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Today in Move History - March 24


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Just barely getting this one in today!


March 24, 1926 - Renowned German film director G.W. Pabst explores the psychological theories of Dr. Sigmund Freud in his latest screen project, SECRETS OF A SOUL, which premieres in Berlin today. It's the story of a professor who has murderous thoughts when performing innocent actions such as cutting a lock of hair from his wife's head. After a failed attempt to stab his wife, he consults a psychoanalyst. The depiction of the professor's dreams is a fine example of German Expressionist cinema. The effects are achieved by means of multi-layer superimpositions and cut-out figures against blank backgrounds. Pabst co-writes the script with two of Freud's collaborators, the famous Viennese doctor having dealt with a case almost exactly identical to the one depicted in the film.


March 24. 1932 - Leni Riefenstahl, the female lead in four of Arnold Fanck's mountain films, makes her directing debut with THE BLUE LIGHT, released today in Berlin. Of a similar romantic vein as the Fanck films, LIGHT is shot on location and emphasizes a mystical German union with nature. Riefenstahl also stars in the film as a young woman thought to be a witch because she alone in the Dolomite village can reach the top of a dangerous peak. A painter falls in love with her, but (Spoiler Alert!) when he discovers the secret route she's been taking to reach the summit, she leaps to her death. The most noteworthy aspect of the film is the magnificent Alpine cinematography by Hans Schneeberger.


March 24, 1949 - The Oscars are held for the first time at the 950-seat Academy Theater, leading to a chaotically cramped ceremony. Booking a larger venue proved implausible this year after Hollywood's major studios, sensitive to charges they were bringing undue influence to bear on the nominating and voting processes, withdrew all financial support of the event. The semi-disastrous will lead to the resignation of Academy president Jean Hersholt. Nevertheless, co-MC's Robert Montgomery and Ava Gardner keep things moving, and lively musical numbers are performed by Doris Day, Gordon Macrae and Jane Russell. HAMLET, directed by and starring Laurence Olivier, is named Best Picture of 1948, becoming the first non-American film to ever take the top prize (it was distributed in the US by Universal). Though Olivier lost the Best Director race to John Huston for Warner Brothers' THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, the legendary Shakespearean walked away with the Best Actor trophy for playing the title character. Jane Wyman, who early in her career played pert chorus girls, received the Best Actress Oscar for her heartbreaking performance as a deaf-mute farm girl in WB's JOHNNY BELINDA.


March 24, 1966 - ALFIE opens in London, starring Michael Caine as the titular chirpy Cockney philosopher, directed by Lewis Gilbert and adapted from Bill Naughton's play (the film will be distributed in the US by Paramount). Alfie plays merry hell with the women in his life - mournful Vivien Merchant, buxom Shelly Winters and waif-life Jane Asher - but the competition is beginning to catch up with him. Alfie discovers his snappy flannels and bogus regimental blazer mark him out as an old-fashioned sexual predator, losing ground to the dandified young bucks cruising Swinging London. His ultimate humiliation (Spoiler Alert!) comes at the hands of Winters, whom he finds cavorting in bed with a young musician whose guitar, like some giant phallic symbol, is propped up by the door. The 33-year-old Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite in London. He worked as a porter in a Smithfield meat market before acting first on stage, then in television and the movies. Years of bit parts and walk-ons followed before he made his mark in ZULU, although he struggled with his vowels playing an aristocratic officer. He then played Len Deighton's hangdog hero Harry Palmer in THE IPCRESS FILE. Caine's Cockney accent and self-deprecating bewilderment at his own success are symbolic of a newly emerging "classless" Britain.


March 24, 1974 - Terrence Malick, who impressed critics last year with his screenplay for POCKET MONEY, a modern Western directed by Stuart Rosenberg, makes his directorial debut with BADLANDS, released in New York City today by Warner Brothers. The film is based on the true story of a pair of young delinquents who embarked on a killing spree in the US in the '50s. The great spaces of the heartland serve as the backdrop to the doomed rebellion of a simpleminded small town majorette played by Sissy Spacek and a brooding, James Dean lookalike played by Martin Sheen. Malick, a former Rhodes scholar and newspaper reporter, litters the film with the iconography of the period. Despite its disturbing subject matter, most critics find it to be a picture of ravishing beauty.


March 24, 1977 - A Los Angeles grand jury convenes, which will ultimately indict director Roman Polanski on six charges, including rape and having unlawful intercourse with a minor. Polasnki will initially plead not guilty to all charges, but when prosecutors agree to recommended probation if he'll plead guilty to only the uinlawful intercourse charge, he will do so. The judge indicates the other charges will be dropped, but eleven months hence, amid rumors the judge will go his own way and hit Polanski with the maximum possible sentence, he'll board a plane for France only hours before he's supposed to appear in court for sentencing. Since Polanski never appears for sentencing, the other charges are never dropped, and in 2014, he'll still be a wanted fugitive from justice on all six counts in the US. Polanski was arrested two weeks earlier after a mother reported to police that he had sex with her 13-year-old daughter. The director of CHINATOWN has already suffered terrible tragedy in his life - in 1969, his wife, the actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was murdered by the disciples of Charles Manson.




March 24, 1986 - The main talking point at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion after the Oscar ceremony has ended is the film that DIDN'T win - Warner Brothers' THE COLOR PURPLE, directed by Steven Spielberg, which wins not a single award despite 11 nominations. The only other film in Oscar history to receive at least 10 nominations and not win any awards was 1977's THE TURNING POINT from 20th Century Fox. Universal's OUT OF AFRICA also had 11 nominations, and it took eight Oscars, including Best Picture of 1985. Best Director winner Sydney Pollack was hardly a shoo-in among a very strong field of contenders that also included John Huston (PRIZZI'S HONOR, Fox), Akira Kurosawa (RAN, distributed in the US by Orion), Hector Babenco (KISS OF THE SPIDER-WOMAN, distributed in the US by FilmDallas) and Peter Weir (WITNESS, Paramount). There were, however, no acting awards for AFRICA. William Hurt wins Best Actor for his portrayal of an effeminate and ultimately heroic prisoner in SPIDER-WOMAN. Sixty-one-year-old Geraldine Page wins Best Actress for playing a hymn-singing pension-dependent widow in THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL from Island Pictures. It was her eighth nomination. John Huston doesn't win Best Director, but he does get to see his daughter, Anjelica, win Best Supporting Actress for PRIZZI'S, while 77-year-old Don Ameche win Best Supporting Actor for Fox's COCOON.


March 24, 2002 - The 74th annual Academy Awards is a triumphant breakthrough for African-American performers, as Halle Berry becomes the first black person to ever win Best Actress for her performance in MONSTER'S BALL from Lions Gate, while Denzel Washington, previously nominated and passed over twice for Best Actor, finally wins in the category for Warner Brothers' TRAINING DAY. A BEAUTIFUL MIND from Universal, the favorite going in, is named Best Picture of 2001, together with three other Oscars - Best Director for Ron Howard, Best Supporting Actress for Jennifer Connelly and Best Adapted Screenplay for Akiva Goldsman. New Line's THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING wins for Best Special Effects, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup and Best Score. Jim Broadbent is a surprise Best Supporting Actor winner for IRIS, distributed in the US by Miramax. Julian Fellowes wins Best Original Screenplay for GOSFORD PARK from USA Films. The Bosnian war picture NO MAN'S LAND is a surprise winner for Best Foreign Language Film over the favorite, AMELIE, distributed in the US by Miramax. The ceremony, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, features a minute's silence led by Kevin Spacey in memory of those killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks and a montage of NYC films created by Nora Ephron introduced in a surprise appearance by perennial Oscar no-show Woody Allen.

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I like how you are including film trivia from different decades.


For a long time I have been contemplating the creation of a thread that focused solely on premieres and big screen re-releases of classic films, but it remains a dream because: a) it would be a lot of work; and B) some of the dates at the TCM database conflict with dates given on the IMDB and wikipedia so I am not sure if the information I'd consider using would be entirely accurate. I would also like to find information about when certain contracts were signed, but that would probably take many visits to UCLA and even then, I would only find bits and pieces.


So for now, I will have to settle for reading your wonderful thread each day!

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