This Week in Film History, 12.29.13

January 1, 1900: French film pioneer Charles Pathé releases the historical re-enactment Episodes of the Transvaal War in Paris.

December 31, 1903: Capital Execution is the first feature from what will be a thriving Danish film industry, until its decline during World War I.

December 29, 1913:  Chapter One of the first true serial, a continuous storyline told in sequential chapters, The Adventures of Kathlyn, is released.

January 2, 1932: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Fredric March in the dual title roles, opens; March will go on to win a Best Actor Oscar, the first by a horror film star.

December 31, 1941:  Following the lukewarm reception to her comedy Two-Faced Woman, Greta Garbo announces her retirement from acting.

January 1, 1951: 300 Chicago households take part in the first TV pay-per-view movie system. For $1, they can watch 1948’s April Showers, with Jack Carson.

December 30, 1953: Marlon Brando creates a new screen archetype-the leather-clad, motorcycle-riding delinquent-when he stars as The Wild One.

January 1, 1954: In his essay “A Certain Tendency in French Cinema” in Cahiers du Cinema, 21-year-old critic Francois Truffaut plants the seed for his “auteur theory.”

January 4, 1954: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of film distributors to confine first-run engagements to downtown theaters.

January 2, 1963: Actor/director Dick Powell, whose roles ranged from musicals (42nd Street) to noir thrillers (Murder, My Sweet), dies at age 58.

January 2, 1974: Tex Ritter, beloved singing cowpoke star of dozens of “B” oaters from the ’30s and ’40s, dies of a heart attack in Nashville at age 68.

January 1, 1980: A long-established glass ceiling gives way when Sherry Lansing is made president of 20th Century-Fox, the first woman to head a major studio.

December 28, 1984: Director Sam Peckinpah, master of action cinema violence (The Wild Bunch), dies of heart failure at 59.