Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 01
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.


More Flashbacks
December 1, 1935
Woody Allen Born

In 1935, Nettie and Martin Konigsberg welcomed their new son Allen Stewart into the world. Second generation German Jewish emigrants, the family moved from the lower East Side to Brooklyn where Nettie worked as a bookkeeper and Martin as an engraver and waiter.

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December 1, 1983
Scarface Returns

It was nippy New York City winter night when such stars as Melanie Griffith, Raquel Welch, Cher, Lucille Ball, and Eddie Murphy came out for the premiere of Scarface. Dedicated to Ben Hecht and Howard Hawks, Brian De Palma’s film updated those two men’s 1932 movie about a megalomaniacal Chicago gangster (aka Al Capone) into a nightmarish spin on the American dream as a Cuban exile rises to take over the illegal drug trade in Miami. Producer Martin Bregman had imagined the remake in early 1980 as star vehicle for Al Pacino. Bergman hired Oliver Stone (who was himself dealing with a cocaine addiction at the time) to write the script. When De Palma read it, he dropped out of directing Flashdance to take over the production. He wanted to rewrite the rules of noir with this film. Instead of the dark, rain-soaked streets of early gangster films, De Palma shot the violence under the bright, unapologetic South Florida sunshine––although in truth the film production took place in Los Angeles. When it came out, the film was not the runaway hit that everyone had hoped for. Critics were lukewarm, and box office was respectable but not boffo. Overtime, however, the film became a phenomenon all its own. Adopted by Latino and African-American youth as the patron saint of crime, Scarface became an icon. His catchphrases, like “say ‘elllo to my little friend,” graced t-shirts, bumper stickers, tennis shoes, cups and posters. His story was reincarnated in video games, rap lyrics and a short-lived TV show. His spirit continues to speak to generation after generation of outsiders looking in on the American dream from the ghetto or beyond the border. As Ken Tucker, the author of Scarface Nation puts it, “Scarface absorbs ridicule and overexposure and just keeps on going."

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