In a very unhappy 40th anniversary reminder, the mass murder – suicide that killed over 900 persons in Jonestown, Guyana took place today on November 18th, 1978. Preacher and false prophet Jim Jones ordered the mass ingestion of cyanide laced Kool-Aid by the families of his People’s Temple cult, murdering those who failed to comply. The mass deaths were triggered following a visit by a U.S. delegation who arrived to investigate human rights abuses taking place in Jonestown. Ultimately, 918 people died, of which 304 were children.
And the hits just keep on rolling…
40 years ago today, on November 17, 1978, CBS aired the ill-advised, poorly received “Star Wars Holiday Special”. Made without the approval of creator George Lucas, the network rushed out this mish-mash of Star Wars nonsense to capitalize on the Star Wars frenzy that was still well under way at the time.
You can watch it below (if you dare)…
Long before director Peter Jackson came along with his epic “The Lord Of The Rings” series at the start of the 21st century, there had been several other attempts to bring author J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast fantasy tale to audiences.
40 years ago today, on November 15th, 1978, director Ralph Bakshi brought a full length, animated version of “The Lord Of The Rings” to the big screen. While it received mixed to poor reviews from critics, the movie was an overall success raking in $30.5 million dollars at the box office on a $4 million dollar budget.
The film is notable for its extensive use of rotoscoping, a technique in which scenes are first shot in live-action, then traced onto animation cels. It uses a hybrid of traditional cel animation and rotoscoped live action footage. The 1978 version of The Lord Of The Rings was also one of the first films to utilize the new Dolby stereo surround system.
For those who had never read Tolkien’s books, this version of LOTR was THE official version until The Fellowship Of The Ring arrived in theaters in 2001.
40 years ago, the film “Midnight Express” was released in theaters on October 27, 1978. Starring Brad Davis, Randy Quaid and John Hurt, the movie detailed the story of an American student who is sent to prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey. In that country, he lives through the conditions of a brutal, inhumane penal system. Midnight Express went on to be nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and won 2 for Adapted Screenplay and Original Music Score.
It would be remiss of us not to mention the greatest of all time in a boxing themed blog day. That would be the late Muhammad Ali; he who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.
40 years ago today, on September 15th, 1978, Muhammad Ali became the first boxer ever to be a three time heavyweight champion as he defeated Leon Spinks for the title at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The fight was estimated to have been watched by a record 2 billion viewers worldwide in 80 countries. Ali won by unanimous decision, avenging a split decision loss to Spinks in their first fight seven months earlier.
Although he would fight a couple of times more, this was the final victory in Ali’s illustrious career. The Greatest had set a new milestone in his last shining moment.
Yup, every boxing fight in history is the biggest at that moment…
40 years ago today, September 13, 1978, the Terrence Malick film “Days Of Heaven” was released. Starring Richard Gere, Brooke Adams and Sam Shepard, the movie told the story of a couple who head west to Texas to work as harvesters for a rich farmer. The boyfriend (Gere) tells his significant other (Adams) to trick the farmer (Shepard), who is dying, into a false marriage in order to claim his fortune. A beautiful romantic drama, the film is known for its absolutely gorgeous cinematography and a mesmerizing musical score by Ennio Morricone.
Lies and false claims. Seems to be the theme of the day. And, oh the irony of the title of the movie…
Comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong launched their movie careers 40 years ago today on August 11th, 1978 with the release of “Up In Smoke”. Here is the original film trailer: