Movie History: A Historic look at movie history week by week, featuring Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate starring a young Dustin Hoffman.
December 19, 1909: The first use of freeze frame for dramatic effect is employed by D.W. Griffith for the film A Corner in Wheat.
December 21, 1923: Cecil B. DeMille’s lavish, big budget biblical epic, The Ten Commandments, makes its premiere to glowing response.
December 21, 1925: Notable for its innovative “montage” shots, Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin has its premiere at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre.
December 21, 1937: Contrary to many predictions, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hollywood’s first feature-length cartoon, opens to rave reviews.
December 21, 1938: Blondie, the first of 28 movies starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake and based on the popular comic strip, opens.
December 19, 1940: The comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello brings their vaudeville banter to the screen in One Night in the Tropics.
December 18, 1966: In defiance of the Production Code’s demands to excise certain scenes, MGM releases Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup without a seal of approval.
December 20, 1967: Thirty-year-old stage actor Dustin Hoffman performs a star-making turn in Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, which premieres today.
December 19, 1971: Stanley Kubrick draws attention with the U.S. release of the X-Rated A Clockwork Orange, which, incidentally, is the first to use the Dolby sound system.
December 22, 1971: Clint Eastwood debuts as Dirty Harry in a role that was once to feature Frank Sinatra. Despite controversy, the film will become a big hit.
December 19, 1986: Platoon, Oliver Stone’s powerful war chronicle spurred by his service as a grunt in Vietnam, opens in limited release.
December 20, 1996: The “teen slasher” genre gets a hip revamping with director Wes Craven’s surprise horror hit Scream.
December 19, 1997: Director James Cameron’s Titanic opens, going on to win 11 Academy Awards and pass Star Wars as the all-time box office champ.