A look back at this day in film history
November 28
October 10, 1985
Orson Welles dies

On this day in 1985, Orson Welles passed away at the age of 70, dying of a heart attack at his home in California. Welles’ death from a cardio pulmonary collapse was not a huge surprise to anyone who had seen around that time; he was massively overweight, and his dinners apparently consisted of two steaks, cooked rare, and a pint of scotch. Welles died at 4:30am, just after having completed an interview with Merv Griffin. Welles was a favorite guest of Griffin’s and had been on his show around 50 times, however on this occasion he especially told Griffin, "For this interview there are no subjects about which I won't speak." Usually reticent to speak about his past, Welles spoke warmly and openly about old friends and lovers, including Rita Hayworth, who Griffin noted had had her last appearance on his show. After the taping, Welles was driven to his favorite restaurant, Ma Maison, and died shortly after returning home. He famously voiced the character of Unicron (“a big toy who attacks a bunch of smaller toys," said Welles) in the cartoon Transformers: The Movie (1986). However his last screen role was in Somebody to Love (released 1987), directed by his friend Henry Jaglom. The movie, in which Welles essentially plays himself, opens with him saying these poignant lines: “You know, the great problem of movies is that they’re always old-fashioned. It takes too long to make a movie. By the time your idea is on the screen, it’s already… dead.”

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.

Read more »
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.

Read more »
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.

Read more »