This week in history: 23rd – 29th December

A projector called the cinematographe is being shown.

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The 28th December marks the anniversary of the very first screening of a commercial movie. The film, was created by French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere, who had earlier developed a camera projector called the “Cinematographe”, premièred at the Grand Cafe, Paris in 1985. The event featured ten short films, including their first film, “Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon” (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory).

This week in also saw the premiere of one of the scariest films of all time, The Exorcist, opened its doors to audiences for the first time in (Dec 23) 1973.

The Exorcist also shares its release date with the 1993 film Philadelphia. The film, which has been reviewed some critics as ground breaking due to its focus on AIDs which had not yet been seen by audiences, starred Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Philadelphia highlights and questions misconceptions about homosexuality and the disease.

If you have any more fun, interesting or just plain silly facts from this week in history, please tweet us at @inside_film

This week in history: 16th – 22nd December

Image featured is a still from the movie Saturday Night Fever. Pictured is John Trovolta combing and blow drying his hair in the mirror.
Image featured is a still from the movie Saturday Night Fever. Pictured is John Trovolta combing and blow drying his hair in the mirror.

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America caught Saturday Night Fever on 16th December 1977, with the release of John Travolta’s first step into stardom. Travolta played a young man who danced away all his troubles of the time, whilst wearing his glamorous white suit. A global disco phenomenon soon followed.

December 17th 1946 saw the birth of Eugene Levy, better known as Jim’s dad from the American Pie movies. Being gifted with the uncanny ability to portray an embarrassing and out of touch father, Eugene Levy has starred in very similar roles in other films such as Splash and Taking Woodstock.

On the same year as the release of Saturday Night Fever, Jacques Tourneur passed away on the 19th of December.Known as one of the greatest directors of the golden age of Hollywood, Jacques directed such classic B-movie horror films as I walked with a Zombie and Cat People.

This week in history: 9th – 15th December

Alan RIckman carries a discheveled Kate Winslet through a grassy field
Alan RIckman carries a discheveled Kate Winslet through a grassy field

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Almost half a century ago on December 11th 1967, Stanley Kramer’s comedy Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was released. The film pushed boundaries by positively portraying an interracial marriage between Joanna (Katherine Houghton) the daughter of a liberal upper-class parents, and John (Sidney Poiter) a young black physician.

This was rare for a film at the time, in 1967 interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 states of the USA. Sidney Poiter was also the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.

On December 13th 1995, Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility was released, it was the first cinematic Austen adaptation in 50 years. The adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel has a large cast of well known actors, including a young Emma Thompson, a very young Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman.

Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay for the film. While working on the script her computer developed a problem and she lost the file. She took the computer to Stephen Fry for help. After seven hours he managed to retrieve the file.

This week in history: 2nd – 8th December

Walt Disney looking sketching characters
Olaf the snowman looking at a flower growing out of the snow

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On the 5th of December, 1901, Walt Disney was born in Hermosa, Chicago. As we all know, he would grow up to be one of the most successful animated film figures of all time, with a multi-billion dollar media corporation carrying his name.

The Walt Disney Company now owns five holiday resorts, eleven theme parks, thirty nine hotels, two water parks, eight motion picture studios, six record labels, eleven cable television networks and one terrestrial television network. In 2007, the company had an annual revenue of over U.S. $35 billion. Talk about a legacy. This year, the Disney Film Frozen won an Oscar for Best Animated Film. The legacy of Walt Disney clearly lives on.

Skip forward to 1957. On the 5th of December a film named Sayonara was released. This film dealt with issues of racism and prejudice towards Asian-American women, a large problem at the time.

It received widespread critical acclaim at the time, particularly for its writing and cinematography, in addition to the acting ability of its cast. It won four Academy Awards; Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Red Buttons), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Miyoshi Umeki), Best Art Direction/Set Direction (Ted Haworth and Robert Priestley) and Best Sound (George Groves).