This Week In Film History, 05.19.13

May 19, `Theater opens. The first to leave their marks in cement: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Norma Talmadge.

May 21, 1942:  For the first time, James Cagney attends the premiere of one of his films: the patriotic song-and-dance extravaganza Yankee Doodle Dandy.

May 24, 1946: Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce have their final bow as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Dressed to Kill

May 21, 1952: Within one month of his appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, John Garfield dies of a heart attack at age 39.

May 25, 1957: In the wake of his break-up with partner Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis’ first solo film, The Delicate Delinquent, is released.

May 21, 1958: An apparently unimpressed Universal opens Orson Welles’ since-heralded Touch of Evil on a double bill on neighborhood screens.

May 25, 1977: A week after Time magazine called it “the best film of the summer,” Star Wars opens in wide release and eventually tops record-holder Jaws.

May 25, 1979: Alien, a sci-fi-horror opus, opens big to frightened crowds, as Newsweek critic Jack Kroll claims, “It’ll scare the peanuts out of your M&Ms.” 

May 21, 1983: The concluding film in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Return of the Jedi, debuts.

May 20, 1988: Computer-generated “morphing” effects are used for the first time in director Ron Howard‘s fantasy-adventure Willow

May 24, 1991: Feminist road movie Thelma & Louise, starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, opens to controversy, strong reviews and okay business.

May 23, 1993: The surreal, cyberpunk fantasy Wax, Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees becomes the first film to be transmitted over the Internet. 

May 23, 1994: Quentin Tarantino‘s violent drama Pulp Fiction wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and will go on to reignite the flagging career of co-star John Travolta.

May 19, 1999: The long-awaited Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace sets an opening day box office record of $28.5 million.

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