Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1952

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 1952
Year
Event and Significance
1952
To avoid losing the battle with television, Hollywood counter-attacked with 3-D films. The first feature-length 3-D (stereoscopic) sound film released was the indie film Bwana Devil (1952) distributed by UA, inspiring a flood of other quickly (and often cheaply made), but sometimes successful 3-D features. The 'golden age' of 3-D was ushered in from 1952-1955, with films such as Robot Monster (1953), It Came From Outer Space (1953), Columbia's Man in the Dark (1953), and House of Wax (1953). [The first feature-length 3-D film was the silent film The Power of Love (1922), a lost film.]
1952
Paramount's wrap-around, big-screen Cinerama debuted - a break-through technique that required three cameras, three projectors, interlocking, semi-curved (at 146 degrees) screens, and four-track stereo sound. A travelogue of the world's vacation spots, with a thrilling roller-coaster ride was shown in This Is Cinerama - it premiered as the first Cinerama film shown to the public. Paramount's wrap-around, big-screen Cinerama was the first real widescreen feature film format.
1952
Universal International was sold to Decca Records.
1952
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) negotiated the first contracts in 1952 that granted performers-actors (including singers, announcers, stunt men, and airplane pilots) residuals paid by studios for feature films sold to television.
1952
The TV show Dragnet debuted - it was one of the first TV series filmed in Hollywood (rather than NYC). It had originally been a popular radio show, and then began airing on NBC-TV's Thursday night schedule.
1952
For all of James Stewart's Universal Studios films, including director Anthony Mann's Bend of the River (1952) - their second film of five westerns they made together from 1950-1955, the actor negotiated a pioneering, precedent-setting deal (a free-lance contract). In exchange for no salary, he took instead a percentage of the box-office profits -- resulting in a lucrative, higher salary.
1952
Although generally considered the greatest screen musical of all time, Singin' in the Rain (1952) had only two Oscar nominations (without a win) -- Best Score and Best Supporting Actress (Jean Hagen). It featured Gene Kelly's heart-lifting, enchanting dance scene during a cloudburst, when he performed a glorious, almost five minute performance of the title song "Singin' In the Rain" - a spontaneous expression of his crazy-in-love, euphoric mood and happiness over his new-found love for Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds).
1952
MGM's swimming star Esther Williams appeared in her only biographical film role, as Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman in Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) - a title which became her popular nickname (and the title of her published autobiography in 1999).
1952
The first film to win a Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture (comedy or musical) - a newly-created category - was An American in Paris (1951), in the 1952 awards ceremony.
1952
Director Fred Zinnemann's western High Noon (1952) received numerous accolades, including four Academy Awards (and a second Best Actor Oscar for Gary Cooper as retired Marshal Kane facing outlaws in a deadly showdown), although director Howard Hawks and actor John Wayne both responded to the liberal preachiness of this 'un-American' film (and its cowardly townspeople) by creating a no-nonsense, right-wing rebuttal in Rio Bravo (1959).
1952
1952 was the last year that film comedian Charlie Chaplin produced a US film, Limelight (1952). During post-production, he traveled to Europe for premiere openings of the film in London and Paris. His INS application for re-entry into the US (since he was a resident alien) was revoked by Attorney General James McGranery (who called Chaplin an "unsavory character"), and he would have to submit to questions about his political and moral behavior before being allowed to return. Although Chaplin promised to return and answer charges, he broke ties with the US after his wife Oona returned to LA in early 1953 to get his assets out of the US. For the rest of his life, Chaplin set up permanent residence in Switzerland until his death in late 1977.
1952
"Curly" Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz) of The Three Stooges' fame, the youngest of the brothers and considered the most manic of the trio (with his catchphrases: "nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!" and "woo-woo-woo!" and his familiar baby face), died at the age of 48. His final appearance as an official member of the threesome was in Half-Wits Holiday (1947), during which he suffered the first of two debilitating strokes.
1952
During the period of McCarthyism and the Red Scare, after appearing and testifying before the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee), when he was accused of being involved with the Communist Party and he refused to name names, actor John Garfield was blacklisted (banned or boycotted from future Hollywood studio film appearances). The 39 year-old actor, already suffering from long-term heart problems brought on by a childhood illness, died of a heart attack due to the resultant stress. His last film was the film-noirish crime drama He Ran All the Way (1951). He was best known for his work in the following: his first film Four Daughters (1938), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) opposite Lana Turner, Body and Soul (1947), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and Force of Evil (1948).
1952
Producer/director Roberto Rossellini's 69 minute anthology film L'Amore (1948, It.) (aka Ways of Love) was exhibited at the 1948 Venice Film Festival, but was basically a flop in Italy after Catholic officials denounced it as "an abominable profanation." One of its two segments was a 43 minute short film entitled Il Miracolo (aka The Miracle) - it featured Anna Magnani as a dim-witted, unwed peasant woman who believed that she was the Virgin Mary after being seduced by a bearded wayfarer (the film's writer Federico Fellini) and became pregnant. The film was imported into the US in 1949 by Polish-Jewish immigrant Joseph Burstyn, and in late 1950 opened at the Paris Theater in Manhattan. The short film was challenged by the New York Board of Regents in 1951, pressured by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese (and Francis Cardinal Spellman who attacked The Miracle as "a despicable affront to every Christian" and "a vicious insult to Italian womanhood") to revoke the film's license on the grounds that the work was blasphemous and "sacrilegious." The film was subsequently banned by the New York State Board of Regents under 30 year-old censorship regulations barring 'sacrilegious' films. The film lost its license and the film's distributor, Joseph Burstyn, appealed the decision. The New York Appeals Court backed the Board of Regents decision.

In a remarkable 9-0 unanimous decision in 1952 in the case of Burstyn v. Wilson, the Supreme Court decided that the New York Board of Regents could not ban the film, declaring movies a form of free speech. The Court declared "sacrilege" too vague a censorship standard to be permitted under the First Amendment. In 1952, the US Supreme Court extended First Amendment protection to films ("It is not the business of government... to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches or motion pictures"). Film was finally freed from federal censorship, although local censorship boards could still ban a film deemed 'objectionable'.


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