A look back at this day in film history
November 28
October 14, 1954
Dreaming of a White Christmas

On Thursday 14 October 1954, the stars and producers of the Michael Curtiz’s holiday musical White Christmas were awarded with heart-felt applause at its New York premiere. The film became that year’s top grossing film, and went onto to become a perennial holiday favorite, especially after it premiered on television a decade later. But the film’s success was being planned years before its premiere. In the winter of 1940, the Jewish Irving Berlin wrote the film’s anthem to a Christian winter wonderland sitting poolside at the Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. Before crooning “White Christmas” as a duet with Marjorie Reynolds in the 1942 musical Holiday Inn (where it went on to win an Oscar for best song), Bing Crosby inaugurated the tune on Christmas night for his NBC radio show in 1941, just weeks after America had entered World War II. When released as a recording, the wistful ode to domestic peace quickly became a hit, especially for troops wishing to be home themselves. The song not only inspired the movie White Christmas, but remained the bestselling song of all time until 1998 when Elton John’s memorial to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind,” surpassed it.

More Flashbacks
Meet Me In St. Louis November 28, 1944
Meet Me in St. Louis opens in Technicolor

Opening November 28, 1944, Vincente Minelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis was one of the most commercially successful pictures of its day.

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November 28, 1938
Michael Ritchie born

Michael Ritchie, one of the most skilled yet underrated Hollywood directors of the 1970s, was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on this day in 1938.

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November 28, 1946
Dante's Divine Comedy of Horrors

In many ways, Joe Dante, born on this day 62 years ago today, is a film director from another age. Dante, a New Jersey native whose parents were golf pros, grew up in 1950s America and continues to embody the ethos of that decade in much of his film work. His influences, for example, include cartoonist Chuck Jones, champion of colorful 50s film comedy Frank Tashlin and B-movie mogul Roger Corman, and it was Corman who first initiated him into the world of movie production after Dante had spent some years as a film critic. Dante first enjoyed success with the Jaws­-inspired creature feature Piranha (1978) which he followed up with the werewolf movie The Howling (1981), another Corman production. Afterwards he graduated to big budget movies, often working for friend Steven Spielberg, and scored with hits like Gremlins (1984) and Innerspace (1987) and also indulged in nostalgic joint exercises like Twilight Zone: The Movie (1982), Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) and episodes of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories TV show. His work has always affectionately looked back on a time when cinema was all about tall tales, monsters, aliens and other such fun excesses of the cinema of bygone years, and Dante tapped into this most directly in Matinee (1993), his film about a William Castle-like producer whose productions thrived on gimmicks and shock tactics. Since the early 1990s, though, Dante has worked mostly in television, where he directed the cult series Eerie, Indiana, only occasionally returning to the big screen for movies like the kid-oriented Small Soldiers (1998) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). Now, however, Dante looks set to return to the fore with two projects which will that staple of 50s schlock horror, 3-D technology, which is popular once again 50 years on thanks to its revitalization through digital technology.

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