Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 27
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
Johnny Guitar May 27, 1954
Johnny Guitar released

"Johnny Guitar is a phony Western, but not an ‘intellectual’ one," wrote the French filmmaker and critic François Truffaut about Nicholas Ray’s film, which opened May 27, 1954. "It is… a fairy tale, a hallucinatory Western…. Johnny Guitar is the Beauty and the Beast of Westerns, a Western dream."

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May 27, 1894
Dashiell Hammett born

Though Raymond Chandler overshadowed him ultimately, it was Dashiell Hammett - who was born today in 1894 - who pioneered the hardboiled detective novel as an art form. Unlike Chandler, Hammet never gravitated towards Hollywood to capitalize on the better pay that screenwriting work provided but nevertheless left his mark on the movies.

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