Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 09
October 12, 1966
Shirley Temple resigns from San Francisco Festival

When Mai Zetterling’s Nattlek (Night Games) arrived at the San Francisco Film Festival in 1966, the ex-child star Shirley Temple Black was horrified. This was not the kind of film that she wanted to endorse when she joined the festival’s board in 1964. The third feature form the controversial Swedish actress-turned-director, Night Games was adapted from her own novel about a married couple who return to the groom’s castle to discover a crazy night of orgiastic parties and repressed memories. John Waters later wrote with much admiration, “Zetterling directs with a ludicrously melodramatic, overly gothic sledgehammer to deal with this story of impotence, child masturbation, cross-dressing, porno flicks, and vomiting.” The film certainly arrived in San Francisco with a lot of baggage. At the Venice Film Festival, Night Games was withdrawn from public viewing and could only be watched by the jurors. When the San Francisco Film Festival refused to withdraw the film as Black insisted, she quit in protest, hoping to send a message to other festivals, as well as keep her image clean for her upcoming Congressional run. The film continued to create controversy, much of which was directed at the filmmaker. But Zetterling was oblivious. She once said, “Perhaps I am a mad-hatter Swede…who got lost in the world ... I feel very far from the norm of just about everything."


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December 9, 1973
Don't Look Now released

On December 9, 1978, Nicolas Roeg's iconic Venice-set chiller Don't Look Now went on release in New York City.

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December 9, 1973
Looking at Don't Look Now

When British director Nicolas Roeg’s perverse thriller Don’t Look Now hit American theaters, not everyone was happy. In the New York Times review, Vincent Canby claimed that when this “fragile soap bubble of a horror film” ends, “you may feel, as I did, that you've been had.” Adapted from a Daphne Du Maurier short story, Don’t Look Now previewed many of the director’s upcoming themes—chaotic, realistic sex; disjunctive narrative montages; storylines that collapse the psychological and the supernatural. Here a young couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland), traumatized by the recent drowning of their young daughter, comes to Venice for a working holiday and possible relief from their grief. What they find instead is a mystery lost in the maze of Venice’s back streets and canals and shrouded in the city’s famous fog. And while some find the film’s enigmatic style off-putting, more have found it unforgettable. The sex scene, which was thrown in at the last moment, has become so infamous that for years people have questioned whether it was real or simulated. The film’s fractured shooting style remains a model for how to transform a city into a cinematic character. And the infamous chase of a girl in a red raincoat has been referenced by films as diverse as the torture porn hit Hostel to the comedy In Bruges to James Bond’s Casino Royale to many music videos. 

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