Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
May 27
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
Johnny Guitar May 27, 1954
Johnny Guitar released

"Johnny Guitar is a phony Western, but not an ‘intellectual’ one," wrote the French filmmaker and critic François Truffaut about Nicholas Ray’s film, which opened May 27, 1954. "It is… a fairy tale, a hallucinatory Western…. Johnny Guitar is the Beauty and the Beast of Westerns, a Western dream."

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May 27, 1894
Dashiell Hammett born

Though Raymond Chandler overshadowed him ultimately, it was Dashiell Hammett - who was born today in 1894 - who pioneered the hardboiled detective novel as an art form. Unlike Chandler, Hammet never gravitated towards Hollywood to capitalize on the better pay that screenwriting work provided but nevertheless left his mark on the movies.

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