Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 04
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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Five Graves to Cairo May 4, 1943
Five Graves to Cairo opens

After the success of his directorial debut with The Major and The Minor, writer-director Billy Wilder was given a bit of freedom in choosing his next film.

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May 4, 1972
Play It Again, Sam plays

Today in 1972, Woody Allen got romantic advice from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart in yet another film that confirmed the bespectacled neurotic as an unlikely rising star. Play It Again, Sam, based on a play by Allen and originally called Aspirin for Three, was, in some senses, the most straightforwardly commercial film of Allen’s career so far.

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