What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City.

The short film What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City was released in August, 1901.

Depicting a couple walking down the street in New York, the woman’s skirts are lifting by air when she walks over a grate.

While it only runs for 77 seconds, the film is credited with providing inspiration for similar scenes in movies in the decades afterwards.

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On this day…

People magazine cover from the 1st of April, 1985. Featured are English actress Jacqueline Bisset and her then partner Alexander Godunov. Godunov was a Soviet ballet star who defected in the late 1970s, becoming a featured actor in Hollywood until his shock death a decade after this picture was taken.

Alexander Godunov People 21st April 1985 Cover

Victoria the Great – for fans of anything Victorian

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I commented on the new television series, Victoria, and how horrified I was by the deliberate changes to history (such as making a teenage girl’s ageing mentor her love interest!).

Recently a different version of Queen Victoria’s life was on television: Victoria the Great, released in 1937 on the centenary of the real queen’s ascension to the throne.

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Victoria being woken early to be informed she is now queen.

The movie version and a 19th century depiction of the moment.

Now, I don’t usually expect much of films from the 1930s (though Gone with the Wind has some spectacular crowd scenes that hold up today).

So how surprised I was to realise this old movie was the best interpretation of Queen Victoria’s life I’ve seen!

Actual, recorded historical moments are recreated beautifully, and accurately. I even learnt a few things – yes, I checked that they were true.

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The queen’s (played by Anna Neagle), and Prince Albert’s (played by Anton Walbrook, all the way down to his dorky hair) costumes and hairstyles are spot-on. In an era where historical licence was practically expected, the people working on this film have all but recreated the costumes from official portraits.

The sets and filming locations are spectacular, even in black and white. Unlike so many “historical” movies today, the dances are accurate for the period (Anna Karenina, I’m looking at you!), and the women have their hair pinned up! The forms of transport they use (such as the early train they depart London on) look accurate to me.

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I usually sit and nit-pick when watching historical dramas, but I couldn’t find much to complain about here.

I never liked The Young Victoria. For all the praise heaped on it, neither Emily Blunt or Rupert Friend suited their roles, and the less said about the horrific rewriting of history in the more recent Victoria, the better.

So far, this eighty-year-old film is my favourite version of the life of Britain’s most famous queen. I’m not sure how easy it is to track down these days, but it’s worth a watch.

In its time, Victoria the Great was so successful a second film was immediately made.

On this day: the premiere of an anti-Nazi film

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You Nazty Spy!, the first Hollywood film made with an anti-Nazi sentiment, premiered on the 19th of January, 1940.

Featuring The Three Stooges, it satirised Nazi Germany at a time when Americans had still not entered the Second World War, and the country remained neutral.

Some American politicians, such as Burton Wheeler and Gerald Nye, were offended by the anti-Nazi sentiment in the production, seeing it as war propaganda.

Of course, their attitudes changed completely twenty-three months later, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

On this day: the premiere of Metropolis

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Iconic futuristic German film Metropolis premiered on the 10th of January, 1927.

Filmed in 1925 but set in the year 2026, the film is set in a city with ruling elites and poor workers living beneath them.

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The film’s New Tower of Babel. X

Containing ground-breaking special effects, the film’s initial budget was 1.5 million reichsmarks, but increased to 5.1 million. Stories of the director forcing long working hours in difficult conditions on the actors (including 500 children) emerged from the set.

Metropolis regularly makes film critics’ lists of history’s greatest movies.

On this day: the premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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On the 21st of December, 1937, Disney’s first feature-length film premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.

Guests at the premiere included Charlie Chaplin, Shirley Temple, Marlene Dietrich, Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant.

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Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs went on to receive Oscar and Grammy nominations, and won an award at the Venice Film Festival.

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The film’s general release came in February the following year.