Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
November 14, 1969
Coppola's Dream Machine

Inspired by the filmmaking systems he had seen in Europe, this week in 1969 Francis Ford Coppola set up his own utopian film company, American Zoetrope. The company got its name from a zoetrope (a pre-cinematic projection device) which Coppola had been given by filmmaker Mogens Scott-Hansen, and was co-founded with George Lucas, who Coppola had met while he was filming Finian’s Rainbow on the Warner Brothers lot, where Lucas was an intern. The pair originally planned to base themselves in a mansion in the Bay Area’s Marin County, but temporarily housed the firm and their numerous pieces of equipment in a warehouse in San Francisco. The first American Zoetrope production was Lucas’ debut, THX 1138 (1971), and while the company still exists today, it is now located in San Francisco’s famous Sentinel Building and is owned by Coppola’s two filmmaking children, Sofia and Roman.


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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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