Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 23
November 13, 1967
Polanski's Fearless Vampire Killers Unleashed

Roman Polanski showed a lighter – and more colorful side – to his filmmaking when a film with multiple identities, The Fearless Vampire Killers (aka The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck) was released in the U.S. Coming straight off the huge success of his three first films, Knife in the Water, Repulsion and Cul de Sac, Polanski was making his first film for an American studio, was shooting in color for the first time, and was making his most lighthearted movie so far. Fearless Vampire Killers was, as the title hinted, a horror comedy and starred Jack MacGowran and Polanski himself as the titular characters who head for Transylvania looking for neckbiting daysleepers. However the film, shot under the title Dance of the Vampires, was not intended to be the farce which it was sold to audiences as by MGM. Even worse, the studio actually radically recut the movie from Polanski’s initial version released in Europe – which is described by DVD Savant’s Glenn Erickson as a "unique blend of fairytale beauty, sly comedy and baleful horror" – and even added in a cartoon prologue, and made the lion logo into a hastily scribbled vampire. Polanski understandably disowned the movie, but would maybe have been more angered by MGM’s meddling had he not been in the first throes of a love affair with his Fearless romantic interest, Sharon Tate. Fortunately, in 1979, the original version became the accepted cut of the film and the butchered version is now relatively difficult to see.


More Flashbacks
Kinski November 23, 1991
Klaus Kinski dies

When it came time for his longtime collaborator, Werner Herzog, to make a movie about his relationship with the brilliant and mad actor Klaus Kinski, he titled it My Best Fiend

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November 23, 1995
Louis Malle dies

The great French film director Louis Malle passed away on this day in 1995 after a battle with lymphoma, leaving behind his wife, actress Candice Bergen, and their child together, Chloe Malle.

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November 23, 1990
Klaus Kinski Dies

Klaus Kinski, one of the most fearsome, intense and memorable stars of the cinema, fought his last battle 17 years ago this week. Born Nikolaus Karl Günther Nakszyński in 1926 in what is now Poland, Kinski will forever be best remembered as Werner Herzog's foe and frequent collaborator: together Herzog and Kinski made five films together, Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Woyzeck (1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and Cobra Verde (1987). That they made so many is miraculous as Kinski was infamously belligerent and had a relationship with Herzog (fascinatingly chronicled in the documentary My Best Fiend) which was tense at best, and all out war at worst. Married three times, Kinski was the father of actress Nastassja Kinski and –– according to his sensationalist autobiography, Kinski: All I Need Is Love –– four other children. A year after completing Kinski Paganini (1989), a film Kinski wrote, directed and starred in about the Italian composer (with whom he supposedly felt a demonic kinship), Kinski succumbed to a heart attack at his home in Lagunitas, California, aged just 65.

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