A look back at this day in film history
November 30
Sigourney Weaver October 8, 1949
Sigourney Weaver Born

Weaver was born Susan Alexander Weaver in New York City on October 8, 1949 into a true entertainment family. Her mother was an English-born actress and her father, a TV executive, was at one time the president of NBC. Despite growing up among affluence and privilege, she remained a very private person. After her family moved to San Francisco, she asked to be sent back East to attend the prestigious Ethel Walker school in Simsbury, Connecticut. A voracious reader and remarkably bright, Weaver was often ostracized because of her height and reserved behavior. Desiring a new identity, she renamed herself Sigourney after a character in The Great Gatsby. She later commented, “To my ear, Sigourney was a stage name…long and curvy." To go with her stage name, she needed an acting career. While she started performing in high school, she ended up studying English literature at Stanford University, reserving her dramatic urges to off-campus, local productions. But after college, she turned whole-heartedly to the stage, enrolling in the Yale School of Drama, where she competed with her classmate Meryl Streep for parts. Despite her beauty, grace and intelligence, Weaver had a hard time getting cast since many directors and casting agents considered her too tall. In 1978, nearly 30 years old, her career seemed to be going nowhere when she received a call to meet producer Walter Hill about a sci-fi thriller. She recalls that the thought of playing opposite a “blob of yellow jelly" was so unappealing that "I didn't want to play this awful part in this awful movie.” But the part of Lt. Ellen Ripley in the film ALIEN changed her life. In 1986, she would receive her first Oscar nomination for that film’s sequel ALIENS. Indeed from being un-castable, Weaver went on to deliver remarkable performances in both comedies, like GHOSTBUSTERS and WORKING GIRL, and serious dramas, like THE ICE STORM and THE GUYS.

More Flashbacks
Boy with Green Hair November 30, 1948
The Boy with Green Hair opens

The opening of the pacifist parable The Boy with Green Hair should be celebrated as the feature directorial debut of Joseph Losey.

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November 30, 1947
Ernst Lubitsch dies

On Sunday November 30, 1947, director Ernst Lubitsch was due at William Wyler’s home for an afternoon screening party.

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November 30, 1945
Noir Takes a Detour

In a time in which CGI and other advanced film technologies create worlds that are more lifelike than life itself, the grungy, low-rent charms of Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour, which opened on November 20, 1945, should not be forgotten. Shot in less than one week on a few simple sets and using obvious rear-screen projection for all the driving scenes, the movie is, as Robert Ebert wrote, “so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school.” But despite its many technical flaws, the film is a film noir classic. Its indigent aesthetic amplifies rather than detracts from its bleak tale of blackmail and remorselessness. And, as the femme fatale, Ann Savage created perhaps the perfect noir heroine. “There is not a single fleeting shred of tenderness or humanity in her performance,” Ebert wrote.

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