This Week in Film History: 4/26/15

April 30, 1912: Five motion picture outfits–key among them Carl Laemmle’s IMP studio–merge to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, forerunner of Universal Pictures.

May 2, 1921: Dream Street, the first feature film with sound (thanks to director D.W. Griffith’s introduction on a synchronized record), opens at a specially equipped New York theatre

May 2, 1926: Former USC football player “Duke” Morrison–later known as John Wayne–has his screen debut, a bit part in the college gridiron drama Brown of Harvard.

April 30, 1927: A few weeks before the opening of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, part-owners Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford leave their footprints in cement.

May 2, 1929: Venerable British crimesolver Bulldog Drummond makes his sound debut, with Ronald Colman in the title role

April 27, 1930: From Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, Lewis Milestone films All Quiet on the Western Front, a harsh look at the futility of war.

April 30, 1938: An early rendition of what is to become the character of Bugs Bunny first appears in Warner Bros.’ Porky’s Hare Hunt.

May 1, 1941: Denied a playdate at Radio City Music Hall, Orson Welles’ much-talked-about Citizen Kane opens at the RKO Palace in New York City.

April 29, 1944: The 221st and final Our Gang comedy short, Dancing Romeo, is released by MGM. Television will reignite interest in the years to come.

May 1, 1945: Radio City Music Hall officials deem newsreel footage of the liberation of German concentration camps “too gruesome” for exhibition.

May 2, 1947: Believe it or not, 20th Century-Fox chose today to open what many call the quintessential Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street.

April 29, 1951: Audiences are told to “Keep watching the skies!” as the sci-fi thriller The Thing from Another World opens.

May 1, 1949: MGM removes Judy Garland from the title role in Annie Get Your Gun and replaces her with Betty Hutton.

April 27, 1950: Louis B. Mayer fires Frank Sinatra from his MGM contract, allegedly for an overheard studio commissary wisecrack Frank made about Mayer’s girlfriend.

April 26, 1954: Akira Kurosawa’s seminal swordplay saga, Seven Samurai, debuts in Tokyo.

April 27, 1956: Stateside audiences get their first look at Japan’s biggest “star” with the  re-edited U.S. version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters.

May 2, 1957: A new (and bloodier) era in screen horror is launched by England’s Hammer Films’ Curse of Frankenstein, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

April 28, 1972: Ralph Bakshi‘s Fritz the Cat, based on Robert Crumb’s comic and the world’s first X-rated cartoon feature, debuts in New York.

April 29, 1980: Master of screen suspense Alfred Hitchcock dies at the age of 80, three months after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

May 2, 1997: “Yeah, baby!” The ’60s spy film genre is spoofed by writer/star Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.

May 1, 2000: Bodybuilder-turned-screen Hercules Steve Reeves, star of countless European “sword-and-sandal” films, dies at the age of 74.

May 2, 2008: Robert Downey, Jr. flies onto the screen as Marvel Comics’ Iron Man with a $98 million opening weekend.

April 30, 2013: Deanna Durbin, Universal Pictures’ 1930s and ’40s “singing sweetheart,” passes away at age 91.

April 29, 2014: British actor Bob Hoskins (Mona Lisa, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) dies at 71.