A look back at this day in film history
November 28
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
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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