Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 21
Something Wild November 7, 1986
Something Wild opens

With both downtown New York creative subculture and Wall Street flourishing in the mid-1980s, the collision of straight, hardworking men charismatic, possibly decadent women with bohemian lifestyles was a popular theme. There was Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, John Landis’s Into the Night, and, opening November 7, 1986, Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild. Jeff Daniels plays an uptight banker who cuts loose when he is “kidnapped” on a countercultural joyride with the enjoyably kooky, black-bobbed Lulu (Melanie Griffith). They two wind up playing husband and wife at her high-school reunion (a narrative device that would recur in countless movies following), and Ray Liotta provides some third-act bloodshed with his appearance as Lulu’s ex-con ex. The film is full of cameos from directors (John Sayles, John Waters), downtown scenesters (the designer Adelle Lutz), and musicians (The Feelies). Wrote Dave Kehr for the Chicago Tribune, “It has wit, originality, color, warmth and formal intelligence. It tempers its escapist dash with a touch of darkness, and for all of its playfulness, never departs from a fundamental seriousness.... Something Wild is superbly unpredictable.” The film wasn’t a huge hit — in the States it grossed just over $8 million — but the influence of this ’80 sub-genre exists in both independent and studio film to this day.


More Flashbacks
Rocky November 21, 1976
Rocky premieres

Though Rocky, released November 21, 1976, tells the great underdog story of Rocky Balboa, the tale of how the movie got made is arguably an even more inspirational example of an outsider beating unthinkably long odds.

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November 21, 1944
Harold Ramis born

Harold Ramis, born today in 1944 in Chicago, is the kind of director that Hollywood loves.

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November 21, 1924
Scandal at Sea

On 21 November 1924, Hollywood’s elite, such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford, gathered to bury Thomas Ince, the man who’d practically founded the studio system. After working for years as a silent film actor, he graduated to director, engineering an assembly line procedure that became the prototype for studio productions. Ince put his theories of production into practice in 1912 when he found his own studio “Inceville” –– which later moved to Culver City to become Culver Studios –– and started to churn out western after western. But in November 18, 1924, at the young age of 41, Ince died of acute indigestion on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht Oneida. Or so the death certificate said. But many attending his funeral on November 21 believe something else happened, something Hearst’s absence all but confirmed. The story being whispered about town was that Hearst killed Ince by accident. Believing that Chaplin was having an affair with his mistress Marion Davies on his own yacht, Hearst had taken a shot at a man he believed to be the little tramp, only to discover afterwards that he had fatally shot Ince in the head. The rumors grew so fierce that the San Diego District Attorney was forced to open up an investigation, but by that time there was little evidence to examine, and no one willing to talk. One possible witness, entertainment reporter Louella Parsons, remembered nothing. Of course, immediately after the trip Parsons had coincidently been promoted from Hollywood reporter to nationally syndicated columnist, thus initiating her own dynasty. (The suspected murder was dramatized years later in Peter Bogdanovich’s 2001 drama The Cat’s Meow).

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