February 8, 1915: D.W. Griffith’s controversial Civil War epic, The Birth of a Nation, opens. At a White House screening, President Woodrow Wilson is said to call it “like writing history with lightning.”
February 8, 1926: The New York Sun is the first to use the term “documentary,” in its review of Robert Flaherty’s Moana.
February 14, 1927: Director Alfred Hitchcock first tries his hand at suspense with The Lodger, based on the Jack the Ripper murders.
February 14, 1931: Playing a role he made all his own on Broadway for three years, Bela Lugosi is Dracula, in Tod Browning’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic novel.
February 10, 1940: Cartoon cat-and-mouse antagonists Tom (known in the film as Jasper) and Jerry make their debut in MGM’s Puss Gets the Boot.
February 13, 1959: Two weeks into the shooting of Spartacus, producer/star Kirk Douglas fires director Anthony Mann and replaces him with Stanley Kubrick.
February 12, 1976: Rebel Without a Cause co-star Sal Mineo, 37, is found stabbed to death in the parking lot outside his West Hollywood apartment.
February 8, 1980: Protests over its depiction of the gay community meet the New York premiere of William Friedkin’s drama Cruising, starring Al Pacino.
February 10, 1982: The German WWII submarine drama Das Boot (The Boat) opens in America and becomes the most popular foreign film to date.
February 8, 1986: Director John Woo’s violent crime drama A Better Tomorrow, which boosts the Hong Kong action genre and makes Chow-Yun Fat a star, opens.
February 12, 1993: Ten days after the holiday it’s named for, the time-skipping comedy Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, opens.
February 9, 2004: “Snack King” Samuel M. Rubin, who as a teen made popcorn a staple for Depression-era movie audiences, dies in Florida at the age of 85.
February 8, 2014: Former child star Shirley Temple (Curly Top, Heidi), who won the hearts of moviegoers in the 1930s, passes away at 85.
February 12, 2014: Comic actor Sid Caesar, co-star of TV’s Your Show of Shows and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, dies at 91.