Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 04
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.


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Five Graves to Cairo May 4, 1943
Five Graves to Cairo opens

After the success of his directorial debut with The Major and The Minor, writer-director Billy Wilder was given a bit of freedom in choosing his next film.

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May 4, 1972
Play It Again, Sam plays

Today in 1972, Woody Allen got romantic advice from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart in yet another film that confirmed the bespectacled neurotic as an unlikely rising star. Play It Again, Sam, based on a play by Allen and originally called Aspirin for Three, was, in some senses, the most straightforwardly commercial film of Allen’s career so far.

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