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August 8: Dustin Hoffman

Distinguished actor Dustin Hoffman, the winner of two Academy Awards (and seven nominations) as “best actor,” was born in Los Angeles on this date in 1937. He knocked around for a decade on stage and at odd jobs until Mike Nichols cast him in a starring role in The Graduate (1967), which established Hoffman as […]

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Irrational Man

Rationality Proves Allusive Reviewed in this article: Irrational Man, a film by Woody Allen. Sony Pictures Classics, 2015, 96 minutes. WOODY ALLEN GETS NO RESPECT. His latest film hasn’t even been out for three weeks, and it looks like it’ll be lucky to enjoy a fourth. The man’s unsavory personal life might have something to […]

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July 27: Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics and book by Howard Ashman, premiered at the Orpheum Theater, where it ran for five years, on this date in 1982. Based on a 1960 comedy film by Roger Corman, the rock-musical tells the story of a florist who raises a flesh-eating, fast-growing plant […]

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June 27: “Imitation of Life”

The filming of Imitation of Life, a ground-breaking American feature film on the theme of race, began on this date in 1934. John M. Stahl (Jacob Morris Strelitsky, 1886-1950) was the director, and the film was based on a novel by Fannie Hurst, about the tribulations of two entrepreneurial women, one white (Claudette Colbert), one […]

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June 25: Sidney Lumet

The director of over fifty feature films, including 12 Angry Men (1957), The Pawnbroker (1964), Fail-Safe (1964), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Serpico (1973), Network (1976), The Verdict (1982), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007), and other socially conscious works about conscience and grit, often set in New York City, Sidney Lumet was born to […]

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April 15: Seth Rogen

Comic actor, writer, and film producer Seth Rogen, the son of radical secular Jews (his father was an assistant director of the Workmen’s Circle in Canada), was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on this date in 1982. Rogen worked on the television shows Freaks and Geeks and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show before […]

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April 4: Elmer Bernstein’s Film Scores

Composer Elmer Bernstein, who created the music for The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Ten Commandments, The Man with the Golden Arm, To Kill a MockingbirdGhostbusters, Airplane!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Blues Brothers, A River Runs Through It, and some 200 other movies and television shows, was born in New York on this date […]

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March 10: The Salt of the Earth

Herbert Biberman’s film, The Salt of the Earth, opened on this date in 1954. Biberman (1900-1971) was one of the “Hollywood Ten,” a group of leftwing directors and screenwriters blacklisted and jailed (Biberman for six months) for contempt of Congress after refusing to answer questions posed by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities in 1947. […]

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February 21: David Geffen

One of the most influential record producers of the past four decades and cofounder of the film studio DreamWorks SKG, David Geffen was born in Borough Park, Brooklyn on this date in 1943, to shopkeeping parents. A dyslexic college dropout (twice), Geffen lied his way into the William Morris Agency and then became personal manager […]

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