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A Year: Day to Day Men: 26th of December, Solar Year 2017

Effusion of the Color Pink

The day of December 26th was a great day for film buffs. the date marked the premiers of two major films in the genres of comedy and horror.

On December 26, 1940, the romantic comedy film, “The Philadelphia Story” directed by George Cukor, based on the Broadway play of the same name, premiered in New York City. The film starred Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart; it also featured Ruth Hussey in her Academy Award-nominated role of photographer Elizabeth Imbrie.

The film is considered one of the best examples of a comedy of remarriage, a genre popular in the 1930s and 1940s, in which a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry—a useful story-telling ploy at a time when the depiction of extramarital affairs was blocked by the Production Code.

The film was Hepburn’s first big hit following several flops, which had led to her being included on a 1938 list that Manhattan movie theater owner Harry Brandt compiled of actors considered to be “box office poison”. She acquired the film rights to the play, which she had also starred in, with the help of Howard Hughes, in order to control it as a vehicle for her screen comeback. After MGM purchased the film rights they were skeptical about Hepburn’s box office appeal, so Louis B Mayer took an unusual precaution by casting two A-list male stars (Grant and Stewart) to support Hepburn. Nominated for six Academy Awards, the film won two; James Stewart for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart for Best Adapted Screenplay.

On December 26, 1973, “The Exorcist” was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Brothers. The film was initially booked in only twenty-six theaters across the U.S., although it soon became a major commercial success. The film earned ten Academy Award nominations, winning Best Sound Mixing and Best Adapted Screenplay. It became one of the highest-grossing films in history, grossing over $441 million worldwide in the aftermath of various re-releases, and was the first horror film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film was adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name and starred  Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow and Jason Miller. The book, inspired by the 1949 exoticism of Roland Doe, deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film experienced a troubled production; even in the beginning, several prestigious film directors including Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Penn turned it down. Incidents, such as the toddler son of one of the main actors being hit by a motorbike and hospitalized, attracted claims that the set was cursed. The complex special effects used as well as the nature of the film locations also presented severe challenges.

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