Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 25
Children of Paradise November 15, 1945
The Children of Paradise opens

While Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise opened in New York City in November, 1945, just months after World War II was officially over, the film was forged in the cauldron of the war. Supposedly the film had its origins in 1942, when director Carné and poet and writer Jacques Prévert ran into an old friend, the actor Jean-Louis Barrault, in the south of France. Over drinks, Barrault recounted the anecdote of the great 19th century mime Jean-Baptiste Gaspard Debureau, who killed a man who’d accosted his date. His subsequent trial for murder became a Parisian sensation, not so much because of the crime, but because hundreds of fans wanted to hear the famous mime speak. While the filmmakers let go of the particulars, they grew attached to the period and the people who made up the theater world back then. At the same time, due to Nazi occupation, it was near impossible for the filmmakers to create any work on contemporary subjects. Shooting commenced in August 1943 in France, and continued through the last years of war. Initially shot in Cannes, the film was called back to Paris by the Nazis. The production was subsequently shut down when it was discovered that one of the producers had Jewish ancestry. One actor was arrested on set for being a member of the resistance. Later, another actor had to flee when it was discovered he’d worked as a Nazi collaborator. But the story, set in early 19th century of Paris, has nothing to do with war. The story recounts how four men (Jean-Gaspard Debureau, Frédérick Lemaître, Pierre-Francois Lacenaire, and Count De Montrary) vie for the heart of the same mysterious beauty, Garance. Each of the main characters was based on real historical figures. The mime, Debureau, revolutionized that field of drama during the period. Lemaître was one of the most celebrated actors of his time. And Lacenaire was a poet who became more famous when he was arrested for murder. When the film came out, nearly every critic jumped up to explain how this drama of 19th century theater people was really about the Nazi occupation of France. In any case, the film remains essential to French culture. It has regularly been chosen by the French as the greatest French film of all time.


More Flashbacks
The Crying Game November 25, 1992
The Crying Game released

“Yo, the chick’s a dude!” –– those words, shouted outside a movie theater on November 25, 1992, would most likely have earned you a punch in the nose from a ticket buyer standing in line to see Neil Jordan’s sly psychosexual drama The Crying Game.

Read more »
November 25, 2005
Pat Morita dies

On this day in 2005, the man best known as The Karate Kid’s sage sensei Mr. Miyagi, Pat Morita, died.

Read more »
November 25, 1973
Laurence Harvey Dies

By the time Laurence Harvey died of stomach cancer on November, 25 1973, his actual life proved easily as strange and quirky as the characters he played. Born in 1928 Zvi Mosheh (Hirsh) Skikne to a Jewish family in Lithuania, Harvey quickly reinvented himself at the age of five when his family moved to South Africa, where he took the name Harry. After working as an entertainer in the South African army, Harvey moved to London, changing his first name to Laurence and swapping out his family name for Harvey (supposedly taken from the sherry “Harvey’s Bristol Cream”). Harvey quickly rose up through the British film world, playing a range of side characters, then moving to Hollywood and Broadway where he gained a reputation for creating quirky, nervous eccentric, often emotionally cold men (often who were never quite what they seemed). His most famous role was as the brainwashed soldier in John Frankenheimer’s 1962 The Manchurian Candidate. While known to be privately gay, Harvey went through a number of high-profile marriages, often with women considerably older than himself. In 1968, for example, he married his second wife, Joan Perry Cohn, the widow of Columbia Picture’s master Harry Cohn. In 1969, his affair with Paulene Stone led to his one daughter, a divorce from Cohn, and, in 1972, a marriage to Stone. His daughter Domino Harvey went on to fame all her own as the bounty hunter whose life was dramatized by Keira Knightley in the 2005 thriller Domino. By the time he died in 1973, his career was in decline and his health had deteriorated by years of heavy drinking, and yet he was still trying on new identities. His last film, Welcome to Arrow Beach, which came out after his death, marked his third venture as a director as well as star.

Read more »