March 13 in the 20th Century

90 years ago in…

…cinema: Fritz Lang’s expressionist epic science-fiction drama film Metropolis was released in US cinemas . It is regarded as a pioneering work of the science-fiction genre in movies, being among the first feature-length movies of the genre.

Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. Filming took place in 1925 at a cost of approximately five million Reichsmarks. The art direction draws influence from Bauhaus, Cubist and Futurist design.

Meeting with a mixed reception upon release, the film’s extensive running time (153 minutes) came in for criticism, as did its alleged Communist message. It was cut substantially after its German premiere, removing a large portion of Lang’s original footage.

Numerous attempts have been made to restore the film. Music producer Giorgio Moroder released a truncated version with a soundtrack by rock artists such as Freddie Mercury, Loverboy and Adam Ant in 1984. After a long restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on 12 February 2010.

Official website: http://www.metropolis1927.com/.

75 years ago today…

John Paul Larkin, better known by his stage name Scatman John, was born.  He was an American music artist who created a fusion of scat singing and dance music, best known for his 1995 hits “Scatman (Ski Ba Bop Ba Dop Bop)” and “Scatman’s World” and 1996 hit “Everybody Jam!”

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As a stutterer, Larkin stated that scatting was “turning [his] biggest problem into [his] biggest asset.” Scatman John sold millions of recordings worldwide and was named “Best New Artist” in the Echo Awards in both Japan and Germany. He was a recipient of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Annie Glenn Award for outstanding service to the stuttering community and National Stuttering Association Hall of Fame.

In late 1998 Larkin was diagnosed with lung cancer, but he continued his musical work despite being told to take it easy. In 1999, he was sent into intensive treatment. Even while suffering, Larkin remained positive, saying “Whatever God wants is fine by me … I’ve had the very best life. I have tasted beauty.” Larkin died at his home in Los Angeles on 3 December, 1999 at the age of 57. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea near Malibu, California.

Go to the Scatman John tribute page at: http://bit.ly/2mZcsnr.

 

TV presenter and actor, Geoffrey Hayes is best known as the host of Thames Television’s top-rated children’s show Rainbow from 1974 to 1992, was born. Before that, he had much other work, including a recurring role in BBC1’s police drama Z-Cars.

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Hayes struggled to find work after Rainbow was cancelled but continued to work in television and pantomime.  However, it was not enough to earn a living as an actor, so he took a job stacking shelves for a British supermarket chain, before becoming a taxi driver. Hayes starred in a humorous television advert about investing money, making fun of his fall from the top.

75 years ago…

…in cinema: The Ghost of Frankenstein is an American monster horror film released this day in US cinemas. The movie is the fourth in a series of films produced by Universal Studios based upon characters in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and features Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Monster, taking over from Boris Karloff, who played the role in the first three films of the series, and Béla Lugosi in his second and final appearance as the demented Ygor. The supporting cast features Lionel Atwill, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy and Evelyn Ankers.

Ygor resurrects Frankenstein’s monster and brings him to the original doctor’s son, Ludwig, for help. Ludwig, obsessed with the idea of restoring the monster to full power, is unaware that his various associates all have different ideas about whose brain is to be transplanted into the monster’s skull.

The title of the film refers to the fact that Dr. Henry Frankenstein, creator of The Monster in the first Universal Frankenstein film, appears (played by Hardwicke) as a ghostly apparition to advise Ludwig.

30 years ago…

…in cinema: Stand by Me, an American coming-of-age drama film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O’Connell, was released in UK cinemas. The film, whose plot is based on Stephen King’s novella The Body (1982) and title is derived from Ben E. King’s eponymous song, which plays over the ending credits, tells the story of four boys in a small town in Oregon who go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing child.

In March 1986, Columbia Pictures, concerned that the original title, The Body, was misleading, renamed the film Stand by Me. According to screenwriter Raynold Gideon, “…it sounded like either a sex film, a bodybuilding film or another Stephen King horror film. Rob came up with Stand by Me, and it ended up being the least unpopular option.”

In 1987, following the success of Stand by Me, Reiner co-founded the film and television production company Castle Rock Entertainment, after the fictional setting of the story.

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