Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
October 6, 1927
Jolson’s Jazz Singer breaks the movie sound barrier

It is not hyperbole to say that The Jazz Singer, released 80 years ago today, changed everything. The legendary All Jolson movie was the original “talkie,” with the newly developed Vitaphone sound system piping songs and dialogue into theater auditoriums for the very first time. Jolson’s words, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain't heard nothin' yet!,” were the first in spoken in movie history — but with a lot of audiences, they really hadn’t heard anything yet. The Jazz Singer was a major success and one of the biggest films of 1927, but was not the overwhelming smash hit it could have been because most movie theaters outside of the major cities had not yet installed sound systems. It was not until 1928 that movie lovers throughout the country got to hear — rather than just see — what all the fuss was about.


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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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