|© United Artists|
Depending on the decade, some of this week's films opened over the Labor Day weekend, the traditional 'last weekend of the summer' and a time when studios, at least in the modern era, would release a film to take advantage of the four-day weekend. This week through the decades gave us a silent classic, Marilyn Monroe's last musical, the first musical in which Doris Day danced, a Roger Corman sci-fi cult classic, thoughtful dramas, a real movie from a fake trailer, and the granddaddy -- or grandmother -- of all slasher films. Take a look and see if any of your favorites premiered this week, and be sure to check out the highlighted links to rent or purchase this week's films from our affiliate partners. Any purchase through these links helps support our efforts here at Hotchka. Thanks!
1920September 3 - Way Down East
- Cast: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Lowell Sherman, Burr McIntosh
- Director: D. W. Griffith
- Studio: United Artists
- Trivia: This was the third silent version of the play by Lottie Blair Parker, followed by a sound version in 1935 with Henry Fonda. The play starred Phoebe Davies, who starred in more than 4,000 performances from 1897 to 1909. The play's 19th Century American and Victorian ideals were considered outdated by the time of the 1920 film's production. It was Griffith's most expensive film to date, and one of the most successful, the fourth highest grossing silent film in cinema history earning more than $4.5 million. Clarine Seymour was cast as Kate, but died following surgery. Her role was recast with Mary Hay and her footage was reshot. The film's famous ice floe climax was filmed in White River Junction, Vermont with waterfall footage from Niagra Falls. Ice had to be sawed and dynamited before filming. A small fire was constantly burning under the camera to prevent it from freezing up. Griffith experienced frostbite on one side of his face. Gish and Barthelmess performed their own stunts. Gish's hair froze, and it was her idea to put her hand in the water in what would become the film's iconic image, leading to permanent impairment of her hand. The shot of ice floes going over the falls were filmed out of season and are made of wood. The film faced censorship issues by various state film boards. The Pennsylvania film board required more than 60 cuts, including the removal of key plot points involving a fake marriage and honeymoon and any references to pregnancy, destroying the story's main points of conflict.
- Cast: Mae Murray, David Powell, Holmes Herbert
- Director: George Fitzmaurice
- Studio: Famous Players-Lasky, distributed by Paramount Pictures
- Trivia: Based on the French novel L'Homme qui assassina, by Claude Farrère, and play by Pierre Frondaie. A copy of the film is preserved in the Netherlands Filmmuseum.
- Cast: Dustin Farnum, Kathryn Adams, Fred Malatesta, Violet Scram
- Director: Colin Campbell
- Studio: Robertson-Cole Distributing Corporation
- Trivia: The film is considered lost.
- Cast: Thomas Meighan, Martha Mansfield, Maude Turner Gordon, Alfred Hickman, Frank Losee
- Director: Hugh Ford
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Trivia: Based on the 1919 Broadway play by Thompson Buchanan. The film is preserved at the Gosfilmofond Russian Archives, Moscow.
- Cast: May McAvoy, Bruce Gordon, Morgan Thorpe
- Director: J. Stuart Blackton
- Studio: J. Stuart Blackton Feature Pictures, distributed by Pathé Exchange
- Trivia: Based on the novel by Edith Sessions Tupper.
- Cast: Carol Dempster, Richard Barthelmess, George MacQuarrie, Anders Randolf
- Director: D. W. Griffith
- Studio: United Artists
- Trivia: Griffith was a founding partner of United Artists. The film was shot simultaneously with The Idol Dancer in Fort Lauderdale, FL and Nassau, Bahamas to fulfill a contract with First National Pictures. After previewing the film, Griffith purchased the rights for $400,000, shot additional underwater scenes in Florida, and released the re-edited film through UA.
- Cast: Ormer Locklear, Louise Lovely, Sam De Grasse
- Director: James P. Hogan
- Studio: William Fox Studio, distributed by Fox Film Corporation
- Trivia: Despite Locklear's claims that the film would feature the most daring stunts ever filmed, the production relied more on models than actual flying. Two actual stunts nearly ended in disaster. During production of the last stunt to be filmed, Locklear, who learned his contract was not going to be extended for a second film, insisted on flying at night. A large crowd gathered to watch the stunt with large arc lights set to illuminate the scene, then to be turned off when Locklear's plane reached a certain altitude to notify him of his position. The lights were never turned off and Locklear and his co-pilot Milton 'Skeets' Elliot crashed into the sludge pool of an oil well. Both men died instantly. The film had already been completed except for the night scene and was released shortly after, capitalizing on the deaths. The film is now considered lost.
- Cast: Helen Jerome Eddy, David Butler, Edythe Chapman, William V. Mong, Arthur Housman
- Director: Edmund Mortimer, Maurice Tourneur
- Studio: Distributed by Guy Croswell Smith
- Cast: Wilda Bennett, Claire Whitney, Henry Harmon
- Director: Leander de Cordova
- Studio: Metro Pictures
- Cast: Dorothy Phillips, Margaret Mann, William Ellingford, Emily Chichester, Rudolph Valentino
- Director: Allen Holubar
- Studio: Jewel Production, distributed by Universal Film Manufacturing Company
- Trivia: Valentino was an unknown at the time of the film's production. The film was re-released in 1922 to capitalize on his increased popularity. The film is now considered lost.
- Cast: Jack Mulhall, Marguerite De La Motte, Ruth Stonehouse, Frank Elliott, Lillian Langdon
- Director: Herbert Blache
- Studio: Metro Pictures
- Trivia: The film does survive, with a print preserved at the George Eastman House.
1930September 7 - Song o' My Heart
- Cast: John McCormack, Alice Joyce, Maureen O'Sullivan, Effie Ellsler, John Garrick
- Director: Frank Borzage
- Studio: Fox Film Corporation
- Trivia: This was O'Sullivan's second film role. The film was shot in both 35mm and 70mm Fox Grandeur formats.
1940September 6 - Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum
- Cast: Sidney Toler, Victor Sen Yung, C. Henry Gordon, Marc Lawrence
- Director: Lynn Shores
- Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
- Cast: Bing Crosby, Mary Martin, Basil Rathbone, Oscar Levant, William Frawley, Charles Lane
- Director: Victor Schertzinger
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Trivia: 'Only Forever' by James V. Monaco and Johnny Burke, sung by Crosby and Martin, was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar. The song was a hit, topping the Billboard charts for nine weeks. Another song, 'That's for Me', hit the charts for seven weeks, topping out at Number 9. The film mentions a fictional song named 'Goodbye to Love' which Richard Carpenter thought would be a good title for a song by The Carpenters. It was recorded and released in 1972.
1950September 2 - Tea for Two
- Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Gene Nelson, Eve Arden, Billy De Wolfe
- Director: David Butler
- Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
- Trivia: Inspired by the 1925 stage musical No, No, Nanette, although the plot was changed considerably from the original book of the show by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel. Day and DeWolfe became lifelong friends after meeting on this film, and appeared in Lullaby of Broadway together the following year. He went on to appear with her on The Doris Day Show. This was the first time Day received top billing in a film, and marked the first time she danced on screen. This was Butler and Day's second collaboration following It's a Great Feeling in 1949. The two would work together again on Lullaby of Broadway, April in Paris, By the Light of the Silvery Moon and Calamity Jane. McRae and Nelson appeared together in the 1955 film version of Oklahoma! Nelson won the Golden Globe for New Star of the Year.
1960September 4 - Tunes of Glory
- Cast: Alec Guinness, John Mills, Dennis Price, Susannah York
- Director: Ronald Neame
- Studio: Knightsbridge Films, distributed by United Artists (international) and Lopert Pictures (US)
- Trivia: The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Septemberember 4. Based on the 1956 novel by James Kennaway. The title refers to the bagpiping of the Gordon Highlanders that accompany every important action of the regiment. Kennaway also wrote the screenplay and was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. The script was set up at Ealing Studios with Jack Hawkins in the Sinclair role, but after revisions to remove 'too much army-worship', the studio was no longer interested and Hawkins was unavailable, with Guinness and Mills both offered the role. Guinness stated he was offered the role of Barrow but preferred Sinclair, so the Barrow role went to Mills. The film was eventually shot at Shepperton Studios. Production was initially granted permission to film at the Stirling Castle, the Regimental Headquarters for the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, but after seeing a lurid paperback cover of the book upon which the film is based, permission was revoked with only distant shots of the castle allowed to be filmed. This was York's film debut.
- Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Yves Montand, Tony Randall, Frankie Vaughan, Wilfrid Hyde-White
- Director: George Cukor
- Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
- Trivia: The film's original title was The Billionaire. Monroe owed Fox four films under her 1955 seven year contract, but by 1959 had only completed one, Bus Stop. After Some Like It Hot became a success for United Artists, Monroe and husband Arthur Miller insisted The Misfits be her next film, but Fox wanted to capitalize on Some Like It Hot and The Misfits was put on hold for The Billionaire. A non-musical actor was needed to make the lead role funnier and Gregory Peck accepted the role (Gary Cooper and James Stewart were also considered). Screenwriter Norman Krasna envisioned Cyd Charisse as the female lead, but Monroe was cast instead and she and Miller wanted her role expanded. Peck dropped out after the focus shifted to the female lead, and Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and Charlton Heston were offered and turned down the role. Yves Montand, who had appeared in a French version of Miller's The Crucible, was offered the role with Monroe's and Miller's blessing. Monroe won the Golden Globe for Best Actress - Musical or Comedy. Montand's wife Simone Signoret won the Oscar for Best Actress that same year for Room at the Top, and the two couples soon became inseparable. Both Monroe and Montand experienced difficulties making the film. Monroe did not have a good relationship with director Cukor and Montand did not speak English. Neither star was happy with the script and two Hollywood strikes shut down production for over a month. Rumor suggested Monroe and Montand bonded during production and began an affair that ended with the completion of filming, but Fox exploited the affair to give the film more publicity. Monroe commented in 1962 that it was the worst role of her career, and Montand acknowledged the script issues and his own issues with English during a 1988 interview with David Letterman, but said it was an honor working with Monroe. It was Marilyn Monroe's last musical film performance.
|© Universal Pictures|
- Cast: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Janet Leigh
- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Studio: Shamley Productions, distributed by Paramount Pictures
- Trivia: The film premiered June 16, 1960 at New York's DeMille Theatre. Based on the book of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film was shot on a much lower budget than Hitchcock's previous film, North By Northwest, in black and white by a television crew. Widely regarded as one of the earliest examples of the 'slasher film' genre. The film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1992. Bloch based his story on murderer and grave robber Ed Gein. Paramount initially rejected the story proposal but Hitchcock bought the rights to the book for $9,500 and ordered his assistant Peggy Robertson to buy up all the copies of the book to preserve the novel's surprises. Paramount again balked at producing the film and providing Hitchcock's usual budget. He offered to make the film cheaply and quickly using the production crew from his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but Paramount claimed their sound stages were booked. Hitchcock offered to finance the film himself and film it at Universal under his Shamley Productions banner if Paramount would distribute. He also waived his director's fee for a 60% stake in the film negative. The Marion Crane character only appears in two of the novel's 17 chapters, but is expanded to nearly half of the film's narrative. Marion was named Mary in the book, but was changed because a real Mary Crane lived in Arizona. In the novel, Mary/Marion is beheaded in the shower. This was the first film to actually show a toilet flushing on screen. Hitchcock shot the film in black and white to keep costs down, and to prevent the shower murder scene from becoming too gory; he also admired the use of black and white in French thriller Les Diaboliques. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins accepted lower than usual salaries with Leigh taking $25,0000, a quarter of her usual fee. Perkins agreed to $40,000. While Paramount did distribute the film, Hitchcock sold his stock in Shamely to Universal in 1964, where he made his last six films. In 1968, Paramount sold all of its rights to Hitchcock's films to Universal. While shooting on location in Phoenix, Christmas decorations were found to be visible in the footage so instead of reshooting it, Hitchcock added the on screen text 'Friday, December the Eleventh'. The Bates house was modeled on the painting The House by the Railroad by Edward Hopper. Leigh and Perkins were encouraged to improvise and interpret their roles as long as it didn't involve moving the camera. It was Perkins' idea for Norman to eat candy corn. Hitchcock makes his trademark cameo early in the film standing outside Marion Crane's office. It was suggested he chose this moment so he could be in the film with his daughter who played one of Marion's colleagues, and because he didn't want to be a distraction later. The shower scene was shot over the period of a week with 77 different camera angles and 50 edits, running three minutes. Most of the shots are extreme close-ups to make it more subjective for the audience. Hitchcock initially wanted no music for the shower scene, but composer Bernard Herrmann insisted he try a composition titled 'The Murder'. Hitchcock agreed it vastly intensified the scene, and nearly doubled Herrmann's salary. The blood was reported to be chocolate syrup, which photographed better in black and white, and the sound of the knife was made by stabbing a casaba melon. Contradicting accounts say a body double was used for some of the shots in the shower, while Leigh says she was in the shower the entire time. Leigh also disputed reports that cold water was used to get genuine screams from her during the stabbing. The film's title creator Saul Bass has claimed to have directed the shower scene but Leigh and other have emphatically denied that claim. It is often claimed that no shot ever shows the knife puncturing flesh, but a frame by frame analysis has revealed one shot in which it appears the knife pierces Marion's abdomen. Leigh was so affected by the scene that she never took showers for the rest of her life unless necessary, and she locked all the doors and windows before bathing after realizing how vulnerable one is in that situation. The censors of the Production Code insisted they saw Leigh's breast during the shower scene and ordered it removed. Hitchcock held on to the film for several days and resubmitted it untouched. The censors were satisfied that the edit was made, although Hitchcock did have to remove a shot of Leigh's stand-in's buttocks. Hitchcock insisted on a 'No Late Admissions' policy at theaters fearing latecomers would miss Leigh's appearance and feel cheated. Theater owners initially objected but were pleased after the first day as they saw long lines of people waiting to get in to see the movie. Hitchcock did most of the film's promotion himself, forbidding Leigh and Perkins from making the usual publicity rounds of television, radio and print interviews. Even critics were not given private screenings in order to preserve the film's surprises. A trailer featuring Hitchcock giving a tour of the set was made after filming was completed and Leigh was no longer available. It wasn't discovered until years later that the blonde woman in the shower was Leigh's co-star Vera Miles in a blonde wig. The film's title covers most of the screen when she is revealed, making the switch unnoticed by audiences for years. The film kickstarted Perkins' career but he soon found himself typecast. He said he would still have accepted the role if he'd known how it would affect his career. Leigh continued to receive threatening letters and phone calls until her death in 2004 detailing what the sender would like to do to Marion Crane. One letter was so disturbing she passed it on to the FBI who did locate the culprits. After Hitchcock's death, three sequels were produced, all starring Perkins. Vera Miles returned for Psycho II, and Perkins directed Psycho III. Psycho IV was a made-for-TV movie. Gus Van Sant directed a nearly shot-for-shot remake in 1998, and a prequel television series set in present day, Bates Motel, aired on the A&E network for four seasons beginning in 2013.
1970September 3 - Fragment of Fear
- Cast: David Hemmings, Gayle Hunnicutt, Flora Robson, Arthur Lowe
- Director: Richard C. Sarafian
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Trivia: Adapted from the novel A Fragment of Fear by John Bingham. The film's jazz score was used by Levi's for their European Kung Fu TV advertising campaign in the late 1990s.
1980September 5 - The Agency
- Cast: Robert Mitchum, Lee Majors, Saul Rubinek, Valerie Perrine, Alexandra Stewart
- Director: George Kaczender
- Studio: Jensen Farley Pictures
- Trivia: Known as Mind Games on video. Based on a novel by Paul Gottlieb. The film was shot on location in Montreal and rural Quebec.
- Cast: Bruce MacDonald, Maggie Renzi, David Strathairn, Adam LeFevre, Maggie Cousineau, David Strathairn, John Sayles
- Director: John Sayles
- Studio: Salsipuedes Productions, distributed by Libra Films
- Trivia: Added to the National Film Registry in 1997. Budgeted at $60,000, the film went on to earn $2 million at the box office. The film was thought to have inspired the similar-in-story The Big Chill, writer/director Lawrence Kasdan has denied having seen Return of the Secaucus 7 before working on his film.
|© New World Pictures|
- Cast: Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, George Peppard, John Saxon, Sybil Danning, Darlanne Fluegel
- Director: Jimmy T. Murakami
- Studio: New World Pictures
- Trivia: Inspired by The Magnificent Seven in which Robert Vaughn also appeared. Produced by Roger Corman, John Sayles (Return of the Secausus 7) wrote the screenplay, James Horner provided the score, and James Cameron designed the special effects. Budgeted at $2 million, it was Corman's most expensive film to date, with much of that going to the salaries of Vaughn and Peppard. The planet Akir in the film is named in honor of Akira Kurosawa, whose Seven Samurai provided the framework for the plot. The film was Cameron's 'big break', launching his career. Bill Paxton worked on set as a carpenter. This was Horner's third score ever and his third score for Corman after Humanoids from the Deep and The Lady in Red, and fans have noted similarities between this score and those for Horner's Krull and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Horner went on to become a regular collaborator with Cameron, winning an Oscar for his score to Titanic. The starship footage was reused by Corman for Space Raiders, Starquest II, Vampirella, The Fantastic Four, Dead Space and Forbidden World. A clip from the film is shown during the movie theater fight scene in Bachelor Party. Horner's soundtrack was recycled for Corman's Raptor. A prequel comic book mini-series, Battle Amongst the Stars, was released in March 2010.
- No new films premiered this week in 1990.
|© Sony Pictures Classics|
September 6 - Pollock
- Cast: Ed Harris, Marcia Gay Harden, Tom Bower, Jennifer Connelly, Bud Cort, John Heard, Val Kilmer, Amy Madigan, Jeffrey Tambor, Sada Thompson, Norbert Weisser
- Director: Ed Harris
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Trivia: Marcia Gay Herden won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Harris was nominated for Best Actor. Harden also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award and Harris won the Toronto Film Critics Association Award. Adapted from the book Jackson Pollock: An American Saga by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. The film was a passion project for Harris, and took nearly ten years to bring to fruition. Filming was completed in 50 days, with a six-week hiatus so Harris could gain 30 lbs and grow a beard. Harris did all the painting in the film.
- Cast: Pras, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ja Rule, Tamala Jones
- Director: Robert Adetuyi
- Studio: New Line Cinema
- Trivia: The film holds an 8% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Budgeted at $13 million, it earned $1.2 million during its brief theatrical run.
- Cast: Morgan Freeman, Renée Zellweger, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Aaron Eckhart, Crispin Glover, Pruitt Taylor Vince
- Director: Neil LaBute
- Studio: Gramercy Pictures, Intermedia, Pacifica Film, Propaganda Films, ab'-strakt pictures, distributed by USA Films
- Trivia: The film had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2000. Zellwege won the Golden Globe for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and Actress of the Year from the London Film Critics.
- Cast: James Spader, Marisa Tomei, Ernie Hudson, Chris Ellis, Keanu Reeves
- Director: Joe Charbanic
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Trivia: Reeves has stated he was not interested in the script but was forced into the film when a friend forged his name on a contract. Instead of going through a lengthy legal battle, he decided to perform the role, reaching an agreement with producers not to reveal the details of what happened until 12 months after the film's US release. In return, he was excused from doing press for the film. Reeves was unhappy that his role, written as a cameo, eventually was rewritten as a lead while he was still being paid scale. For his troubles, Reeves was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, losing to Barry Pepper for Battlefield Earth. The film's original title was Driven, but was changed after another film with the same title was announced. The film opened at Number 1 with just over $9 million. The second weekend, one of the worst at the box office since the 1980s, saw the film's box office decrease by 36% but it remained at the top spot. The film eventually grossed close to $29 million during its theatrical run.
- Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Benicio del Toro, Juliette Lewis, Taye Diggs, Nicky Katt, Scott Wilson, James Caan
- Director: Christopher McQuarrie
- Studio: Artisan Entertainment, Aqaba Productions, distributed by Artisan Entertainment
- Trivia: Originally a box office disappointment, the film has developed a cult following. After the success of The Usual Suspects, McQuarrie assumed he'd have no trouble getting his next film made, but found that Hollywood was not interested in his projects, they just wanted McQuarrie to work on their projects. Over coffee, del Toro asked why McQuarrie hadn't made another crime film, and he said he didn't want to be typecast, but at this point he had nothing to lose, writing the script on his own terms without studio interference. McQuarrie and del Toro gave the script to several high profile actors, but were turned down. Phillippe wanted to change the direction of his career, and McQuarrie was not interested but Phillippe would not take no for an answer.
2010September 3 - Going the Distance
- Cast: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate
- Director: Nanette Burstein
- Studio: New Line Cinema, Offspring Entertainment, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
- Trivia: The film opened in the UK on August 27, 2010, the film's original US release date, but Warner Bros. decided to push the film to Labor Day weekend because of weak reviews, hoping to take advantage of the long holiday and putting distance between the film and the summer blockbusters. The film opened at Number 5 behind The American, Machete, Takers and The Last Exorcism.
|© 20th Century Fox|
- Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro
- Director: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis
- Studio: Overnight Films, Troublemaker Studios, Hyde Park Entertainment, distributed 20th Century Fox (North America), Sony Pictures Releasing International (International)
- Trivia: The film was based on a character from Rodriguez's Spy Kids franchise who was also featured in a fake trailer shown as part of the Grindhouse double feature. This was Segal's first theatrically released film since 2002's Half Past Dead. The origins of the character go back to Desperado with Trejo suggesting the character put out a new movie every year like Jean-Claude Van Damme or Charles Bronson, and Rodriguez liked the idea but never got around to it. The fake trailer in Grindhouse included scenes from the script Rodriguez wrote in 1993. The film was originally to be a bonus feature on the individual release of the Planet Terror DVD but ended up being released theatrically. Michelle Rodriguez was the first actress cast who wasn't in the original trailer. Chris Cooper turned down the role of Senator McLaughlin, which went to De Niro. Jonah Hill was cast as Julio but replaced by Daryl Sabara from the Spy Kids films. The fake trailer was shot while Rodriguez was filming the Planet Terror segment of Grindhouse. Some of the scenes were included in the film while some were reshot. Lindsay Lohan filmed her role in three days. A fake trailer for the film was released on May 5, 2010 with several websites reporting it was the first official teaser. Rodriguez later revealed it was a joke for Cinco de Mayo. The official trailer was released on July 8, 2010 and attached to prints of Predators and The Expendables. A gorier red band trailer was released on July 23. The film opened at Number 2 at the box office behind The American. Two sequels were greenlit with Machete Kills released on October 11, 2013. Machete Kills Again has, so far, not been produced.