Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of CS Lewis. You may recall Lewis for the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven books which have started to be turned into a series of movies, first with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (probably the one Narnia book we were most likely to have read as kids since it's the first in the series) in 2005. I have to admit to not following new releases as much as other people, so I didn't know how far along the series has gotten. The third, The Dawn Treader, was already released back in 2010. IMDb lists the fourth, The Silver Chair, as being "announced", while the fifth, The Magician's Nephew is "in development". To be honest, though, other than the Narnia books, CS Lewis has no real relation to classic cinema, so remembering him here is a bit like remembering William Shakespeare on his birth or death anniversary.

Aldous Huxley also died on November 22, 1963, and he has a bigger relationship to classic film. Huxley is undoubtedly best remembered for his novel Brave New World, which as far as I can tell from looking at IMDb hasn't received the feature film treatment. I recall the lousy 1998 TV movie with Leonard Nimoy as Mustapha Mond, and IMDb also lists a 1980 version for NBC here in the States. His short story "The Gioconda Smile" has been filmed several times, including the 1948 Hollywood feature A Woman's Vengeance starring Charles Boyer and Ann Blyth. It was released by Universal-International, so it doesn't show up very often. "The Gioconda Smile" also has nothing to do with 2003's Mona Lisa Smile. More importantly, however, Huxley wrote a couple of screenplays: for the 1940 Laurence Olivier version of Pride and Prejudice, and the 1943 Orson Welles version of Jane Eyre.

Other November 22 deaths of note include Lorenz Hart in 1943; TCM could easily show his biopic Words and Music, in which he was portrayed by Mickey Rooney of all people. There's also character actor Moroni Olsen who died on this day in 1954, and Stooge Shemp Howard, who died November 22, 1955. Oh, and we could add Mae West (died November 22, 1980), and 1930s character actor-turned voice of Winnie the Pooh Sterling Holloway, who died 21 years ago today.


Anonymous said...

You forgot the most significant passing on November 22, 1963 due to the fact that he was the president of the United States and did not die of natural causes as the writers you mention. It was John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But of course, because you are probably a socialist you would not hold Kennedy as something historically important.

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

Somebody's trolling me! How sweet!

Of course, if you've read my blog enough, you'd have gotten the hints I've dropped regarding my political views.