Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 25
Louis Malle October 31, 1932
Louis Malle born

The great French director Louis Malle was born October 30, 1932. Coming of movie-making age alongside the New Wave directors, Malle was never formally associated with that movement and, perhaps, was never treated as a boundary-breaking director. But he still created a number of sensuous and sometimes controversial works that were some of the best French films of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Crossing from documentary to fiction, occasionally drawing from the world of theater, and refusing to be bound by the “French system” by venturing into Hollywood, Malle was an elegant storyteller whose works usually featured indelible characters and strong emotions. Malle’s first film was as co-director with Jacques Cousteau of The Silent World, an undersea documentary that was the first non-fiction film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. His first fiction film was Elevator to the Gallows, a terse crime pic with a moody Miles Davis score. Also in 1958 was the hugely successful Les Amants, starring Jeanne Moreau in a tale of adultery. In 1971, he made Murmur of the Heart, which featured mother/son incest, and in 1978 he made, in the States, Pretty Baby, starring a young Brooke Shields as child prostitute in 1917 New Orleans. Because of all these films, Malle was often thought of as a director who tackled controversial themes, but his best films were simpler human dramas where his skill for casting and directing actors could shine. In Atlantic City, for example, Susan Sarandon played a down-on-her-heels woman struggling to remake herself as a croupier in Atlantic City who befriends an aging numbers runner, Lou, played by Burt Lancaster. Wrote Roger Ebert, “What's interesting, even with a seemingly commercial project like Atlantic City, is how resolutely [Malle] stayed with the human dimension of his story and let the drug plot supply an almost casual background.” Malle died in November 23, 1995, of lymphoma.


More Flashbacks
The Crying Game November 25, 1992
The Crying Game released

“Yo, the chick’s a dude!” –– those words, shouted outside a movie theater on November 25, 1992, would most likely have earned you a punch in the nose from a ticket buyer standing in line to see Neil Jordan’s sly psychosexual drama The Crying Game.

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November 25, 2005
Pat Morita dies

On this day in 2005, the man best known as The Karate Kid’s sage sensei Mr. Miyagi, Pat Morita, died.

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November 25, 1973
Laurence Harvey Dies

By the time Laurence Harvey died of stomach cancer on November, 25 1973, his actual life proved easily as strange and quirky as the characters he played. Born in 1928 Zvi Mosheh (Hirsh) Skikne to a Jewish family in Lithuania, Harvey quickly reinvented himself at the age of five when his family moved to South Africa, where he took the name Harry. After working as an entertainer in the South African army, Harvey moved to London, changing his first name to Laurence and swapping out his family name for Harvey (supposedly taken from the sherry “Harvey’s Bristol Cream”). Harvey quickly rose up through the British film world, playing a range of side characters, then moving to Hollywood and Broadway where he gained a reputation for creating quirky, nervous eccentric, often emotionally cold men (often who were never quite what they seemed). His most famous role was as the brainwashed soldier in John Frankenheimer’s 1962 The Manchurian Candidate. While known to be privately gay, Harvey went through a number of high-profile marriages, often with women considerably older than himself. In 1968, for example, he married his second wife, Joan Perry Cohn, the widow of Columbia Picture’s master Harry Cohn. In 1969, his affair with Paulene Stone led to his one daughter, a divorce from Cohn, and, in 1972, a marriage to Stone. His daughter Domino Harvey went on to fame all her own as the bounty hunter whose life was dramatized by Keira Knightley in the 2005 thriller Domino. By the time he died in 1973, his career was in decline and his health had deteriorated by years of heavy drinking, and yet he was still trying on new identities. His last film, Welcome to Arrow Beach, which came out after his death, marked his third venture as a director as well as star.

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