Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1975

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

The Year 1975
Year
Event and Significance
1975
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) by director Milos Forman finally debuted. Producer Kirk Douglas had struggled for years to bring Ken Kesey's novel to the big screen - and it finally was, by his son/producer Michael Douglas - who won an Academy Award (for Best Picture). It was the first film to take all the five major Oscar awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Actress) since Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934) 41 years earlier. Its major star, Jack Nicholson, portrayed a rebellious asylum patient in the acclaimed film. [The actor's first onscreen role was in Roger Corman's sub-par thriller The Cry Baby Killer (1958), followed soon after by The Little Shop of Horrors (1960). While working behind the scenes as a writer and director, his breakthrough role came as a drunken lawyer in Easy Rider (1969).]
1975
Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) was the first modern 'blockbuster' film to top the $100 million record in box-office business in North America (cruising past previous pace-setters Gone With the Wind (1939), The Sound of Music (1965) and The Godfather (1972)). It earned its 27 year-old director (and Universal Studios) a place in Hollywood. Part of Jaws' financial success was due to the fact that Hollywood preceded its release by three nights of TV ads during prime time on all the networks - a massive TV marketing campaign costing $700,000. It was also booked into 460 theatres for its opening weekend - a record! - making it one of the first major films to open in wide-release throughout the country (another prominent film that also opened in wide-release was the independent film Billy Jack (1971)). Eventually, the film earned box-office (domestic) of $260 million and over $470 million worldwide. The film's tremendous success spurred Hollywood studios to aggressively look for further modern blockbusting, 'big-event' films that could break weekend box-office records - fueled by increasingly more expensive ad campaigns.
1975
Robert Altman's low-budget, Oscar-nominated ensemble film Nashville (1975) followed the interlocking lives of a huge eclectic cast of twenty-four main characters - one of Altman's trademarks. The quirky film was shot in under 45 days, and was the first major release that had actors performing live in front of the camera during their song performances. The film received a notorious rave "preview" review from critic Pauline Kael (in The New Yorker) about four months before the film was completed after she viewed a rough-cut ("I've never before seen a movie I loved in quite this way"), and some accused her of breaching professionalism by promoting the film before its premiere in New York City.
1975
Writer/director Peter Bogdanovich's throwback 30s musical, At Long Last Love (1975), was the first film since the "Golden Age of Hollywood" in the early 30s to have its musical numbers recorded live (instead of lip-synching).
1975
The first full frontal female nudity (an open crotch shot) in a major-studio American film was in Roger Corman's exploitation film Capone (1975), a biopic about Chicago gangster Al Capone (Ben Gazzara). The female actress was Susan Blakely (as Iris Crawford), who spread her legs while getting out of bed with Capone.
1975
The Sony Corporation introduced the 1/2 inch Betamax video format and videocassette recorder (VCR) for consumer home use, with the capability of recording up to one hour.
1975
Eighty-year-old George Burns won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in director Herbert Ross' and Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975) and became the oldest performer to win a competitive Academy Award. It was Burns' sole nomination - and sole Oscar win during his entire career.
1975
After its opening in London in June of 1973, and in Los Angeles in March of 1974, The Rocky Horror Show opened on Broadway in March of 1975. A film version of the original international stage hit, Jim Sharman's and Fox's The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), was released in Los Angeles in September of 1975, and was a commercial failure. It was resurrected after a long run of midnight showings at the Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village beginning on April 1, 1976. Since then, it achieved major cult film status, and has been considered the longest-running 'midnight movie' of all time.
1975
The unusual, nationally-distributed, low-budget B/W feature film Deafula (1975) marked a strange milestone - it was the first, and only, horror (vampire) film shot using American Sign Language (Amesol), a technique dubbed "Signscope." It was shot without sound originally and no spoken dialogue, although a monotone soundtrack was later dubbed in, loosely translating the signs.
1975
Director George Lucas, John Dykstra and producer Gary Kurtz created a facility called Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) in Lucas' own studio (Lucasfilm) in Marin County (Bay Area of Northern California) to help in the creation of special effects and miniature models for his first film in a trilogy -- Star Wars (1977). One of its customized inventions was a motion-controlled camera (the "Dykstraflex") to film the spectacular space-ship dogfight in the finale. Since then, the award-winning ILM (under the umbrella of Lucas Digital, Ltd.) has become the industry standard. It has been a major player in the development of advanced and computer-generated visual effects for scores of films, and the top effects house for Hollywood.
1975
Michael Ovitz, Ron Meyer, Bill Haber, Michael Rosenfeld and Rowland Perkins, broke off from the William Morris Agency and founded the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in January 1975 in Los Angeles. It has become one of the world's leading talent agencies for sports, music, TV, film and entertainment figures.  
1975
Kathleen Nolan was named the first female National President of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), initially for a two-year term. She was re-elected in 1977 to serve a second term.
1975
HBO (Home Box Office) bet its future on satellite programming distribution, when it signed a 6-year, $7.5 million contract to allow access to RCA's recently-launched communications satellite Satcom I. HBO inaugurated its satellite-delivered cable service nationwide with the live transmission of the Ali vs. Frazier boxing match ("Thrilla in Manila") in October, 1975. The move made HBO the first successful, satellite-delivered pay cable service in the US.
1975
The first episode of "NBC’s Saturday Night" (the original title) was broadcast on October 11, 1975. George Carlin was the host of the first late-night, live-broadcast sketch comedy and variety show, with Billy Preston and Janis Ian as musical guests. It set the standard for subsequent shows, and was renamed Saturday Night Live in 1980.
1975
Rival film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel debuted their PBS-TV film review show, a monthly show originally titled OPENING SOON...at a Theatre Near You, on local Chicago's PBS affiliate WTTW. After a few successful seasons on the local station, it was re-named Sneak Previews and debuted as a nationwide bi-weekly show in mid-October, 1978 on PBS. It soon became one of the highest-rated shows of its kind in TV history - and by 1979, the now weekly show was airing on over 180 stations. The milestone show helped to pioneer interest in film criticism (beyond print). After a contractual dispute, the critics left the series in 1982 to start At the Movies.
1975
The first feature film to be encoded with a Dolby Stereo optical soundtrack was Ken Russell's Lisztomania (1975).
1975
Larry Fine of The Three Stooges died at the age of 72. Then shortly later, Moe Howard (noted for his bowl-shaped haircut), the sole surviving member of the farce trio, also died at the age of 77. Curly had died in 1952. From the early 30s onward, the team had made hundreds of comedy shorts (and some feature films).
1975
The national average ticket price for theatre admission was $2.03, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).


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