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Today in Movie History - March 21


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March 21, 1915 - At a special ceremony, actress Laura Oakley, the "chief of police" designate for Universal City in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California,, the only city in the world built exclusively for the purpose of motion picture production, presents the key to the city to Carl Laemmele, the president of Universal Manufacturing Corp. Laemmele came to America 30 years ago from Germany at the age of 17, has inaugurated an ensemble of prestigious studios on the 230-acre Taylor Ranch across the Cahuenga Pass. Among the stars he has under contract are Francis Ford and Lon Chaney.


March 21, 1930 - The release of G.W. Pabst's German-made-film PANDORA'S BOX today in Paris draws critical derision for the re-edited version shown to French audiences. In the 1929 adaptation of the Franz Wedekind play LULU, 22-year-old American actress Louise Brooks, with 13 Hollywood films to her credit, plays a nymphomaniac who blithely leaves havoc in her wake. To meet French censorship standards, however, the film is altered so that (Spoiler Alert!) Lulu isn't found guilty at her manslaughter trial and also isn't killed by Jack the Ripper in the end, but instead joins the Salvation Army.


March 21, 1937 - Alexander Korda decides to abandon I, CLAUDIUS with only 20 minutes of filming completed. This adaptation of Robert Graves' was being directed by Josef von Sternberg with Charles Laughton and Merle Oberon in the lead roles. Korda, already alarmed by conflicts between the obsessive perfectionist von Sternberg and his leading man and by von Sternberg's disregard for the budget, makes his decision after Oberon is in a serious car crash, which would further delay production.


March 21, 1994 - After 20 years of trying, Steven Spielberg finally wins a Best Director Oscar for Universal's SCHINDLER'S LIST, which is also named the Best Picture of 1993. The awards came as a surprise to almost no one, as the 185-minute black-and-white Holocaust drama was one of the heaviest favorites in Oscar history. SCHINDLER'S LIST garners another five awards: for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Score (by longtime Spielberg collaborator John Williams). The story of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved more than a thousand Jews from the gas chambers, had long been considered a virtually impossible film project. The acting awards go to other films: Tom Hanks wins Best Actor for Tri-Star's PHILADELPHIA, while Tommy Lee Jones is named Best Supporting Actor for THE FUGITIVE from Warner Brothers. The winners in the female acting categories both come from the same film, Miramax's THE PIANO: Holly Hunter wins Best Actress and 11-year-old Anna Paquin Best Supporting Actress.


March 21, 2003 - The newest film adaptation of a Stephen King novel opens today. In Warner Brothers' DREAMCATCHER, adapted by veteran screenwriter William Goldman and directed by Lawrence Kasdan, four friends who have experienced a psychic bond since childhood reunite for a camping trip in the woods of Maine, where they encounter a terrifying alien force hiding within a storm.

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