This Week in Film History, 04.20.14

April 20, 1903: A judgment on appeal in Edison v. Lubin allows a film to be copyrighted in its entirety, rather than each individual frame. 

April 20, 1909: Broadway star Mary Pickford signs to appear in films for director D.W. Griffith; her first, The Violin Maker of Cremona, opens a few weeks later.

April 24, 1913: With The Bangville Police, the Keystone Kops arrive on scene. Though they’ll last only a few years, they’ll become synonymous with Mack Sennett‘s studio.

April 20, 1938: Roy Rogers‘ first starring western, Under Western Skies, is released by Republic Pictures. 

April 20, 1965: Sidney Lumet‘s The Pawnbroker, starring Rod Steiger, takes its place in Hollywood history as the first mainstream film to include female frontal nudity.

April 23, 1971: Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song opens and will go on to jump start the “blaxploitation” film movement.

April 25, 1971: George C. Scott wins the Best Actor Oscar for Patton, but in a statement declines the award, calling the system “a meat market.”

April 22, 1991: 1960’s Spartacus is reissued, now containing a double-entendre-filled bathhouse scene with Tony Curtis and Laurence Olivier.

April 23, 1992: Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray, responsible for the Apu trilogy and other classics, dies in Calcutta at age 70.

April 25, 2009: Film and TV star Bea Arthur dies at age 82.