This Week In Film History 02-07-10

February 8, 1915: D.W. Griffith’s Civil War epic, The Birth of a Nation, opens. At a White House screening, President Woodrow Wilson calls 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 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 9, 1960: Groundbreaking ceremonies celebrate Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The first star unveiled belongs to actress Joanne Woodward.

February 8, 1968: Planet of the Apes, which will spawn four sequels, opens, starring Charlton Heston and “simians” Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans.

February 7, 1974: Western movies are never quite the same after Mel Brooks’ spoof Blazing Saddles tickles audiences with its premiere in Los Angeles.

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 10, 1982: The German WWII submarine drama Das Boot (The Boat) opens in America and becomes the most popular foreign film to date.

February 13, 1991: Anthony Hopkins is serial killer Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster an FBI trainee in Jonathan Demme’s intense thriller The Silence of the Lambs.