This Week in Film History, 05.25.14

May 28, 1935: Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation unite to form 20th Century Fox, overseen by Joseph Schenck and Darryl F. Zanuck.

May 31, 1938: NBC broadcasts the first feature film on television shown in a single installment, The Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

May 28, 1941:  Animators and artists at the Walt Disney Studios launch an acrimonious two-month strike for pay raises and the right to unionize.

May 26, 1952: The U.S. Supreme Court, declaring movies a form of free speech, strikes down a New York court’s ban on Roberto Rossellini‘s The Miracle.

May 25, 1957: In the wake of his break-up with partner Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis’ first solo film, The Delicate Delinquent, is released.

May 29, 1957: James Whale, 67, British-born director of such seminal horror films as Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, is found dead in his California swimming pool.

May 31, 1971: The body of 46-year-old World War II hero and actor Audie Murphy is discovered in Virginia in the wreckage of a plane crash.

May 25, 1977: A week after Time magazine called it “the best film of the summer,” Star Wars opens in wide release and eventually tops record-holder Jaws.

May 25, 1979: Alien, a sci-fi-horror opus, opens big to frightened crowds, as Newsweek critic Jack Kroll claims, “It’ll scare the peanuts out of your M&Ms.”

May 29, 1979: “America’s Sweetheart” and silent screen legend Mary Pickford dies at the age of 87 in Santa Monica, California.

May 29, 1987: Director John Landis is acquitted of manslaughter charges stemming from 1982’s Twilight Zone–The Movie helicopter accident.

May 27, 1995: An equestrian accident leaves Superman star Christopher Reeve paralyzed from the neck down. The actor will be confined to a wheelchair until his death in 2004.

May 26, 2008: Filmmaker Sydney Pollack, who won a Best Director Oscar for 1985’s Out of Africa, dies at age 73.

May 29, 2010: Actor/director Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider, Hoosiers) dies from prostate cancer two weeks after turning 74.