Gerard Butler and Idris Elba in RocknRolla

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 06 September Idris Elba born, 1972 On this day in 1972, Eve Elba gave birth to Idrissa Akuna Elba, who shortened his name to Idris after starting school in London’s Canning Town. A big kid at school, Idris had the status that went with it, was good at sport, interested in music, keen on acting, where he found he had the self-confidence to “disappear into the character”. At 14 he was a pirate DJ. At 16 he was a theatre stagehand and also did night shifts at Ford’s Dagenham factory. In his early 20s the acting took off and he went from … Read more

If Not Us, Who?

August Diehl and Lena Lauzemis in If Not Us, Who

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 September Kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, 1977 On this day in 1977, the West German businessman Hanns-Martin Schleyer – a former SS officer who had risen to post-war prominence in the country’s employers organisation – was kidnapped in Cologne by the militant urban guerrilla group Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, as part of what became know as the German Autumn. His kidnappers were hoping to use him, at least partly, as collateral to force the government to release jailed members of their gang, including prominent faces Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin. While the gang moved Schleyer around, from … Read more

Los Angeles Plays Itself

An illuminated billboard at dusk

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 04 September Founding of Los Angeles, 1781 On this day in 1781 a group of 44 people (plus four soldiers) known as the Pobladores founded the “city” of Los Angeles. Or as it was known then El Peublo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles sobre el Río Porciúncula (the Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River) – California (or Las Californias) being still part of the Spanish empire in those days. The group comprised 11 men, 11 women and 22 children, and were a racially mixed bunch who had been recruited with difficulty in … Read more

The Lion in Winter

Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Anthony Hopkins as Richard the Lionheart in The Lion in Winter

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 03 September Richard I of England crowned at Westminster, 1189 On this day in 1189 one of the most famous English kings was crowned in Westminster Abbey in London. Known as the Lionheart, because of his great courage in battle, he is often viewed romantically, especially if seen through the prism of the Robin Hood stories, in which his half brother John always gets the bad guy role and Richard is the paragon of virtue. Richard spoke French, not English (he was also the Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine, Nantes, Anjou, Gascony and so on – the idea of monarchy and nation being … Read more


Peter Finch delivers his "mad as hell speech in Network

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 02 September 50th Anniversary of CBS Evening News On this day in 1963 CBS’s flagship news show – broadcast since 1948 – assumed the title CBS Evening News. At which point it became US network TV’s first half-hour weeknight news broadcast. Walter Cronkite was its presenter (he’d taken over from Douglas Edwards the year before), a position he’d hold until 1981. A solid, progressive middle-American with natural gravitas, Cronkite became known as “the most trusted man in America” and the CBS Evening News became the country’s ratings-leading and most authoritative news broadcast. To this day when footage about the assassinations of JFK and Martin … Read more

A Trip to the Moon

The famous moon landing in Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 01 September Generally speaking I’m going to choose historical events rather than movie events as a peg off which to hang the Film of the Day. But today is the first one so why not make an exception? Debut Screening by George Méliès of A Trip to the Moon, 1902 On this day in 1902, the great showman, illusionist and restless inventor George Méliès gave the first showing of Le Voyage dans la Lune. It was the Star Wars of its day and a huge international hit. If it wasn’t the first sci-fi film ever made, it was, along with the … Read more