Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1916

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919

The Year 1916
Year
Event and Significance
1916
D.W. Griffith's expensive follow-up film to his controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915) was the monumental historical and dramatic epic Intolerance - told with parallel cross-cutting between its four stories, symbolically linked by the image of Lillian Gish rocking a child. Each story told of intolerance and injustice in four different historical periods -- a Modern Story, a French story, a Babylonian story (with the largest set in film history up to its time), and a Biblical story. It was Griffith's attempt to defensively answer and appease his critics with a message of tolerance and good-will, following the uproar over his earlier film. Its film-making techniques would be adopted and displayed in the works of future film-makers, such as Eisenstein and Coppola. With a budget of almost $2 million (the most expensive film of all time), it became the first multi-million dollar box-office 'bomb' in film history.
1916
The Jesse L. Lasky Company merged with its friendly rival, Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company, to form the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation. The corporation consolidated its production and distribution divisions with Paramount, and audiences began seeing "Paramount Pictures." [Paramount Pictures is one of the oldest American motion picture studios. Its logo - a majestic mountain peak - still remains recognizable, making it the oldest surviving Hollywood studio film logo.]
1916
Samuel Goldfish (later renamed Samuel Goldwyn) and Edgar Selwyn established the Goldwyn Company.
1916
The salary of Charlie Chaplin, filmdom's first major star, went from $125 to $10,000 weekly, when he signed on with the Mutual Film Corporation. The deal specified $10,000/week, plus $150,000 as a signing bonus.
1916
Australian-born swimming and diving champ Annette Kellermann (the "Esther Williams of the silent era" who was called "the world's most perfectly-formed woman" and billed as "the Diving Venus") had already gained attention for advocating the scandalous-at-the-time one-piece bathing suit. She caused a further stir when she was seen naked with her flowing hair under a waterfall in Daughter of the Gods (1916) - she was the first major female star to appear nude on screen. This controversial film, Kellermann's second feature film, was also the most expensive film of its decade at $1 million.
1916
Mary Pickford signed the first seven-figure (or "million dollar contract") in Hollywood, a lucrative two-year term guaranteeing $10,000/week against half of the profits, including bonuses and the right of approval of all creative aspects of her films. The contract, specifying that she would get $250,000 per film, was signed with Adolph Zukor at Paramount Pictures.
1916
The first autobiography of a movie star was silent screen star Pearl White's Just Me, published in 1916..
1916
The earliest vampire feature film was director Arthur Robison's German silent film Nachte des Grauens (1916), aka Night of Terror, with strange, vampire-like people.
1916
Lois Weber's controversial drama Where Are My Children? was about the subject of abortion, in a story about a district attorney (Tyrone Power in an early role) who discovered that his wife had used illegal abortion services.
1916
The first film to feature an African-American actor was the short comedy film A Natural Born Gambler (1916), starring Biograph's Bert Williams, a vaudeville comedian who had become known by appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies (joining it in 1911). It was the first time that an African-American produced, wrote, directed, and starred in a film. [Note: Williams was actually born in the Bahamas, and was of mixed descent.]
1916
Thomas Ince's Civilization contained the first original full orchestral and choral film score for an American feature. It composed by American-born Victor Schertzinger (his first film credit).


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