Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1950

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
1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959

The Year 1950
Year
Event and Significance
Early 1950s
Film theater attendance drastically declined due to the rise of television.
1950
Hollywood began to develop ways to counteract free television's gains by the increasing use of color, and by introducing wide-screen films (i.e., CinemaScope, Techniscope, Cinerama, VistaVision, etc.) and gimmicks (i.e., 3-D viewing with cardboard glasses, Smell-O-Vision, etc.).
1950
John Howard Lawson and Dalton Trumbo were imprisoned and the eight remaining members of the Hollywood Ten were convicted of contempt of Congress.
1950
Walt Disney's animated feature film Cinderella (1950), the studio's 12th animated 'classic', was in limited release in New York on February 22, 1950, and in wide-release on March 4, 1950.
1950
The popular comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles M. Schulz, was published for the first time in seven U.S. newspapers in early October of 1950, and ran as a syndicated column until February of 2000, almost 50 years. Many television and film specials featuring the Peanuts characters have aired, including the first of four theatrical feature film releases, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969).
1950
Japanese director Akira Kurosawa released Rashomon (1950, Jp.), a crime mystery about a man's murder and the rape of his wife. The tale was told through the subjective recollections and perspective of four different characters - a template reproduced many times henceforth.
1950
Francis (1950) (aka Francis the Talking Mule) was the first of seven fantasy-comedy films, made by Universal Studios from 1950 to 1956 (the last "Francis" film was Francis in a Haunted House (1956)), featuring Donald O'Connor (in the first six films) as American GI Peter Stirling with his talking sidekick, Francis (voice by Chill Wills). The films inspired the wildly-popular 60s TV series Mister Ed (1961-1966) with a talking horse as the title character (voice of Allan Lane) and Alan Young as Wilbur Post.
1950
Anthony Mann's Winchester '73 (1950), about a man on a quest, initiated a cycle of more serious-minded western films. It was the first of eight films that star James Stewart made with Mann (five of the eight were westerns, including Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), The Far Country (1954), and The Man from Laramie (1955)).
1950
Studio control of stars further eroded when James Stewart signed a precedent-setting independent (or free-lance) contract to share in the box-office profits (45% of the net profits) of the Anthony Mann western Winchester '73 (1950), and for the film version of the stage comedy Harvey (1950). The first-ever back-end deal was negotiated by legendary agent Lew Wasserman. In fact, for all of Stewart's Universal Studios films (including Bend of the River (1952), and The Far Country (1954)), he took no salary in exchange for a large cut of the gross profits -- which turned out to be a very lucrative deal. As a result, he earned increasingly high salaries, became a pioneer of the percentage deal (a performer accepted a reduced or non-existent salary in exchange for a percentage of the box office profits), and was the industry's top box-office star by mid-decade. For Winchester '73 alone, Stewart earned $600,000.
1950
The career of former silent star Gloria Swanson (nominated and lost for Best Actress) was revitalized with the release of Billy Wilder's black comedy Sunset Boulevard (1950). It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three - for Story and Screenplay, B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Score. Swanson was nominated for Best Actress (and lost). Wilder's film was controversial for its unflinching look at the Hollywood studio system and its politics, and for its casting of former and current Hollywood legends as themselves to add a touch of reality (Cecil B. DeMille, Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, Anna Q. Nilsson, H.B. Warner, Ray Evans, Jay Livingston) or a close facsimile (Erich von Stroheim).
1950
The melodramatic, sordid underbelly of theater show biz with dozens of quotable lines, producer Darryl F. Zanuck's All About Eve (1950), earned a then-unmatched record of 14 Academy Award nominations and won six, including Best Picture (Zanuck), Best Director (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), and Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders). Although widely considered to be Bette Davis' best film role as the petulant, angry aging diva Margo Channing -- who uttered one of the most famous lines in film history ("Fasten your seatbelts - it's going to be a bumpy night!") -- she, along with co-star Anne Baxter in the title role of Eve Harrington cancelled each other out and lost Best Actress honors to Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday (1950). Thelma Ritter and Celeste Holm were also nominated in supporting roles, giving All About Eve a record four female acting nominations.
1950
James Dean participated in a Pepsi-Cola commercial - his first acting job (paying $30) that launched his career.
1950
Marlon Brando made his feature film debut in director Fred Zinnemann's The Men (1950), a social conscience film with a message. He played the role of a paralyzed, embittered wheelchair-bound WWII veteran named Lt. "Bud" Ken Wilozek, who experienced physical and emotional trauma (including sexual impotence) due to his serious injuries as he attempted to re-enter society. It was the first instance of Brando's "Method" acting and style.
1950
King's Solomon's Mines (1950) was the first MGM film in the talkie era made without a musical score.
1950
Producer George Pal's Destination Moon (1950) was one of the first science-fiction films to take a serious look at space exploration, with its attempt to provide accurate details about space travel.
1950
Adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale, the family-oriented Treasure Island (1950) was Disney's first completely live-action feature film, and the first screen version of the story made in color. Before 1950, Disney had already released some films that combined live-action and animation, such as Fantasia (1940) and Song of the South (1946).
1950
Animator Jay Ward, working with Alexander Anderson, Jr (whose idea was first turned down at Terrytoon Studios), created the immensely-popular animated, serialized NBC-TV show Crusader Rabbit, through their new company Television Arts Productions. It was the first American animated series produced especially for television. The show originally aired from 1950 -1952 and also had a color version in 1957, with both Lucille Bliss and GeGe Pearson providing the voice of the Don Quixote-like title character. It told about knight-in-armor Crusader Rabbit and his tiger companion Rags, combating nemesis Dudley Nightshade, with episodes ending in a cliffhanger.
1950
Legendary singer/entertainer Al Jolson died at the age of 64 of a heart attack. The brash vaudeville comedian and actor became famous by his appearance in Warners' The Jazz Singer (1927), the first feature-length Hollywood talkie film with some spoken dialogue. His life was commemorated in two musical films: The Jolson Story (1946) in which Jolson's voice was dubbed into Larry Parks' singing, and the sequel Jolson Sings Again (1949).


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