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Film History + Thanksgiving = ..........
by Christa Cannon

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Action-packed! Suspenseful! And realistic!

Action-packed! Suspenseful! And realistic!
Something Only I Could Come Up With!

Since today is Thanksgiving, I wanted to play on that theme, without resorting to a discussion of movies with a Thanksgiving/pilgrim/Native American theme. So I sat down and thought--aloud, of course, because that's how I roll--"What events in film am I most thankful for?"

This is in no way complete, and you may not agree with some of what I've chosen. But what follows are events that I'm grateful for--they've helped shape today's cinema.


This was the decade of experimentation, of trial and error. Trying to figure out what people liked and how to make it happen!

In 1901, Georges Milies introduces special effects in the first sci-fi film, LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE.

In 1903 Thomas Edison's THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, directed by Edwin Porter, was the first to use multiple camera positions, filming out of sequence, and editing. It also started the narrative film.

1907 saw the first filmmakers move out to California for the favourable climate and natural scenery.


We got our first "real" films and people tried to push their limits a bit during this decade.

In 1910, Hollywood first purchased the rights to adapt a novel from a publisher. Also, Carl Laemmle set up the Independent Motion Picture Company to counteract the monopoly of Motion Pictures Patents Company.

1913: D.W. Griffith defines the art of motion pictures--altering camera angles, using close-ups, and breaking scenes up into multiple shots.

In 1915, his BIRTH OF A NATION introduced historical epics and the period piece.


We got our first "stars" in Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Clara Bow, and Charlie Chaplin. Celebrities were starting to be put on a pedestal and people basked in their glamour.

The first feature-length talkie came out in 1927. THE JAZZ SINGER changed the film medium forever.

That same year, the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences was founded. Douglas Fairbanks was its first president, and they gave out their first awards in 1929.

In 1929, Alfred Hitchcock produced his first sound film, BLACKMAIL.


The Great Depression produced Hollywood's Golden Age, with movies made for everyone to escape into. Some of our favourite stars came out of this decade: Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, and Ginger Rogers. The decade also introduced crime-gangster films that gained in popularity.

In 1934, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT swept the Oscars, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay...and created a brand new genre: the romantic comedy.

1937 saw SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS become the first animated feature film. That was also the year of the first pairing of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney--forces to be reckoned with!

1939 has been called "The Greatest Year in Film History" by historians, film buffs, critics, and the general audience. Just look at some of the films to come out that
*sigh* The Golden Age of Hollywood...

*sigh* The Golden Age of Hollywood...
year: GONE WITH THE WIND, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, NINOTCHKA, THE WIZARD OF OZ, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, DARK VICTORY...the list goes on and on. GONE WITH THE WIND took home 8 Oscars, a record at the time. One of those was given to the delightful Hattie McDaniel, who has the distinction to be the first African American to win an Oscar (Best Supporting).


During this decade, The Office of War declared that movies were essential for morale and propaganda. In fact, one of the questions it wanted studios to ask themselves was, "Will this movie help win the war?"

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin's first talkie came out--THE GREAT DICTATOR.

At the age of 24, Orson Welles acted in and directed CITIZEN KANE in 1941. The movie was noted for its creative experiments with sound, flashbacks, and cinematography. Another new creation that year was film noir, emerging with THE MALTESE FALCON.

That same year, Bette Davis became the first female president of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lena Horne became the first African American woman to sign a long-term contract with a major studio in 1942. Baby steps...baby steps.


The 50s may be best known for all the "brilliant" sci-fi that came out of this decade! INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THEM!, and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD were some favourites.

1951 was the first year in which the Best Picture Oscar was given to the producers of the film, rather than the studio that released it.

In1954, Akiro Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI reinvented the western film genre. (John Sturges remade it in 1960 as THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.)


The 60s were a great decade for musicals! I will pull my hair out if you haven't seen CAMELOT, HAIR, HELLO DOLLY, OLIVER!, MAN OF LA MANCHA, FUNNY GIRL, and everyone's favourite: THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Movies during this period also became more political, with flicks like DR. STRANGELOVE. Previous taboos such as sex, violence, and language were explored--thus, so was censorship and a new code by the MPAA.

In 1960 the mother of all modern horror suspense movies came out: PSYCHO.

In 1964, Sidney Poitier won the Best Actor award for LILIES OF THE FIELD. He was the first African American male to win an Oscar.

In 1968, George A. Romero created many a zombie fan when he came out with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.


New technology was introduced with Panavision and Dolby sound! Not to mention the special effects found in the sci-fi adventure STAR WARS! That blew everyone's mind in the 70s, didn't it? There were also a lot of films made about the war in Vietnam, such as COMING HOME, THE DEER HUNTER, and APOCALYPSE NOW.

In 1972, Francis Ford Coppola made film history when THE GODFATHER reinvented the gangster drama.

NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE came out in 1978, becoming one of the first films to target teenage audiences.


The me, Me, ME Decade!!! The 80s produced
History in the making ...about d*** time!

History in the making ...about d*** time!

In 1981, Katharine Hepburn won her fourth Oscar, the first performer to win that many Best Actress awards!

That same year, THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY became the biggest box office success in history, breaking records when it went international in 1984.

Robert Redford founded The Sundance Institute in 1985, dedicated to new independent films.

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? came out in 1988 and broke technological ground with its combination of animation and live action.


Everything was bigger and better--we began to see mega-movie houses with up to 24 theatres and stadium seating. It was also a huge decade for historical dramas or period pieces. Just look at these Best Picture winners: SCHINDLER'S LIST, BRAVEHEART, THE ENGLISH PATIENT, and TITANIC.

In 1990, New Line Cinema founded a specialty art house division named Fine Line Features.

The following year, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST became the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Film.

In 1993, PHILADELPHIA became the first major studio film to confront the AIDS issue. I only wonder why it took that long?

By the end of the decade, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT introduced the mockumentary and became the most profitable film in Hollywood history.


This current decade has seen many advances, as well as setbacks. For instance, why are we still taking baby steps on certain issues or themes?

In 2000, the emerging films of China sparked a great interest in that country's film when CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON came out.

2001 was a big year for epic adventure nerds like me! Within a couple months of each other, the first HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS movies came out.

2002 was a big year in Oscar history:

Finally, the Best Actor and Actress Oscars were awarded to African Americans. Denzel Washington and Halle Berry walked away with their awards, knowing they'd made a place in history. Halle Berry became the first African American woman to win the Best Actress award.

SPIRITED AWAY became the first anime feature to win an Oscar.

And CHICAGO was the first musical to win the Best Picture award since OLIVER! in 1968.

In 2006, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN became the most-honoured film in cinematic history. And showed us a new kind of love story...hopefully it won't be the last!

2007 has been a fabulous year for film--I can't wait till the Oscars! It's also a year that will always be mentioned in film history: The WGA Strike--We're All on the Same Page. Whether you agree or disagree that what they're doing is a good thing, it will change the future of cinema, television, and the internet.

What are your favourite moments in film history? Do you agree with some of my choices?

Oh and by the way--Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! To the rest of you, Happy Thursday. :)

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Cannon Fodder
Every other Thursday

Stream-of-conscious ruminations on whatever pops into Christa's head.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christa Cannon:

Summer Madhouse...oh, I mean "Magic."

The Perils of Errol

Deja Vu...

Steeee-rrrrike Two!

Wait...this isn't a comedy?

All Columns

Christa Cannon
Christa would prefer to live in a world where everyone breaks out into song and dance. Um, and also one in which she is rich and very famous.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christa Cannon by clicking here.

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