This Week In Film History, 12.19.10

This Week In Film HistoryDecember 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 24, 1906: Considered to be the first feature-length (70 minutes) motion picture, the Australian drama The Story of The Kelly Gang debuts in Melbourne.

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 22, 1933: In only his second film appearance, stage hoofer Fred Astaire finds a dance partner in Ginger Rogers, in RKO’s Flying Down to Rio.

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 21, 1946: Frank Capra‘s It’s a Wonderful Life opens to mixed reviews and fair box office, becoming a holiday classic only after repeated TV airings.

December 25, 1946: On one of his least favorite days of the year– Christmas Day– famed screen comedian/curmudgeon W.C. Fields dies at 67.

December 20, 1967: Thirty-year-old stage actor Dustin Hoffman (article) 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 (article) debuts as Dirty Harry in a role that was once to feature Frank Sinatra. Despite controversy, the film will become a big hit.

December 25, 1977: Actor-director-producer-writer Charles Chaplin, once called “the most recognized face in the world,” dies in London at the age of 88.

December 19, 1986: Platoon, Oliver Stone‘s powerful war chronicle spurred by his service as a grunt in Vietnam, opens in limited release.

December 25, 1990: Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Godfather, Part III opens, 14 years after the second Corleone family saga hit theaters.

December 25, 1992: The Crying Game opens, and Miramax, its distributor, asks critics and audiences not to reveal the film’s big surprise.

December 20, 1996: The “teen slasher” genre gets a hip revamping with director Wes Craven‘s surprise horror hit Scream.