Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 07
November 5, 1982
Jacques Tati dies

On this day in 1982, Jacques Tati passed away in Paris, as a result of a pulmonary embolism, at the age of 75. Tati had begun acting on screen exactly 50 years previously, in Oscar, champion de tennis (1932), but his directing career only lasted 25 years and sadly offered up only six features, plus a handful of shorts. After Tati’s initial success with his postman comedy Jour de fête (1949) and then two Hulot hits, Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1953) and Mon Oncle (1958), he had gone on a long hiatus before returning with Playtime, a Hulot movie set in Paris for which a massive futuristic set (known as “Tativille”) was built. Though hailed by François Truffaut as "a film that comes from another planet, where they make films differently," it was an enormous commercial failure and bankrupted Tati. He came back with another Hulot movie which parodied the advances of modern life, Trafic (1971), in which his comic hero was a car inventor, but the truth was that he was sick of his bumbling alter ego. He was absent from his final feature, Parade, a 1974 circus film made for Swedish, and at the time of his passing he was planning a project, Confusion, which would be a serious film that began with the death of Monsieur Hulot. In an interesting development, Tati’s work is set to return to the screen shortly as French director Sylvain Chomet (best known for The Triplets of Belleville) is close to completing The Illusionist, based on a 1956 script by Tati.


More Flashbacks
December 7, 1960
Village of the Damned released

In the winter of 1960, a new vision of horror came to American cinemas from Britain. The Village of the Damned tells the story of a small English village in which all the women are mysteriously pregnant.

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December 7, 1949
Tom Waits For No Man

Thomas Alan Waits was born in Pomona, California, on this day, 59 years ago. The name Tom Waits is, of course, primarily associated with music: Waits is a distinctive, gravely-voiced singer-songwriter who has made classic albums like Rain Dogs and Blue Valentine and has been a force on the American music scene since the 1970s. Waits, though, with his rasping tones and rough-hewn features is also a casting director’s dream and has been involved in film almost as long as he has in music. Bizarrely, it was Sylvester Stallone who first put him on screen in his directorial debut, Paradise Alley, as a piano player called Mumbles, though Waits subsequently drew attention from somewhat more distinguished helmers. The first of these was Francis Ford Coppola, who cast Waits in four consecutive movies (One From the Heart, The Outsiders, Rumblefish and The Cotton Club) and also had Waits score One From the Heart, for which he received an Oscar nod. His other great relationship has been with director Jim Jarmusch, who also initiated Waits into his exclusive Sons of Lee Marvin club; Jarmusch first utilized Waits in Down by Law in 1986 and has since used his musical or thespian talents in Mystery Train, Night on Earth and Coffee and Cigarettes. Appealing to auteurs with an eye for idiosyncratic, Waits has also appeared twice in Terry Gilliam and Hector Babenco productions and had memorable roles in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (opposite Lily Tomlin) and 2007’s Wristcutters: A Love Story.

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