Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 31
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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Clint Eastwood May 31, 1930
Clint Eastwood born

Clint Eastwood, born May 31, 1930, may be the last icon left in American cinema. Now entering his eighties, Eastwood's continued high estimation among both critics and audiences centers around a fascinating duality.

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May 31, 1917
Jean Rouch born

Ethnographer, composer and filmmaker Jean Rouch, a pioneer in the French New Wave, cinéma vérité, and the Nigerian film movement, was born on May 31, 1917. A former civil engineer who worked in Africa in the early 1940s, Rouche's cinematic immersion in the continent (and, specifically, the country of Nigeria) spanned four decades and 120 films, ranging from short works detailing the spirit rituals of the Nigerian fisherman to full-length features made in collaboration with African crews, actors and co-writers.

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