Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 01
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
Adrienne Shelly November 1, 2006
Adrienne Shelly killed

Adrienne Shelly, one of independent film’s true stars of the 1990s and, with her features Sudden Manhattan, I’ll Take You There, and Waitress, a skilled director, died tragically November 1, 2006.

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November 1, 1938
The Lady Vanishes opens in US

When Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes opened in America, it confirmed his reputation as the best British director, although Hitchcock was hoping that the film would lead to him becoming one of Hollywood’s best as well.

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November 1, 1984
The First Milk Film

Milk's documentary precursor, The Times of Harvey Milk, takes its bow at the Castro Theatre.

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