirs donated one of the original copies of the film and its copyright to the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, which now oversees all rights requests.

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