Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1968

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
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1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969

The Year 1968
Year
Event and Significance
1968
A new voluntary ratings system was developed and went into effect in late November by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) - it was announced by its President Jack Valenti. The new system classified films according to their suitability for viewing by young people, in four categories: "G" for general audiences; "M" for mature audiences; "R," no one under 16 admitted without an adult guardian (later raised to under 17 years of age); and "X," no one under 17 admitted. The four criteria used in the ratings included theme, language, violence, and nudity and/or sexual content. Many parents thought films rated M contained more adult content than those that were rated R. This confusion led to its replacement in 1969 by the rating of GP (or General Public, or General Audiences, Parental Guidance Suggested). In 1970, the GP (or earlier M) rating was changed to PG: Parental Guidance Suggested, and the age limit was increased to 17. [The PG ratings category would again be revised in 1984.]
1968
Brian De Palma's satirical draft-dodger comedy Greetings (1968), (Robert De Niro's debut film), was the first film in the US to receive the new rating of X by the MPAA - for nudity and profanity (in its original release), although it was later reduced to an R rating. The film was De Palma's second feature-length directorial effort, following his The Wedding Party (1966).
1968
The first contemporary music (rock 'n roll concert) industry film, Monterey Pop (1968), was filmed at the historic Monterey International Pop Festival in California in 1967, featuring such performers as Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin and more. It was the precursor to Michael Wadleigh's concert documentary of the late 60s rock fest, Woodstock (1970).
1968
Stanley Kubrick's stunning epic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) reinvented the science fiction genre - after its premiere in April 1968. It earned four Academy Award nominations and won for Special Visual Effects. It introduced the character of HAL, a computer that could see, speak, hear, and think like its human colleagues aboard the spaceship, and fantastic special effects of outer-space by Douglas Trumbull.
1968
The flesh-eating zombie sub-genre of films was given a boost with George A. Romero's cheap, stark black and white horror flick, Night of the Living Dead (1968). This debut film was an influential, milestone 'splatter' film. The ultra-low budget film was shot in grainy 35 mm black-and-white with natural lighting and hand-held cameras. It featured an unknown cast - and reinvented the genre with its crude "drawbacks" which actually improved the film since they lent a documentary feel and reality that made the film all the more horrific. While initially considered drive-in schlock, the film gained in popularity and critical respect, and raised Romero to great heights as a horror filmmaker. Romero's Dead trilogy (now totaling five) told about flesh-eating zombies who walked slowly and stiffly (due to the effects of rigor mortis), in a 'cult of the dead'.
1968
The classic science fiction film, Planet of the Apes (1968) was one of the pioneering, modern multimedia marketing blockbusters, spawning not only four sequels (and a remake in 2001) and two television series spinoffs, but merchandising, such as action figures. It provided both solid entertainment value, and an effective, politically-charged message of social commentary.
1968
The German film Maedchen in Uniform (1958) (first filmed in 1931) was the only lesbian film seen publicly in the US --- until the release of Robert Aldrich's X-rated The Killing of Sister George (1968).
1968
Peter Bogdanovich was the first critic and film scholar to become a Hollywood writer-director, with his directorial debut for Targets (1968), made for American International Pictures. He deliberately revered past American directors in his own work which extended into the 70s.
1968
Writer Mel Brooks made his directorial feature-film debut with the satirical dark comedy The Producers (1968), starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder - the first of many broad film farces and comedy-parodies (e.g., Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), etc.).
1968
The Oscar ceremony in April of 1968 was delayed by two days (and held on April 10th) due to Martin Luther King's assassination (on April 4th).
1968
Writer/director John Cassavetes' Faces (1968) was the first independently-made and distributed American film to reach mainstream audiences. Cassavetes himself has been considered to be "the father of independent cinema in America." The stark and grainy look of this amateurish-looking, non-studio, ragged film about infidelity (over two hours long, and made with a hand-held camera in 16mm) was told as an improvisational character study. It was a highly-influential, low-budget independent cinema verite film that had a highly individualistic style (with unscripted and often inaudible dialogue).
1968
Katharine Hepburn became the first person to win three Academy Awards in either the Best Actor or Best Actress categories, with her win for her monumental role as the witty, strong-willed, aging Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter (1968). Hepburn's total of eleven acting nominations also set a new record.
1968
Broadway actress/singer Barbra Streisand made her big-screen debut in director William Wyler's biopic Funny Girl (1968), playing the role of musical vaudevillian, Ziegfeld Follies, Broadway star and comedienne Fanny Brice - reprising her previous Broadway role. The film was famous for the opening line: "Hello gorgeous." For her performance, Streisand shared Best Actress Oscar honors with Katharine Hepburn (winning for The Lion in Winter (1968)). This was the second time in Academy history two performers had tied for an Academy Award. It was also Wyler's first musical film.
1968
US actor Albert Dekker, known for his appearances (in a career lasting over 30 years) in the horror film Dr. Cyclops (1940), the film noirs The Killers (1946) and Kiss Me Deadly (1955), and in his final film - Sam Peckinpah's western The Wild Bunch (1969), died at the age of 62. He was found naked in his own Hollywood bathroom - hanged by accidental autoerotic asphyxiation. He was bound, blindfolded, gagged and handcuffed, with sexual obscenities scrawled on his body in red lipstick.


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