Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 27
October 10, 1909
The First Times

When readers opened their Sunday New York Times to page 8 on 10 October 1909, they found a review of Pippa Passes, the new D. W. Griffith film loosely based on Robert Browning’s 1841 poem. The column began “Pippa Passes is being given in the nickelodeons and Browning is being presented to the average motion picture audience, which has received it with applause and is asking for more.” What made such a mundane observation memorable is that this was the Times first film review. Much like Griffith’s later epic, Intolerance, Pippa Passes is broken into four parts, each designating a time of the day with special lighting effects signaling dawn or dusk. A young Gertrude Robinson played the lead, beating out newcomer Mary Pickford, who at 16 Griffith considered too old.


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Johnny Guitar May 27, 1954
Johnny Guitar released

"Johnny Guitar is a phony Western, but not an ‘intellectual’ one," wrote the French filmmaker and critic François Truffaut about Nicholas Ray’s film, which opened May 27, 1954. "It is… a fairy tale, a hallucinatory Western…. Johnny Guitar is the Beauty and the Beast of Westerns, a Western dream."

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May 27, 1894
Dashiell Hammett born

Though Raymond Chandler overshadowed him ultimately, it was Dashiell Hammett - who was born today in 1894 - who pioneered the hardboiled detective novel as an art form. Unlike Chandler, Hammet never gravitated towards Hollywood to capitalize on the better pay that screenwriting work provided but nevertheless left his mark on the movies.

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