Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 02
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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December 2, 1945
Penelope Spheeris born

On this day in 1945, director Penelope Spheeris was born in New Orleans.

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December 2, 1988
The Naked Gun Hits Its Target

It is relatively common these days for TV shows to be adapted into movies, but most often those films were based on successful and much-loved – not to mention long-running – series. However, in the case of The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, which was released today in 1988, the movie in question was the spawn of a TV show, Police Squad!, that had been cancelled by ABC in 1982 after only four episodes were aired. The spoof 70s style police show, however, gained cult status on the back of its silly humor, slapstick antics and intentional continuity errors. Indeed, it had such a Lazarus-like recovery to its reputation that its creators, Airplane's Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker, were given the opportunity by Paramount to make a feature about Leslie Nielsen's bumbling cop, Lt. Frank Drebin. Audiences responded enthusiastically to the film's inane antics and ridiculous plotlines and the movie became a massive success, raking in nearly $80m at the box office and spawning two further sequels – also starring Nielsen, and regular co-stars George Kennedy, Priscilla Presley and O.J. Simpson – both of which also were incredibly popular. The third installment, Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, was released in 1994, however the franchise's success is such that Paramount is reportedly considering bringing back the characters for another outing produced by their DTV division (though probably without the involvement of Abrahams, the Zucker brothers or Nielsen).

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