This Week In Film History, 02.05.12

Movie history by the week featuring Buster Keaton, Charles Chaplin, Howard HughesFebruary 8, 1915: D.W. Griffith‘s Civil War epic, The Birth of a Nation, opens. At a White House screening, President Woodrow Wilson calls it “like writing history with lightning.”

February 8, 1926: The New York Sun is the first to use the term “documentary,” in its review of Robert Flaherty‘s Moana.

February 5, 1927Buster Keaton‘s comedic masterwork The General, based on a true Civil War incident, is released.

February 5, 1936: At the New York premiere of Charles Chaplin‘s Modern Times, riot police are called in to control the crowds trying to see the stars attending the festivities.

February 10, 1940: Cartoon cat-and-mouse antagonists Tom (known in the film as Jasper) and Jerry make their debut in MGM’s Puss Gets the Boot.

February 5, 1943: Producer/ “director” Howard Hughes‘ controversial frontier drama The Outlaw makes a star of his buxom discovery, Jane Russell.

February 6, 1943: A Los Angeles jury finds Errol Flynn not guilty of statutory rape charges made against him by two teenage girls.

February 9, 1960: Groundbreaking ceremonies celebrate Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The first star unveiled belongs to actress Joanne Woodward.

February 8, 1968: Planet of the Apes, which will spawn four sequels, opens, starring Charlton Heston and “simians” Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans.

February 7, 1974: Western movies are never quite the same after Mel Brooks‘ spoof Blazing Saddles tickles audiences with its premiere in Los Angeles.

February 10, 1982: The German WWII submarine drama Das Boot (The Boat) opens in America and becomes the most popular foreign film to date.

February 6, 1985: Just Jaeckin‘s Emmanuelle finishes its record 10-year, 32-week-run at the Paris City Cinema, beating out previous record-holder West Side Story


  • Blair Kramer.

    Regarding Keaton’s “The General”: Would someone please explain to me why a Confederate soldier would be portrayed as a hero in any film, no matter the scenario? As racist as this nation may have been in 1927, even back then, everyone understood what the Civil War was all about. The Confederacy was wrong. And Confederate soldiers were not heroes. And on that note, David Wark Griffith may have been the father of intercutting, but “Birth Of A Nation” was readily recognized as a racist film, even when it was first released in 1915. I suspect that’s the reason why President Wilson enthusiastically embraced it. It is well known that Wilson was a rabid racist!

  • Tony

    UPDATE-The Earth House Collective in Indianapolis will show Where the Wild Things Are on Thursday, March 4, at 7 PM. The cost is $5, atholugh it’s only $2 for Earth House members.