Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 07
Todd Solondz October 15, 1959
Todd Solondz born

As Todd Solondz enters production on his seventh feature film, we’ll stop and take note of his birthday (October 15, 1959) as well as his position as one of American independent film’s enduring and most instantly recognizable voices. Queasily mixing comedy and drama, satire and social critique, Solondz has made a career out of movies populated by the estranged, by people who, for whatever reason, don’t fit into polite company. In Welcome to the Dollhouse, that character was Dawn Weiner, a bullied, unpopular, and socially awkward girl who finds approval in a classmate’s threats of rape. With Happiness, Solondz began to explore interlocking, multi-character stories, this time including everyone from a pedophile to an obscene phone caller. In Palindromes, the different segments of the story each featured a different actress portraying the same protagonist, the 12-year-old Aviva. And in his recent Life During Wartime, Solondz revisited the characters of Happiness, but this time radically recast them as entirely different actors. Little is known about the plot of Dark Horse, but Solondz told The Playlist that he’s gotten major agency support for the first time due to its lighter tone. “And you know CAA?” he said. “It's funny, it's the first time they actually like one of my scripts and I realized [in Dark Horse], there's no rape, there's no child molestation, there's no masturbation, and then I thought, ‘oh m god, why didn't I think of this years ago?'"


More Flashbacks
December 7, 1960
Village of the Damned released

In the winter of 1960, a new vision of horror came to American cinemas from Britain. The Village of the Damned tells the story of a small English village in which all the women are mysteriously pregnant.

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December 7, 1949
Tom Waits For No Man

Thomas Alan Waits was born in Pomona, California, on this day, 59 years ago. The name Tom Waits is, of course, primarily associated with music: Waits is a distinctive, gravely-voiced singer-songwriter who has made classic albums like Rain Dogs and Blue Valentine and has been a force on the American music scene since the 1970s. Waits, though, with his rasping tones and rough-hewn features is also a casting director’s dream and has been involved in film almost as long as he has in music. Bizarrely, it was Sylvester Stallone who first put him on screen in his directorial debut, Paradise Alley, as a piano player called Mumbles, though Waits subsequently drew attention from somewhat more distinguished helmers. The first of these was Francis Ford Coppola, who cast Waits in four consecutive movies (One From the Heart, The Outsiders, Rumblefish and The Cotton Club) and also had Waits score One From the Heart, for which he received an Oscar nod. His other great relationship has been with director Jim Jarmusch, who also initiated Waits into his exclusive Sons of Lee Marvin club; Jarmusch first utilized Waits in Down by Law in 1986 and has since used his musical or thespian talents in Mystery Train, Night on Earth and Coffee and Cigarettes. Appealing to auteurs with an eye for idiosyncratic, Waits has also appeared twice in Terry Gilliam and Hector Babenco productions and had memorable roles in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts (opposite Lily Tomlin) and 2007’s Wristcutters: A Love Story.

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