A look back at this day in film history
May 31
Unfaithfully Yours November 5, 1948
Unfaithfully Yours released

Beginning in 1940, writer-director Preston Sturges, with seven back-to-back critical & commercial hits, had one of the most successful runs of any director in Hollywood history. On November 5, 1948, with the release of Unfaithfully Yours, that streak ended. On opening night, Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck wrote, “The opening day’s business…was almost the worst in the entire history of the house, certainly the lowest we have had in many years.” Sturges’ sudden plummet was certainly not from reviews. The New York Daily News praised the film as “an adroit, literate light piece that builds from a familiar base to highbrow farce comedy.” And the New York Times’s Bosley Crowther begin his review: “It is too bad that Preston Sturges is not compelled by law to turn out at least one movie—maybe two—a year. For nobody makes films as he does, even when he makes them less well, which means that his public grows impatient and resentful when he tarries too long.” The film, which was originally conceived of in 1932 (and pitched to Ernest Lubitsch at one time), had its own opening day delayed due to a potential scandal. The story about a symphony conductor, Alfred de Carter (Rex Harrison), who, while performing three different musical numbers, fantasizes about murdering his unfaithful wife, rang a little too close to home when Carole Landis, the woman with whom Harrison was having an affair, was found dead by the actor on July 4, 1948. The ensuing scandal pushed 20th Century Fox president Spyros Skouras to suggest adding subtitles to indicate that the murder on screen was pure fantasy. But by the time of the film’s release, the story had all but disappeared from newspaper headlines. Unfortunately, the film also quickly disappeared from theaters, and proved the beginning of the end for Sturges’ career.

More Flashbacks
Clint Eastwood May 31, 1930
Clint Eastwood born

Clint Eastwood, born May 31, 1930, may be the last icon left in American cinema. Now entering his eighties, Eastwood's continued high estimation among both critics and audiences centers around a fascinating duality.

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May 31, 1917
Jean Rouch born

Ethnographer, composer and filmmaker Jean Rouch, a pioneer in the French New Wave, cinéma vérité, and the Nigerian film movement, was born on May 31, 1917. A former civil engineer who worked in Africa in the early 1940s, Rouche's cinematic immersion in the continent (and, specifically, the country of Nigeria) spanned four decades and 120 films, ranging from short works detailing the spirit rituals of the Nigerian fisherman to full-length features made in collaboration with African crews, actors and co-writers.

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