A look back at this day in film history
November 29
Thomas Ince November 6, 1886
Thomas Ince born

Born into a stage family in Newport, Rhode Island, Thomas Harper Ince would grow up to be known as the “Father of the Western.” At the age of 15, Ince made his Broadway debut. But despite his theatrical blood, and performing in a number of plays and vaudeville shows, Ince could never make his acting career pay off. Instead, he turned to the new medium of film. By 1910, he was directing one-reelers. And by 1911, he’d convinced the New York Motion Picture Co. to send him to California. In Los Angeles, Ince’s ambition blossomed. He leased land close to Santa Monica, and hired a wild west traveling show to set up a makeshift studio making westerns and historical epics. In the next few years, he consolidated this venture into Inceville, a prototype for later Hollywood studios. In the process, he also redefined his role from director to creative producer, dictating what projects would be made and with what director and talent. As the studio grew, Ince instituted assembly line principles to the film production, breaking up the making of a film into various departments (writing, costuming, shooting, editing, etc). By 1915, Ince had sold Inceville and formed Triangle Pictures, a vertically integrated company that would handle production, distribution and exhibition, a move that again foreshadowed the future of motion pictures. Constantly changing, Ince personified the potential of this new industry. A contract player, Florence Vidor, later remembered, “One could not meet Thomas H. Ince in his studio without seeing that here was a great dynamic personality, having the brightest blue eyes, ready smile and charming manner; always interested in everything––perhaps the secret of his youthfulness.” In the end, however, Ince is perhaps as well known––if not better––for dying at the age of 42 under mysterious circumstance on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht.

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Jorge Muller and Carmen Bueno November 29, 1974
Carmen Bueno and Jorge Muller arrested

On Friday, November 29, 25-year-old film actress Carmen Bueno and 27 year-old cameraman Jorge Muller were working a documentary for the Peace Committee of the Chilean Churches when a dark car pulled beside them, shoved them in the back seat, and tore off.

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November 29, 1981
Natalie Wood dies

Hollywood legend Natalie Wood died November 29, 1981, at the age of 43. Wood first impressed audiences at the age 9 when she appeared in two Hollywood films: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and, most famously, Miracle on 34th St.

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November 29, 1945
Wilder's Lost Weekend

In 1945 Billy Wilder followed his hit film Double Indemnity, co-written with Raymond Chandler, with what was, for its era, a bold and startling movie––The Lost Weekend. “How daring can the screen dare to be?” asked the marketing materials, as Wilder and star Ray Milland chronicled a frustrated writer’s four-day drinking binge with the same expressionistic lighting and camera that Wilder previously used to depict noir obsession and betrayal. The film won four Oscars, including Best Actor, Director and Screenplay, surprising those who argued, pre-release, that the film was too shocking for theater audiences. Also, the alcohol industry lobbied Paramount Pictures against releasing the film (Wilder claimed Paramount was offered $5 million to shelve the picture) while temperance groups fought against it too, feeling that the pic glamorized drinking.  But there were still some aspects of its story that the filmmakers avoided. In the Charles Jackson novel on which the film is based, Milland’s character is driven to drink by the shame of a homosexual affair. In the film, his alcoholism is “explained” by a case of writer’s block.

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