Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1974

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
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1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979

The Year 1974
Year
Event and Significance
1974
Tobe Hooper's milestone cult slasher film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was released, inspired by the real-life Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein (also responsible for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)), featuring a horrifying, mask-wearing, chainsaw-threatening Leatherface character.
1974
Mike Nichols' controversial film Carnal Knowledge (1971), which was ruled obscene in 1972 in a Georgia lower court, was given a reverse ruling (..."Carnal Knowledge could not be found ... to depict sexual conduct in a patently offensive way") when the original ruling was overturned by the US Supreme Court in mid-1974.
1974

Director Roman Polanski's neo-noir Chinatown (1974), starring Jack Nicholson, was released, and grossed almost $30 million - much more than its budget of $6 million. It was Polanski's last film made in the US (he fled to France in 1978 when charged with statuatory rape). [Some connected him with Chinatown’s own child-molesting despicable villain Noah Cross played by John Huston.] Twenty-five percent of the film was financed by a tax shelter syndicate which received about 10 percent of the profits in return -- this avenue of film financing has since been closed by order of federal regulation. It was significant that Chinatown (1974) held firm at the top of the box-office for six weeks in the summer of 1974, was replaced by Death Wish (1974) for six weeks, and then returned to the # 1 spot for 4 more weeks - a very rare occurrence.

1974
Best Director-winning Francis Ford Coppola's critically-acclaimed, Best Picture-winning gangster epic sequel The Godfather, Part II (1974), -- actually a prequel -- was one of the rare instances in which the sequel was superior to the original film. It became the first 'sequel' to win Best Picture (presented in 1975). It would help launch the trend toward blockbuster sequels.
1974
Writer/director/producer Francis Ford Coppola's tense conspiracy thriller The Conversation (1974) was a slowly-gripping, bleak study of electronic surveillance and threat of new technologies that was examined through the private, internalized life of a lonely and detached expert 'bugger' named Harry Caul (Gene Hackman). The timely, low-budget cinematic masterpiece of the 1970s was released before and during the Wategate era (and between Coppola's two Godfather films) - a time of heightened concern over the violation of civil liberties.
1974
The hit disaster film Earthquake (1974) featured the first use of a new, short-lived movie gimmick called Sensurround, which used large speakers to create synchronized vibrations in theaters by means of thumping, high-decibel bass sounds. The scenes of the crumbling destruction of Los Angeles by a powerful earthquake were accompanied by the first use of low-frequency bass rumbling (responsible for the film's only Academy Award Oscar win: Best Sound Oscar) and quite impressive special effects. There were only three other films employing Sensurround: the all-star war film Midway (1976), the summer thriller Rollercoaster (1977), and the TV show crossover Battlestar Galactica (1978). Three serious detriments regarding this gimmick were the costly installation of speakers, the potential of structural damage to older theatres, and the disruptions caused for adjoining multiplex theatre auditoriums.
1974
People Magazine was launched.
1974
Director Just Jaeckin's Emmanuelle (1974, Fr.), the first and original film in a series of soft-core films (and lots of imitations) starring Sylvia Kristel, debuted. The box-office smash told about sexual awakening - it was shot to be more erotic than explicit - and was similar to the more graphic Deep Throat (1972) in that it played in mainstream and neighborhood theatres. Emmanuelle was the first X-rated film released by Paramount.
1974
Stage, radio, TV, film, and actor-comedian Jack Benny (often seen with a violin and portraying a miserly 39 year-old) died at the age of 80. He was one of the leading entertainers of the 20th century. His most notable film appearance was in Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942) opposite Carole Lombard.
1974
One of Mel Brooks' funniest, most successful and most popular films was his third feature film, Blazing Saddles (1974), an unsubtle spoof or parody of all the cliches from the time-honored genre of westerns. The offensive, deliberately in-bad-taste film that made fun of racism was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Film Editing, Best Song (music by John Morris with lyrics by Mel Brooks), and Best Supporting Actress (Madeline Kahn) - without any wins.
1974
Stephen King's first novel, Carrie, was published in April 1974, and was adapted for the screen by Lawrence D. Cohen for director Brian DePalma's supernatural horror film Carrie (1976). It was the first of many Stephen King novels that became the basis for screen and TV movies.
1974
In a series of five controversial Death Wish films from 1974 to 1994, Charles Bronson starred as obsessive crusader Paul Kersey, single-mindedly seeking revenge and justice following the brutal deaths of loved ones. It was at a time when there was a wave of vigilante (take the law into your own hands) films, including the Dirty Harry films with Clint Eastwood.
1974
Hunger, an animated film short (11 minutes long) without dialogue from the National Film Board of Canada (and director Peter Foldes) was the first to use computer digitization to interpolate (or 'fill in') the animated action between various key cells drawn free-hand, although it had experimentally been demonstrated with his earlier film, Metadata (1971). The film's director was the first animator to use computer animation (a computer-assisted 'key-frame animation' system) that imitated conventional cel animation. Black and white animated illustrations appeared against a colored backdrop, with surrealistic figures that fluidly dissolved and reshaped themselves to take new forms - an early and primitive example of morphing. It was the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Short Film (Animated) category. It also won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival that same year.
1974
German businessman Oskar Schindler died on October 9, 1974, the main figure portrayed by Liam Neeson almost 20 years later in director Steven Spielberg's Best Picture-winning Schindler's List (1993), based on the 1982 novel Schindler's Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally.
1974
The first Claymation film, the 11-minute long Closed Mondays (1974), which won the Best Animated Short Film Oscar award, was produced and co-directed by Will Vinton and Bob Gardiner. The short was the first instance of Claymation animation, using 3-D clay figures filmed with stop-motion animation. This animated short was included in the theatrical release of the compilation feature film Fantastic Animation Festival (1977).
1974
In the era before video stores and widespread availability of films for viewing, the LA-based, premium cable outlet Z Channel exerted a tremendous impact on the film industry. One of the first pay cable stations, it provided a wide variety of innovative programming from its troubled head Jerry Harvey in the 80s, including on-air film festivals, foreign films, hard-to-find rare classics, non-mainstream films, original and uncut 'director's versions,' works of new talent (actors, directors, and writers), late-night European softcore features (often starring Laura Antonelli), and the airing of other independent productions. The channel often regenerated interest in critically-acclaimed films that had flopped on initial release (i.e., Oliver Stone's Salvador (1986) or Robert Altman's McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)). By the late 80s, the cable channel was eventually forced out of the market by giants HBO and Showtime when it was acquired in 1988 by a company that decided to combine its movie programming with sports.
1974
"The Way We Were" - the Academy Award-winning title song of the romantic drama The Way We Were (1973), featuring singer Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford as star-crossed lovers, topped Billboard's Hot 100 chart for a short time in early 1974. It was Streisand's first number-one pop hit single on Billboard's Hot 100.
1974
Singing cowboy and country music star Tex Ritter died at the age of 68 in Nashville, Tennessee. He had acted in and provided the music for many B-westerns (or "oaters") during the mid-1930s-1940s. His most notable song was the title-track number for High Noon (1952), "Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin'," which won the Academy Award for Best Song.
1974
Future horror-filmmaker John Carpenter's directorial debut came with his low-budget Dark Star (1974), originally a student project enlarged to feature length. It was a major spoof of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
1974
Producer Samuel Goldwyn (originally Goldfish) died at the age of 94, the legendary founder of major motion picture studios. His earliest film production studio, the Jessie L. Lasky Feature Play Company merged in the early 20th century and became the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, a forerunner of Paramount Pictures. In the meantime, Goldwyn helped to establish the roots of the future Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, before opening his own Samuel Goldwyn Inc. company. For many years, he produced many solid hits, including Dodsworth (1936), Wuthering Heights (1939), The Little Foxes (1941), the Best Picture-winning The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), the musical Guys and Dolls (1955), and Porgy and Bess (1959).


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