A look back at this day in film history
November 19
Tony Richardson November 14, 1991
Tony Richardson dies

By the time of his death in 1991, Tony Richardson was perhaps as well-known for being the one-time husband of Vanessa Redgrave and the father of Natasha Richardson as he was for being an Academy Award-winning film director. Indeed some tabloids focused on the manner of his death, that being from AIDS at age 63, by slinging out headlines like “Secret Shame,” rather than highlighting the depth of his achievement in life. The only son of a chemist, Richardson was not raised in a theatrical family. But in high school, and then later at Oxford, he found in a drama a natural outlet for his talents. His unique productions in college gained him a position at the BBC, which pushed him in the direction of television and films. From the start, Richardson had a knack for channeling the creative zeitgeist of his times. In the mid fifties, he helped form the Free Cinema movement with Sight and Sound editors (and later filmmakers) Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz, after which he connected with the Angry Young Men school of drama, working closely with playwright John Osborne on the films Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer. Later, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and A Taste of Honey were held up as examples of the tough social realism of the Kitchen Sink school. But just as Richardson became known for presenting a raw, unflinching look at contemporary Britain, he made Tom Jones, a sexy, colorful adaptation of Henry Fielding’s great 18th century comic novel, for which he received a best director Oscar, while the film won Best Picture. Richardson’s work––36 stage plays, 20 films and 44 television drama––continued to defy expectation, even up to his last film, a surprising military drama called Blue Sky (with Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange), which was released several years after his death.

More Flashbacks
Jodie Foster November 19, 1962
Jodie Foster born

Born November 19, 1962, Jodie Foster is no stranger to controversy.

Read more »
November 19, 1998
Alan J. Pakula dies

One of the quiet men of Hollywood, Alan J. Pakula, tragically died in a road accident on this day in 1998.

Read more »
November 19, 1995
Toy R Us

Every year or two, audiences can count on a well-crafted, richly imaginative family entertainment from Pixar Studios, but on November 19, 1995, betting on the company’s computer-animated films wasn’t such a sure thing. On that day, the company’s first feature, Toy Story, the debut movie from writer-director John Lasseter, premiered in Hollywood, and it was the end of a strange and sometimes bumpy road. Pixar had its origins in 1979 as a division of George Lucas’s Lucasfilm devoted to the development of new software that would enable traditional animators to transition to 3D computer animation. Lucas sold the division for $5 million in 1986 to Steve Jobs, who had recently left Apple Computer, the company he founded (and would later return to). Under Jobs, Pixar shifted its focus towards building and selling a computer, the $135,000 Pixar Image Computer, mostly to non-film industry buyers like the U.S. government and medical research companies. But with sales slow, employee John Lasseter began to use the company’s technology to create TV commercials as well as a short film, Luxo Jr. The short, about father and son desk lamps, won an Academy Award in 1986 and lead to a three-picture deal with Walt Disney Studios. With that deal, Pixar firmly shifted its focus to moviemaking, and Lasseter began the screenplay that would become Toy Story. But soon, obstacles arose. Disney execs halted production on the film after 10 months, arguing that one of its characters, a toy cowboy named Woody, was too abrasive. Lassetter enrolled in a screenwriting course and, six months later, had retooled the script to Disney’s approval. All of the company’s work paid off on opening weekend when Toy Story opened to rapturous reviews and a box-office gross of $39.1 million, instantly recouping its $15 million production budget. And, ten years later, the company, that had created the best recognized animation brand since Disney, was bought by the Walt Disney Company itself for $7.4 billion in Disney stock.

Read more »