Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 28
Grace Kelly November 12, 1929
Grace Kelly born

In 1956, Grace Kelly would be reborn into royalty as Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco after she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in a ceremony watched the world over. Her actual birth, however, as the third child (and second daughter) of Margaret and John Kelly of Philadelphia, was less dramatic. While her family was wealthy, they were far from the high society she would often represent in films. Indeed, as Democratic Irish Roman-Catholics, her family was for the most part barred from competing in real Philadelphia society. On the other hand, in the midst of America’s worst economic collapse, she wanted for little. Born only a month after the stock market crash of 1929, Kelly was raised in a world of affluence and ease. While both her parents were enthusiastically athletic, Grace was more interested in books, art, and drama. One of her biggest influence was her uncle George, a successful playwright who was generally shunned by the family for being both an artist and a gay man. Kelly later said of her uncle, “He introduced me to all kinds of things I would never have considered or been exposed to––classical literature, poetry and great plays. …He was also one of the few people who stood up to my father, disagreed with him, contradicted him. I thought Uncle George was fearless.” At age 17, Kelly also stood up to her father when she moved to NYC to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She further enraged everyone by refusing any assistance, carving out a successful modeling career to pay for her education. Having gotten cast in several Broadway shows (including The Philadelphia Story, the drama she would later redo as a musical in her last film High Society), Kelly then showed up in a small part in the 1951 suspense drama Fourteen Hours. However, her real screen debut would be the next year when she was cast opposite Gary Cooper in High Noon. From that point, her career took off. Before she stopped acting in 1956 to become Princess Grace, she’d made 10 films (three with Alfred Hitchcock), received an Oscar nomination in 1954 for Mogambo, and won a Best Actress Academy Award the next year for The Country Girl

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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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