Vintage Pulp Dec 26 2008
EARTHLY POSSESSIONS
The Exorcist is 35 today, but looks as good as ever.

It was released today in 1973, and it implanted into happy holiday audiences enough nightmare material to last seven lifetimes. Half its tricks have since been stolen by other films, and the other half can’t be—because they can’t be shot legally on American soil anymore. The scene in which Linda Blair stabs her own nether regions repeatedly with a crucifix would make it past neither the test audiences nor the deciders in Hollywood’s executive suites. And even if it did the moral police at the MPAA would slap an NC-17 on it. That’s one of the reasons we love the 70s so much—what was produced then was uniquely daring and artistically viable.

Even though The Exorcist was based on a William Peter Blatty novel that sold like a billion copies, its success was surprising. It scored two Oscar nominations—one for director William Friedkin and another for Best Picture. It was beaten in both categories by The Sting, in a decision that marks something of a watershed for the Academy’s own artistic viability. Not that The Sting wasn’t good—it was. But history has made its judgment now, and few would argue that, of the two films, The Exorcist hasn’t been more influential, more imitated and, ultimately, more beloved.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 21
1918—The Red Baron Is Shot Down
German WWI fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, better known as The Red Baron, sustains a fatal wound while flying over Vaux sur Somme in France. Von Richthofen, shot through the heart, manages a hasty emergency landing before dying in the cockpit of his plane. His last word, according to one witness, is "Kaputt." The Red Baron was the most successful flying ace during the war, having shot down at least 80 enemy airplanes.
1964—Satellite Spreads Radioactivity
An American-made Transit satellite, which had been designed to track submarines, fails to reach orbit after launch and disperses its highly radioactive two pound plutonium power source over a wide area as it breaks up re-entering the atmosphere.
April 20
1939—Holiday Records Strange Fruit
American blues and jazz singer Billie Holiday records "Strange Fruit", which is considered to be the first civil rights song. It began as a poem written by Abel Meeropol, which he later set to music and performed live with his wife Laura Duncan. The song became a Holiday standard immediately after she recorded it, and it remains one of the most highly regarded pieces of music in American history.
April 19
1927—Mae West Sentenced to Jail
American actress and playwright Mae West is sentenced to ten days in jail for obscenity for the content of her play Sex. The trial occurred even though the play had run for a year and had been seen by 325,000 people. However West's considerable popularity, already based on her risque image, only increased due to the controversy.
1971—Manson Sentenced to Death
In the U.S, cult leader Charles Manson is sentenced to death for inciting the murders of Sharon Tate and several other people. Three accomplices, who had actually done the killing, were also sentenced to death, but the state of California abolished capital punishment in 1972 and neither they nor Manson were ever actually executed.
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