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King Aragorn... and Other Luminaries

It's a big day for your Lord of the Rings fans, even if you don't know it. Read on.

On this day in history as it relates to the movies
1882 Bela Lugosi is born in what was then Hungary (and now Romania). He vants to suck your blood as the original big screen Dracula. A century later Martin Landau will win a justly deserved Oscar for playing him in Tim Burton's wonderful Ed Wood (1994).
1895 Rex Ingram, one of the earliest successful black actors in Hollywood was born. Credits include: The Thief of Baghdad (as the genie), Huckleberry Finn (as Jim), and Cabin in the Sky (as Lucifer Jr)... 

1901 Frank Churchill is born in Maine. He wrote songs people still listen to today including "Baby Mine" from Dumbo and "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Tragically he committed suicide at age 40 mere months after his winning his Oscar for Dumbo...

1947 The House of Un-American Activities Comittee begins its witch hunt of Communists in Hollywood which will eventually lead to the Black List and decimate many careers. The subject still haunts Hollywood who makes a movie about it at least once a decade: The Way We Were, Guilty by Suspicion, Good Night, and Good Luck., Trumbo, etcetera
1954 Peter Pan opens on Broadway just a year after Disney's animated version hits theaters. The 50s were good for that boy who wouldn't grow up. He's no longer charmed in showbiz

1955 A very big day. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was published as the third and final volume of JRR Tolkien's masterpiece trilogy. Almost fifty years later its film version sweeps the Oscars winning 11 statues, the most any film has ever won (tied in that regard with Titanic and Ben-Hur, two other gargantuan 3 hour plus epics). What were you rooting for that Oscar year in the battles between Return of the King, Mystic River, Master & Commander, Seabiscuit, and Lost in Translation (there were only 5 nominees back then but under the current system what else would have been in the mix? Probably In America but beyond that it's really hard to say in what was a truly strange Oscar year: City of God? Finding Nemo? The Last Samurai? Pirates of the Caribbean? Whale Rider?)

Also on this day in 1955 Harry Belafonte recorded "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" which became a massive hit. It won a whole new generation of fans when it got its own setpiece in Beetlejuice in the 1980s. The song's cultural impact is also briefly displayed in Selma (2014). Meanwhile over in Los Angeles, Thomas Newman is born into a musically inclined showbiz family. 61 years later the composer is still waiting on his Oscar statue after 13 nominations. This year he scored both Finding Dory and Passengers.

1956 Oscar winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later) is born in Manchester

1958 Viggo Mortensen (also known as Aragorn, Sigmund Freud, Tom Stall and other rich characters) is born in New York New York. He's one of the world's best screen actors though he's only been Oscar nominated once (Eastern Promises). Grrr. He deserves another slam-dunk nomination this year for Captain Fantastic but can he get it with a low profile film? 
1965 Visual Effects man Janek Sirrs is born. He wins the Oscar for the groundbreaking 1999 smash The Matrix. Other credits include The Prestige, and two more Oscar nominations for The Avengers and Iron Man 2
1968 Jackie Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis. Honestly the forthcoming Jackie by Pablo Larraín is so excellent we'd welcome a sequel about her second marriage.

1978 Future beloved cult hit Attack of the Killer Tomatoes opens in movie theaters. Eventually it's popular enough to spawn sequels
1995 Get Shorty opens in movie theaters, cementing John Travolta's comeback with another hit just after Pulp Fiction
2006 Chris Nolan's The Prestige opens in theaters. Happy 10th anniversary to his only arguably "underrated" movie but even that might be a stretch because people love it, too. Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette also hit theaters. We'll have one more post on the latter this afternoon to end Marie Antoinette week.

Happy Birthday if today is the day you arrived!

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Reader Comments (4)

The House on Carroll Street (1988) is a fascinating, forgotten film that uses the House of Un-American Activities Committee as a set-up for its thriller story, starring a then-resurgent Kelly McGillis -- now a 1980s footnote, and undeservingly so.

October 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIan

Batman Begins feels underrated to me, though plenty like it, simply because it often gets lost in the shuffle of the other two.

October 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDuncan Dykes

I'm looking forward to watching Captain Fantastic when it comes out on DVD. I feel like I've only read/heard about it at all from this blog so assuming it is any good, thanks in advance!

October 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny


October 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

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