Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1956

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

The Year 1956
Year
Event and Significance
1956
Federico Fellini's Italian film La Strada (1954, It.) (aka The Road), was the winner of the first official Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film -- awarded in 1956. The nominees were from West Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and Denmark. Before this, there had only been a Special Academy Award (from 1947-1949) and an Honorary Academy Award (from 1950-1955) for Best Foreign Film.
1956
After making sixteen Paramount feature movies together from 1949 to 1956, the Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin film duo broke up, after their last teaming in the comedy/musical Hollywood or Bust (1956). Jerry Lewis made his first solo film the following year, The Delicate Delinquent (1957).
1956
Moody American method-film actor Montgomery Clift suffered a life-changing incident following film role appearances in A Place in the Sun (1951) opposite Elizabeth Taylor, and in From Here to Eternity (1953). During the 1956 filming of Raintree County (1957) and following a dinner party at the Beverly Hills home of co-star Elizabeth Taylor, he crashed his car into a telephone pole and incurred broken bones and facial injuries requiring plastic surgery. Afterwards his life slowly declined due to a destructive lifestyle and substance abuse, as he relied on pain pills and alcohol.
1956
The beautifully-elegant actress Grace Kelly, "Hollywood's Fairy Tale Princess," was well-known for her film appearances, including High Noon (1952) opposite Gary Cooper, John Ford's Mogambo (1953) opposite Clark Gable and Ava Gardner, and for her Best Actress-winning The Country Girl (1954). She married Prince Rainier III of Monaco on April 18, 1956. Kelly met Prince Rainier III while attending the Cannes Film Festival, and during the making of her third film for Alfred Hitchcock (as his icy cool blonde) - To Catch a Thief (1955). [She had already made Dial M For Murder (1954) and Rear Window (1954) for Hitchcock.] Rainier proposed to her during the making of The Swan (1956) - a film which was released on the day of her wedding in the spring of 1956. Her last released film was High Society (1956) three months later. Kelly retired from film-making.
1956
The film industry forbade racial epithets in films, but began to permit references to abortion, drugs, kidnapping, and prostitution under certain circumstances.
1956
Two science-fiction classics: Forbidden Planet (1956) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), were released.
1956
Lerner & Loewe's musical My Fair Lady, based upon George Bernard Shaw's 1912 play Pygmalion, starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison opened on Broadway, on March 15, 1956. It was wildly successful and set the record for the longest run of any major musical theatre production in history. Eight years after its debut, an Oscar-winning film version was directed by George Cukor, My Fair Lady (1964), controversially casting non-singing Audrey Hepburn in the Julie Andrews role (as Eliza Doolittle).
1956
The US remake of Ishiro Honda's original Godzilla film, Gojira (1954, Jp.), premiered - it was director Terrell O. Morse's Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956), released by producer Joseph E. Levine and his Transworld Pictures. It was a very different, butchered and Americanized film for US audiences (without most of the anti-nuclear political statements and references to the dangers of the H-bomb), with 40 minutes excised and 20 minutes of new footage. The poorly-dubbed film featured American actor Raymond Burr as an American reporter who pleaded with a scientist named Dr. Kyohei Yamane (Takashi Shimura) to challenge the monstrous dinosaur with his invention - an 'oxygen destroyer.'
1956
Actor/director Dick Powell's (and RKO's) The Conqueror (1956), produced by Howard Hughes (his final motion picture project), was released. It was a box-office flop, and often reviled as one of the worst films ever made, miscasting John Wayne as Mongol warrior Temujin. It was shot in Utah in 1954 near a nuclear weapons test site in the Nevada desert - exposing many of those working on the film to be exposed to radiation. Although impossible to prove, it was highly suspect that of The Conqueror's 220 cast and crew members from Hollywood, 91 contracted cancer by 1980.
1956
Legendary producer/director Cecil B. DeMille remade his own 1923 silent epic, The Ten Commandments (1956) -- it was his last film, and his first and sole widescreen feature film. The blockbuster film featured the great scene of Moses (Charlton Heston) parting the Red Sea. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, and provided actor Edward G. Robinson with a comeback role after he was unfairly blacklisted in the 1950s.
1956
Rock Around the Clock (1956) featured disc jockey Alan Freed and the group Bill Haley and His Comets (singing the title song) and many others (such as the Platters and Freddy Bell and The Bell Boys). It was the first film entirely dedicated to rock 'n' roll.
1956
In 1956, Elvis Presley made two appearances on NBC-TV's Milton Berle Show (in April and June), an appearance on NBC-TV's The Steve Allen Show (in July), and the first of three appearances (from 1956-1957) on the competing CBS-TV variety show The Ed Sullivan Show, propelling the singer's rise to fame. His first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was on September 9, 1956.
1956
Vincente Minnelli's Tea and Sympathy (1956) was one of the first key films dealing with teenage homosexuality.
1956
Rock star Elvis Presley's first film, Fox's Love Me Tender (1956), was released, followed by his second film, Paramount's Loving You (1957) (his first Technicolor film) and then his MGM debut film Jailhouse Rock (1957) was released nationally in the next year.
1956
The Wizard of Oz (1939) was first televised on network television (on CBS-TV) on November 3rd, 1956 -- an event that would become an annual holiday season event for many decades. It was the first feature-length film broadcast on a major TV network in its original, uncut form. MGM was paid the huge sum of $225,000 by the network for rights to televise the film. The debut showing was hosted by "Cowardly Lion" Bert Lahr, and 10 year-old Liza Minnelli, Judy Garland's daughter. It was estimated that 45 million people watched the show.
1956
The first practical videotape recorder (VTR) was developed by the AMPEX Corporation in 1951. The first commercially-feasible ones (with 2 inch tape reels) were sold for $50,000 in 1956. Videotape became a staple of TV productions.
1956
Producer Michael Todd's and director Michael Anderson's Best Picture-winning Around the World in 80 Days (1956) was notable for its all-star casting -- with dozens of credited cameo roles for its many stars. The term "cameo appearance" was popularized by this film.
1956
Hungarian-born actor Bela Lugosi died at the age of 73. He was best known for his portrayal of vampirish Count Dracula on stage and in two films, Dracula (1931) and in Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), and for his appearances in low-budget films of notorious director Ed Wood, Jr. Lugosi was buried in a Dracula stage-play cape per the request of family members.
1956
Short on cash (like many Hollywood studios), Warner Bros. agreed to sell film rights to almost 800 feature films and 1,800 shorts to the Lansing Foundation.
1956
Columbia's 15 part, episodic western Blazing the Overland Trail (1956), directed by Spencer Bennet, was Hollywood's last serial, and marked the end of the popular film format which had its heyday in the silent era until the mid-1950s.
1956
For the controversial film Baby Doll (1956), the longest billboard ever made was placed in Times Square (NYC), displaying an image of star Carroll Baker (as Baby Doll) lying in a crib, in a sundress, and sucking her thumb.
1956
Le Monde du Silence/The Silent World (1956, Fr.), a nature documentary co-directed by Jacques Yves-Cousteau and Louis Malle, was the Palme d'Or winner - the first documentary to win this award. It also was the first film to use underwater cinematography to show the ocean depths in color.


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