This Week In Film History, 07.31.11

August 6, 1926: The first film released with Vitaphone sound, Warner Bros.’ Don Juan, features sound effects and an orchestral score.

July 31, 1928: Audiences first hear MGM mascot Leo the Lion’s mighty roar with the studio’s first sound film, White Shadows in the South Seas.

August 3, 1929: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo, the Marx Brothers, make their film debuts in Paramount’s The Cocoanuts.

August 6, 1932: The world’s first film festival begins as part of the Venice Biennale, with A Nous la Liberte considered “most entertaining.”

August 4, 1956: The concluding chapter in the history of movie serials is written with the release of the genre’s final entry, Columbia’s Blazing the Overland Trail.

August 6, 1959: Preston Sturges, screenwriter/director of The Lady Eve, Sullivan’s Travels and other distinctive farces of the ’40s, dies at age 60.

August 5, 1962: The body of Marilyn Monroe, 36, is discovered by her maid in the bedroom of her Brentwood, Ca., home, the victim of an apparent drug overdose.

August 3, 1965: British actress Julie Christie‘s star continues to rise with her performance as an ambitious, self-absorbed fashion model in John Schlesinger‘s Darling.

August 6, 1969: The first mainstream studio film to be directed by an African-American, Gordon ParksThe Learning Tree, based on his novel, is released.

August 1, 1973: American Graffiti, George Lucas‘ nostalgic time capsule, opens. The cast of then-unknowns includes Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford.

August 2, 1976: Fritz Lang, the Austrian-born helmer of Metropolis and The Big Heat, dies in Los Angeles at the age of 85.

July 31, 1987: Timothy Dalton takes over the role of secret agent James Bond with the 007 adventure The Living Daylights.

August 6, 1992: Harold Russell sells one of the two Oscars he won for The Best Years of Our Lives for $60,500 at an auction.