Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1972

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1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979

The Year 1972
Year
Event and Significance
1972
The popular, low-budget, adult-oriented, X-rated Deep Throat (1972) by director Gerard Damiano (and starring Linda Lovelace as a sexually-frustrated woman with her clitoris located at the back of her throat), was the second hard-core pornography feature film widely released in the US. It came after the feature length X-rated Behind the Green Door (1972) by the Mitchell Brothers starring Ivory Snow girl Marilyn Chambers. Both films contributed to the explosion of the porn industry and 'porn chic' by being exhibited in many mainstream film theatres. Deep Throat was one of the most financially successful films ever made (grossing over $1,000,000, but costing only $24,000 to make). However, it was ruled obscene by a New York court in 1973 and prints of the film were seized when it was subsequently banned in 23 states, and the film's exhibitors (and actor Harry Reems) were found guilty of promoting obscenity and fined. The publicity only fueled the worldwide box-office gross of the film.
1972
Brandon de Wilde, the young co-star of the classic George Stevens western Shane (1953) in the Oscar-nominated memorable role of Joey Starrett, died at the age of 30 in a car accident. At the time in Denver, Colorado, he was co-starring in a stage-play production of Butterflies Are Free opposite Maureen O'Sullivan.
1972
HBO transmitted its first cable television programming (via microwave transmission) to 365 home subscribers in Wilkes-Barre, PA -- this marked the start of pay-TV service for cable. Sometimes a Great Notion (1970), starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda, was the first film to be broadcast, commercial-free and uncut, on the new premium cable TV network in its debut programming, along with a hockey game.
1972
The AVCO Cartrivision system (for CARTRIdge teleVISION) was a combination receiver / recorder / playback unit. It was also the first videocassette recorder to have pre-recorded tapes of popular movies (from Columbia Pictures) for sale and rental -- three years before Sony's Betamax VCR system emerged into the market. However, the company went out of business a year later.
1972
Sony introduced the U-Matic line of video cassette recorders.
1972
Atari began production on "Pong," one of the earliest of the new generation of arcade video games in November of 1972.
1972
After winning her first Best Actress Oscar for Klute (1971) (awarded in 1972), Jane Fonda - who had become an outspoken political activist in the late 1960s and was vehemently opposed to the Vietnam War, was invited by the Hanoi government for a high-profile two-week visit (accompanied by future husband Tom Hayden), to see the results of President Nixon's recent bombings and war atrocities and voice support for the North Vietnamese opposition. She acquired her nickname "Hanoi Jane" as a result.
1972
Italian-American director Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather (1972), a reinvention of the gangster genre, was finally released. It won three Oscars from its ten nominations, including awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando, who refused to accept the award) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola). Apache Indian Sacheen Littlefeather declined Marlon Brando's Best Actor Oscar on his behalf during the 1973 awards ceremony as a protest against government Indian policies. The Godfather broke box-office records - it was the first US film to gross $100 million domestically at the box office in its initial release.
1972
Director John Waters' repulsive and controversial cult film, the gross-out comedy Pink Flamingos (1972) (eventually rated NC-17) was so low-budget that the underground film was first screened at various US universities, before being acquired by New Line Cinema. It first premiered at the University of Baltimore (the city where the film was shot) in 1972, and also at Harvard University in 1973. The film was Waters' third feature film (and first in color) - it was so successful at the box-office that it helped launch the director's career.
1972
After making a few short films and documentaries, Italian-American director Martin Scorsese's first Hollywood feature film (and his second film) was the low-budget Roger Corman-produced exploitation film Boxcar Bertha (1972) released by AIP. The Bonnie-and-Clyde like film starred Barbara Hershey in the title role of transient train robber Bertha Thompson opposite her real-life lover David Carradine as a union organizer and fellow fugitive "Big Bill" Shelly.
1972
In August 1972, John Wojtowicz and Sal Naturale held seven Chase Manhattan Bank employees hostage for 14 hours in Brooklyn, New York, an event that was later the centerpiece of director Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon (1975), starring Al Pacino and John Cazale.
1972
"Master of Disaster" film producer Irwin Allen's The Poseidon Adventure (1972), became the # 1 film of 1973. Its tremendous success caused a rash of other disaster films, such as The Towering Inferno (1974) and Earthquake (1974). In the film, a New Year's Eve tidal wave flipped the passenger ship upside down, creating an upside-down world inside the ship as ten survivors (cast members Ernest Borgnine, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, and Gene Hackman) all struggled to live and get to the 'top' (actually the bottom) of the submerged liner.
1972
Director Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial, X-rated Last Tango in Paris (1972) was released, premiering at the New York Film Festival, greeted with protest and criticism due to its explicit sexual content, exhibited by the two main characters: Marlon Brando as American widower Paul, and his young Parisian sex partner Jeanne (Maria Schneider). The film's most controversial scene was an anal rape scene of sodomy, using butter as a genital lubricant. Brando and director Bertolucci both earned Oscar nominations - making them the only Oscar nominees for an X-rated film that hadn't been re-rated since its release. [Note: It was re-rated, but given a comparable NC-17 rating in 1997.] In early 1973, a record $5 ticket admission price was being charged at New York's Trans-Lux East Theatre.
1972
Ralph Bakshi's Fritz the Cat (1972), his directorial debut film, was the first X-rated animated feature-length film in Hollywood history. It was also the first independent animated film to gross more than $100 million at the box office. The film was based on the Robert Crumb comic book created in 1959, featuring Fritz as an anthropomorphic hedonistic feline.
1972
The dubbed version of director/writer Wei Lo's Fists of Fury, released in the US in 1973 but appearing earlier in Hong Kong as The Big Boss (1971) (aka Tang Shan Da Xiong), brought about a revival of the martial-arts sub-genre, and made Bruce Lee a star. It was Lee's first major film. Confusingly, it appeared concurrent with his starring role in Wei Lo's similarly-titled Fist of Fury (1972, HK) (aka The Chinese Connection, or The Iron Hand).
1972
Comedian George Carlin was arrested on July 21, 1972, at Summerfest in Milwaukee for disorderly conduct after reciting his "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television."
1972
For the first time in 20 years, 82 year-old silent comedian/director/producer Charlie Chaplin returned from exile and set foot on US soil. Two decades earlier, he was denied a re-entry visa amid questions about his leftist politics and moral character. In 1972, Chaplin planned a return visit to America to accept an honorary Academy Award in Los Angeles at the 44th annual ceremony (held to honor 1971's films). His standing ovation lasted a record 12 minutes. He was first honored and paid tribute by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York. Since 1972, the award has been renamed the Chaplin Award, and given annually by the Film Society in honor of many of the film industry's most notable talents, including Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Federico Fellini, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and most recently, Tom Hanks and Michael Douglas.


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