Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
December 04
April 15, 1971
George C. Scott Snubs Oscar

On this day in 1971, George C. Scott thumbed his nose at the movie establishment by turning down the Academy Award for Best Actor for his universally lauded performance as General George S. Patton in Patton. Though Marlon Brando sent a (fake) native American to turn down the Best Actor award the following year, Scott was the first person to say no to the golden fellow. The snub was not, however, a massive surprise as a decade earlier Scott had asked the Academy to rescind a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in The Hustler, and prior to the Oscar ceremony honoring the films of 1970 he had been vocal about his lack of respect for the award in question. When Scott’s name was read out by an excited Goldie Hawn, the actor was not at the award show but at his New York home with his wife, actress Colleen Dewhurst, and their two sons. Scott once referred to the ceremony as a “goddam meat parade,” yet the telegram he’d sent to the Academy when nominated for Patton was at least a little more polite: “I respectfully request that you withdraw my name from the list of nominees. My request is in no way intended to denigrate my colleagues. Furthermore, peculiar as it may seem, I mean no offense to the Academy. I simply do not wish to be involved.” Scott was filming The Hospital at the time of writing and, ironically, was Oscar-nominated for Best Actor for his role in that film. He did not, however, win nor was he ever nominated again for an Academy Award.


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December 4, 1998
Psycho remade

Nearly 40 years after Alfred Hitchcock released his seminal horror film Psycho, Gus Van Sant offered a remake that caused as much controversy as the first one, albeit in a different way.

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December 4, 1987
Rouben Mamoulian Dies

21 years ago today, Hollywood lost one of its great pioneers and stylists, Rouben Mamoulian, though the director had been an almost forgotten figure for nearly 30 years prior to his death. In many ways, Mamoulian was emblematic of old Hollywood: a European immigrant, he came to America as an unknown, enjoyed huge success as a director and saw his career come to an end as the structure of the studio system collapsed in the late 50s. Born in Tbilisi (now the capital of Georgia, but then part of Russia), Mamoulian started out as a musical theatre director after relocating to England. From there, he transitioned to Broadway, arriving in 1927 and getting his first cinematic assignment only two years later on the backstage musical Applause. Though he returned to musicals on the big screen and the stage, Mamoulian refused to be pigeonholed and is now remembered for the cinematic ambition and inventiveness he displayed: in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), he opened the film from the perspective of the protagonist (something which initially baffled audiences), he was a major proponent of moving the camera (at a time when it was difficult and noisy to do so), and used innovative sound design, such as in Love Me Tonight, where the film begins with a jazzy, rhythmic blend of street sounds and snoring. Mamoulian was also the first director to ever use three-strip Technicolor, in his adaptation of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp (1935), a film on which his dedication to his vision of a rich cinematic aesthetic was clearer than ever. Sadly, Mamoulian never quite had that one hugely successful picture that would have cemented his reputation and had a fair amount of bad luck, such as being fired from the noir classic, Laura (1944), on which he was replaced by Otto Preminger. After making the Fred Astaire musical Silk Stockings in 1957, Mamoulian never completed a film again, as he was fired from his last two directing assignments, Porgy and Bess (1959) and Cleopatra (1963). He received the DGA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1982 and five years later died of old age, at the age of 90.

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