Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 28
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
Meet Me In St. Louis November 28, 1944
Meet Me in St. Louis opens in Technicolor

Opening November 28, 1944, Vincente Minelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis was one of the most commercially successful pictures of its day.

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November 28, 1938
Michael Ritchie born

Michael Ritchie, one of the most skilled yet underrated Hollywood directors of the 1970s, was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on this day in 1938.

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November 28, 1946
Dante's Divine Comedy of Horrors

In many ways, Joe Dante, born on this day 62 years ago today, is a film director from another age. Dante, a New Jersey native whose parents were golf pros, grew up in 1950s America and continues to embody the ethos of that decade in much of his film work. His influences, for example, include cartoonist Chuck Jones, champion of colorful 50s film comedy Frank Tashlin and B-movie mogul Roger Corman, and it was Corman who first initiated him into the world of movie production after Dante had spent some years as a film critic. Dante first enjoyed success with the Jaws­-inspired creature feature Piranha (1978) which he followed up with the werewolf movie The Howling (1981), another Corman production. Afterwards he graduated to big budget movies, often working for friend Steven Spielberg, and scored with hits like Gremlins (1984) and Innerspace (1987) and also indulged in nostalgic joint exercises like Twilight Zone: The Movie (1982), Amazon Women on the Moon (1987) and episodes of Spielberg’s Amazing Stories TV show. His work has always affectionately looked back on a time when cinema was all about tall tales, monsters, aliens and other such fun excesses of the cinema of bygone years, and Dante tapped into this most directly in Matinee (1993), his film about a William Castle-like producer whose productions thrived on gimmicks and shock tactics. Since the early 1990s, though, Dante has worked mostly in television, where he directed the cult series Eerie, Indiana, only occasionally returning to the big screen for movies like the kid-oriented Small Soldiers (1998) and Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). Now, however, Dante looks set to return to the fore with two projects which will that staple of 50s schlock horror, 3-D technology, which is popular once again 50 years on thanks to its revitalization through digital technology.

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