Sex, lies and videotape opens - HISTORY
Year
1989

Sex, lies and videotape opens

On this day in 1989, sex, lies and videotape, which helped usher in the independent film revolution of the early 1990s, opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The film, which starred James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher and Laura San Giacomo, marked the feature-film directorial debut of Steven Soderbergh, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

Set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sex, lies and videotape is about John, a yuppie lawyer (Gallagher) who is married to the sexually repressed Ann (MacDowell) and having an affair with Ann’s free-spirited sister, Cynthia (San Giacomo). John’s old friend Graham (Spader), who later reveals that he videotapes women about their sexual experiences, returns to town and after a series of exchanges, becomes involved with Ann.

Steven Soderbergh, only 26 at the time the film was released, reportedly wrote sex, lies and videotape in a little over a week and shot the movie in one month. The film went on to become a commercial and critical success and won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Sex, lies and videotape was at the forefront of the low-budget independent film movement of the early 1990s, which also included the work of such writer-directors as Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Kevin Smith (Clerks) and Paul Thomas Anderson (Cigarettes & Coffee).

Following the success of sex, lies and videotape, Soderbergh made a string of less well-received films before scoring a hit with 1998’s Out of Sight, which starred George Clooney (who would become a frequent Soderbergh collaborator) and Jennifer Lopez. Soderbergh went on to direct Erin Brockovich (2000), starring Julia Roberts, and the drug-war ensemble drama Traffic (2000). He received Best Director Academy Award nominations for both films, and took home the Oscar statuette for Traffic. Soderbergh’s other directing credits include the blockbuster hit Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and its two sequels, along with such films as Solaris (2002), Full Frontal (2002)and The Good German (2006). In late 2008, he reteamed with Traffic star Benicio Del Toro, who played the title role in Che, Soderbergh’s biopic of the legendary Argentine guerrilla Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Washington becomes Master Mason

George Washington, a young Virginia planter, becomes a Master Mason, the highest basic rank in the secret fraternity of Freemasonry. The ceremony was held at the Masonic Lodge No. 4 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Washington was 21 years old and would soon command his first military ...read more

Slain civil rights workers found

The remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in ...read more

Borden parents found dead

On this day in 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden are found hacked to death in their Fall River, Massachusetts, home. Andrew was discovered in a pool of blood on the living room couch, his face nearly split in two. Abby was upstairs, her head smashed to pieces; it was later determined ...read more

Anne Frank captured

Acting on tip from a Dutch informer, the Nazi Gestapo captures 15-year-old Jewish diarist Anne Frank and her family in a sealed-off area of an Amsterdam warehouse. The Franks had taken shelter there in 1942 out of fear of deportation to a Nazi concentration camp. They occupied ...read more

Secret negotiations are initiated in Paris

The first secret negotiating session takes place between Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuan Thuy, at the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris.Kissinger reiterated an earlier proposal put forth on May 14 for a mutual withdrawal of North ...read more

Custer and 7th Cavalry attacked by Indians

While protecting a railroad survey party in Montana, Custer and his 7th Cavalry clash for the first time with the Sioux Indians, who will defeat them three years later at Little Big Horn.During the previous two years, Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry ...read more

Percy Bysshe Shelley, poet, is born

English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley is born on this day in Sussex, into a wealthy, aristocratic family.Shelley, the heir to his wealthy grandfather’s estate, was educated at Eton and Oxford. But after six months at the university, he was expelled for refusing to admit he ...read more

Philippines hit hard by flooding

Floodwaters finally recede in Luzon, Philippines, on this day in 1972, revealing devastation and hundreds dead. An astounding rainfall in July had caused rivers all over the large island to flood.One storm after another battered Luzon in July 1972. Manila received nearly 70 ...read more

Lizzie Borden took an axe…

Andrew and Abby Borden, elderly residents of Fall River, Massachusetts, are found bludgeoned to death in their home. Lying in a pool of blood on the living room couch, Andrew’s face had been nearly split in two. Abby, Lizzie’s stepmother, was found upstairs with her head smashed ...read more

Union generals squabble outside of Atlanta

A Union operation against Confederate defenses around Atlanta, Georgia, stalls when infighting erupts between Yankee generals.The problem arose when Union General William T. Sherman began stretching his force—consisting of the Army of the Ohio, the Army of the Tennessee, and the ...read more

“Talladega Nights” released

“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” an irreverent comedy based in the outlandish (fictionalized) world of American stock car racing, premieres in movie theaters around the United States on this day in 2006. The comedian Will Ferrell (who also co-wrote the screenplay ...read more