This Week in Film History: 12/20/15

December 24, 1906: Considered to be the first feature-length (70 minutes) motion picture, the Australian drama The Story of The Kelly Gang debuts in Melbourne.

December 26, 1913: Less than two years after the sinking of the Titanic, the disaster comes to the screen as the basis for the lavish Danish drama Atlantis.

December 21, 1923Cecil B. DeMille’s lavish, big budget biblical epic, The Ten Commandments, makes its premiere to glowing response.

December 21, 1925: Notable for its innovative “montage” shots, Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin has its premiere at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre.

December 22, 1932: One year after playing the Frankenstein Monster, Boris Karloff cements his role as Universal’s horror king as The Mummy.

December 23, 1932: MGM’s Rasputin and the Empress, premiering today, marks the only joint screen appearance of Barrymore siblings Ethel, John and Lionel.

December 21, 1933: After winning a role in Stand Up and Cheer, five-year-old Shirley Temple is signed to a one-year contract by Fox Pictures. Her salary is $150 per week.

December 22, 1933: In only his second film appearance, stage hoofer Fred Astaire finds the perfect dance partner in Ginger Rogers, in RKO’s Flying Down to Rio.

December 21, 1937: Contrary to many predictions, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Hollywood’s first feature-length cartoon, opens to rave reviews.

December 21, 1937: Stage and film comic Ted Healy, who assembled the trio that would go on to become The Three Stooges, dies at 41 from injuries sustained in a nightclub brawl.

December 21, 1938: Blondie, the first of 28 movies starring Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake and based on the popular comic strip, opens.

December 22, 1944: Baby-faced silent funnyman Harry Langdon, whose popularity once rivaled Chaplin’s and Keaton’s, passes away at 60.

December 21, 1946Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life opens to mixed reviews and fair box office, becoming a holiday classic only after repeated TV airings.

December 25, 1946: On one of his least favorite days of the year– Christmas Day– famed screen comedian/curmudgeon W.C. Fields dies at 67.

December 26, 1951: Akira Kurosawa’s landmark drama Rashomon is released in the U.S. and will set off a wave of interest in Japanese cinema in the West.

December 22, 1956: Producer Michael Todd’s lavish adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days premieres in Hollywood; its star-filled scenes help popularize the term “cameo appearance.”

December 25, 1964: “Bondmania” reaches a fever pitch in America with the release of the third 007 thriller, Goldfinger with Sean Connery.

December 20, 1967: Thirty-year-old stage actor Dustin Hoffman performs a star-making turn in Mike Nichols‘ The Graduate, which premieres today.

December 22, 1971: Clint Eastwood debuts as Dirty Harry in a role that was once to feature Frank Sinatra. Despite controversy, the film will become a big hit.

December 26, 1973: The Exorcist opens on a limited basis around the country. The supernatural shocker causes a sensation, eventually grossing $165 million.

December 20, 1974: The screen saga of the Corleone clan continues, as Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Part II debuts.

December 26, 1974: Stage, television and movie comic legend (and sometime violinist) Jack Benny dies in Beverly Hills at the age of 79…not 39, as he might have claimed.

December 25, 1977: Actor-director-producer-writer Charles Chaplin, once called “the most recognized face in the world,” dies in London at the age of 88.

December 26, 1977: Howard Hawks, whose directorial resume ran the gamut from Bringing Up Baby to Red River, dies at the age of 81.

December 25, 1990: Coppola’s The Godfather, Part III opens, 14 years after the second Corleone family saga hit theaters.

December 22, 1993Johnathan Demme’s powerful AIDS-themed drama Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington, opens.

December 20, 1996: The “teen slasher” genre gets a hip revamping with director Wes Craven‘s surprise horror hit Scream.

December 23, 1997: Filmmaker Woody Allen, 62, marries 27-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, adopted daughter of his longtime girlfriend Mia Farrow.

December 23, 2000: Diminutive actor Billy Barty, whose movie and TV career spanned nine decades, dies of heart failure at 76.

December 24, 2012: Actor Jack Klugman, last of the 1957 film’s 12 Angry Men, passes away at 90.