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Uma Thurman as Venus in Baron Munchausen

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 11 May Baron Münchhausen born, 1720 On this day in 1720, Hieronymous Carl Friedrich Baron von Münchhausen was born, in Bodenwerder, Hanover. An aristocrat by birth, Münchhausen was employed by Anthony Ulrich II of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, a member of the Habsburg dynasty, and followed him to Russia during the Russo-Turkish War (his employer being married to a Romanov). Münchhausen rose through the ranks, becoming a cornet, lieutenant and finally a captain, before retiring to his estate with his wife. There he would entertain guests with fabulously embroidered tales, particularly of his time fighting the Turks. Münchhausen knew his tales were fantastical, and … Read more
Orson Welles and Charlton Heston in Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 10 May Rock around the Clock released, 1954 On this day in 1954, Bill Haley and His Comets released the single Rock around the Clock. It wasn’t the first rock and roll record – that was probably Rocket 88 by Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm (though the label credited Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, Brenston being Turner’s sax player) – and it was only moderately successful, hitting number 23 on the Billboard chart before dropping out completely after one week. Written in 1952 by Max Freedman and James Myers, it was first recorded by Sonny Dae and His Knights. Haley’s … Read more
Giacomo Rizzo and Laura Chiatti in The Family Friend

The Family Friend

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 9 May First recorded appearance of Mr Punch, 1662 On this day in 1662, Navy Board administrator Samuel Pepys went to Covent Garden, London, where he enjoyed “an Italian puppet play that is within the rayles there, which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw…”. The show was by a Pietro Gimonde from Bologna, and Pepys’s mention of it in his famous diary is the first record we have of Mr Punch. Today, Punch is a glove puppet, but back then he was a string marionette called Puncinello or Pulcinella or Pulliciniello, a character derived from the Italian commedia … Read more
The Hobbyhorse: Way of the Morris

Way of the Morris

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 8 May First commemorative period of silence proposed, 1919 On this day in 1919, Edward George Honey, an Australian former soldier and journalist, first proposed the idea of a silence to honour the dead of the Great War. He was living in London at the time, and suggested it in a letter written to the London Evening News. Honey mooted a five minute silence, to commune with “the Glorious Dead who won us peace”, having been upset by the sight of people dancing in the streets on Armistice Day in 1918. Honey’s idea was either taken up by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, or … Read more
Grigoriy Dobrygin and Sergey Puskepalis in How I Ended This Summer

How I Ended This Summer

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 7 May Vladimir Putin becomes Russian president, 2000 On this day in 2000, former KGB lieutenant Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia. He had resigned from the KGB on the second day of the attempted KGB coup against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991 – “I immediately decided which side I was on” he later said. From there he went into an administrative career working for the Saint Petersburg mayor’s office, where he was responsible for organising foreign investment. In 1996 he moved to Moscow, where he became responsible for transferring the former assets of the Soviet Union to … Read more
Thekla Reuten and George Clooney in The American

The American

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 6 May George Clooney born, 1961 On this day in 1961, George Timothy Clooney was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Raised a Catholic in a showbiz family (father a news anchor, aunt singer Rosemary Clooney, mother a beauty queen), George was a bright student. He was also adept at sport and at one point wanted to become a professional baseball player. Instead he studied broadcast journalism, taking small roles as an extra on TV to make a bit of money on the side, turning up in shows such as Centennial and The Golden Girls before getting a semi-regular gig on the sitcom … Read more
Ian Holm as Napoléon Bonaparte

The Emperor’s New Clothes

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 5 May Napoleon dies, 1821 On this day in 1821, Napoléon Bonaparte died, on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic. He had been taken there by the British after defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, which had been made necessary by Napoléon’s escape from his previous exile on the isle of Elba. Elba was in the Mediterranean, but with Helena no one was taking any chances. The man who had conquered most of western Europe and invaded Russia was sequestered on one of the remotest places in the world – 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) from the nearest major … Read more
Yauch, Horovitz, Diamond: The Beastie Boys

Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 4 May Adam Yauch dies, 2012 On this day in 2012, Adam Yauch, one of the Beastie Boys, died, aged 47. He had formed the Beastie Boys in high school in 1981. The band was originally a punk band but, losing two members, original members Yauch and Adam Horovitz gained a third, Michael Diamond, and switched to hip hop in 1984, taking on hip hop names en route – MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D respectively. A string of singles followed, then came a tour with Madonna, before the band released their debut album Licensed to Ill, which was a monster hit … Read more
Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan in the Triplets sequence

The Band Wagon

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 3 May Betty Comden born, 1917 On this day in 1917, lyricist, librettist and screenwriter Betty Comden was born, as Basya Cohen, in Brooklyn, New York. After finishing high school she studied drama at New York University, where she formed a small revue troupe with Judy Holliday, Leonard Bernstein and Adolph Green. Green would go on to be her lifelong writing partner. Being performers and writers, both Comden and Green liked to write themselves into their works. Which is what they did with On the Town, their first big Broadway success. After a couple of flop shows, the duo headed to … Read more
Juno Temple and Emily Browning in Magic Magic

5 May 2014-05-05

    Out in the UK This Week Like Father, Like Son (Arrow, cert PG, Blu-ray/DVD/digital) A couple of years ago Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda made an enchanting film called I Wish, about two separated brothers, the importance of family ties being its theme. With Like Father, Like Son he’s similarly sure-footed and on the same turf but is coming at it from a slightly different direction. The story of the Nonomiyas, a well-to-do couple who discover that their five-year-old son isn’t actually their son at all – a mix-up in the maternity ward – this drama is all about the competing values of rearing over blood. The white-collar family discover that the owner … Read more
Scarlett Alice Johnson in Panic Button

Panic Button

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 2 May Maiden flight of the world’s first passenger jet, 1952 On this day in 1952, the de Havilland DH 106 Comet was introduced into service by BOAC airlines. It was the world’s first commercial jet and its clean lines, big square windows, relatively quiet cabin and comfortable interior meant it looked like it was going to be a success. However, things did not start auspiciously for the plane. Several Comets had to abort take-off as they were taxiing down the runway. Over the next year, three in-air catastrophes occurred, with planes falling apart in mid-air. It was discovered that the … Read more
Eva Green and Ewan McGregor in Perfect Sense

Perfect Sense

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 1 May England and Scotland become the United Kingdom, 1707 On this day in 1707, the countries of England and Scotland officially became united in “one kingdom by the name of Great Britain” (according to the Acts of Union). By “England”, the acts included the country of Wales, which had become absorbed legally into England by the Laws in Wales Acts of 1535 and 1542. Though in terms of monarchy, the English throne had been seized by a Welshman, when Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) defeated Richard III in battle in 1485. This Tudor line persisted in England until 1603, when … Read more

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