Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
November 20
Twilight Zone October 6, 1982
Twilight Zone helicopter death culprits fined

On this day in 1982, fines were handed out to John Landis’ Levitsky Prods and Western Helicopter Inc., the two companies implicated in the death of actor Vic Morrow and two child extras while filming Twilight Zone: The Movie. The film was a four-part compendium and it was while Landis was shooting his segment, “Time Out,’ that the tragic and gruesome deaths occurred. Morrow, a veteran actor, was the lead in Landis’ section, in which his bigoted character is forced to get a taste of the lives of the individuals he hates. In one scene, he experiences what it was like to be a Vietnamese father under attack from the U.S. during the Vietnam war. Landis had created a Vietnamese village in Valencia, CA, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles, and in the early hours of the morning on July 23, 1982, was filming a scene where Morrow waded across a river, carrying 6-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen and 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le, while there were helicopters overhead and numerous explosions around him. Tragedy occurred when debris from one of the explosions hit the tail rotor of one of the helicopters, causing it to crash on top of Morrow, who was decapitated, and the young actors. The accident prompted legal action that lasted until 1987, and resulted in much tighter regulations regarding stunts and the employment of child actors.


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Robert Altman November 20, 2006
Robert Altman dies

On this day in 2006, the legendary film director Robert Altman passed away at the age of 81 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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Nov. 20, 1992
Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant opens

The unlikeliest franchise was born on November 20, 1992, when Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant opened in New York City. Produced by Ed Pressman, written by Zoe Lund and Paul Calderon, and starring Harvey Keitel, Bad Lieutenant boldly yoked a tale of a distraught Catholic cop seeking redemption by pursuing the rapists of a nun to a sordid, walk-on-the-wild side panorama of downtown New York in the early '90s.

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November 20, 1981
Ragtime Starts Up

Released on November 20, 1981, Milos Forman's Ragtime presented a sweeping picture of America at the beginning of the 20th century. While based on E.L. Doctorow’s sprawling novel, the film centers on the story of Coalhouse Walker Jr (Howard E. Rollins Jr.), a young black pianist who fights to have his honor restored after being abused by racist volunteer firemen. For Forman, the film’s story of oppression connected to his own struggle in Communist Czechoslovakia. For others, the story was a reflection of America’s own new Gilded Age, especially as the holiday season approached. But all saw the 155-minute spectacle, with a massive cast that included actors and celebrities like James Cagney, Donald O’Connor, Pat O’Brien, Elizabeth McGovern, Norman Mailer, Mandy Patinkin, and many more, as a movie event. It took an impressive $17 million and was nominated for 8 Academy Awards, and even spawned a Broadway musical; today, however, Ragtime, a historical epic to remind of past excesses, has sadly been all but forgotten.

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