Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Festivus is in Three Days

Remember stores will be packed with last minute shoppers,

clawing their way through the remaining unadorned aluminum pole displays.

December 20, 1946 -
The Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life had a preview showing for charity at New York City's Globe Theatre, a day before its official premiere.

As Uncle Billy drunkenly leaves the Bailey home, it sounds as if he stumbles into some trash cans on the sidewalk. In fact, a crew member dropped a large tray of props right after actor Thomas Mitchell went off-screen. In reaction, James Stewart began laughing and Mitchell quickly improvised "I'm alright, I'm okay!". Director Frank Capra decided to use this take in the final cut.

Next time you get a chance to watch the film, notice what a truly strange little film it really is.

December 20, 1961 -
Columbia Pictures releases the science fiction film Mysterious Island, directed by Cy Endfield and featuring the stop-motion animation of  Ray Harryhausen, on this date.

Producer Charles H. Schneer claimed that he chose this story after reading an article stating that Jules Verne's Mysterious Island was the most-looked-at book at public libraries.

December 20, 1967 -
Mike Nichols'
seminal 60s film, The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, premiered on this date.

Although Mrs. Robinson is supposed to be much older than Benjamin, Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman are just under six years apart in age. He looked naturally boyish, and she was made up to look older. For the same reason, Bancroft was only 8 years older than her "daughter" Katharine Ross, William Daniels (Mr. Braddock) only 10 years older than his "son" Hoffman.

December 20, 1971 -
Hal Ashby's
very dark comedy, Harold and Maude, starring Ruth Gordon and Burt Cort, premiered on this date. The film was not a commercial success when it opened but is now seen as one of the most influential films of the 1970s.

Bud Cort was hoping that Greta Garbo would play the part of Maude.

December 20, 1979 -
Bob Fosse’s semi-autobiographical film All that Jazz, starring Roy Scheider, Ann Reinking, Jessica Lange and Ben Vereen, opened in the US on this date.

Richard Dreyfuss was originally cast in the role of Joe Gideon but left the production during the rehearsal stage, citing a lack of confidence in the production. He later admitted that he made a mistake in passing up the chance to work with Bob Fosse

December 20, 2002 -
Martin Scorsese
take on the notorious Five Points district of Lower Manhattan during the mid 19th century, Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz, was released on this date.

Daniel Day-Lewis
became so uncomfortable with the greasy hairstyle he wore as Bill the Butcher that he shaved his head immediately after filming completed.

Today's Holiday Special:  Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter ...

Today in History
December 20, 1803
France finalized the Louisiana Purchase and transferred authority over the region to the United States, as a Christmas gift for Thomas Jefferson on this date.

The wisdom of this purchase was not fully appreciated at first but after Mardi Gras it was warmly embraced.

(It was not for nothing that Thomas Jefferson collected beads.)

December 20, 1879 -
Thomas Edison privately demonstrated light bulb to a rapt audience on this date at Menlo Park, N.J.

Unfortunately, it took 27 of his assistants to lift the entire shed and turn it around to screw in the bulb and many believe the light would never take off.

December 20, 1892 -
According to Jules Verne, on October 2nd, Phileas Fogg stepped out of the Explorers Club in London, England and decides to take a little trip.

Due to the incompetence and laziness of most of the transit workers around the world, finally completed his trip on this date.

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on December 20, 1924, after serving less than a year against a five-year treason sentence. Hitler became a prolific author while in prison, where he penned the infamous political autobiography Mein Kampf. (How I Intend to Enslave or Kill Millions of People Immediately Upon My Release.)

He also outlined a series of children’s books which have sadly been lost to history as a result of his having chosen upon his release to pursue a path of demonic world conquest instead of pedagogical literature. One can only wonder what sort of success Hitler would have experienced with titles such as:

Make Way for Stormtroopers,

Driving Gypsies and Jews Up A Tree,

Every Little Aryan Child’s Bedtime Book of Insidious Evil and Global Domination.

December 20, 1941 -
The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, entered combat against the Japanese over Kunming on this date.

The group, formed 12 days after Pearl Harbor, was a great morale booster, as it posted numerous tactical victories when the news in the U.S. was filled with little more than stories of defeat at the hands of the Japanese forces.

December 20, 1957 -
Elvis receives orders from the draft board to serve in the United States Army, which to his credit he does without complaint.

I should have prepared you for the sight of Elvis in his civvies.

December 20, 1997 -
Sotheby's auctioned off the loincloth worn by Kirk Douglas in the 1960 film Spartacus for $2,990 on this date.

You can't get those at Robert Hall, aisle five.

December 20, 2007 -
Elizabeth II turned 81 years and 243 days old on this date and surpassed Queen Victoria as the oldest UK monarch.

Buckingham palace had the time calculated down to the hour, though no major celebrations were held to mark the occasion.  About a year ago, the Queen became the longest reigning sovereign and Prince Charles has been officially pissed since that date.

And so it goes

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