Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1976

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 1976
Year
Event and Significance
1976
The low-budget phenomenally successful, uplifting, "sleeper" film Rocky (1976) made its debut. It was filmed in a record twenty-eight days with a paltry budget of about $1 million, and ultimately grossed well over $100 million. Its screenwriter and major star, Sylvester Stallone, was an unbankable unknown at the time - an underdog actor/writer in the film industry (with 32 previously-rejected scripts) similar to the lower-class Philadelphia boxing 'bum' in the film. Stallone supposedly wrote the script for the sports comeback film over a three-day period. The million-to-one underdog film was awarded three Academy Awards from its ten nominations: Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture, and it beat out formidable competition for the top prize, defeating All the President's Men (1976), Bound For Glory (1976), Network (1976), and Taxi Driver (1976) - all excellent films about other aspects of the American experience.
1976
Sylvester Stallone became the third person in Oscar history to be nominated in a single year as both an actor and as a screenwriter - for his work in Rocky (1976). The other two were Charles Chaplin for The Great Dictator (1940), and Orson Welles for Citizen Kane (1941).
1976
The Steadicam (a stabilizing device for hand-held cameras), developed by Garrett Brown, was used for the first time in director Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory (1976). Director of Photography Haskell Wexler won the Oscar for Best Cinematography. However, John Schlesinger's Marathon Man (1976) was the first commercially-released film using the Steadicam. It was also used in Rocky (1976), and eventually fully exploited in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980).
1976
Italian film director Lina Wertmuller became the first woman to be nominated for Best Director, for Seven Beauties (1976, It.).
1976
The independent Chicano drama, Please Don't Bury Me Alive! (1976) by writer/director/star Efrain Gutierrez, was set in San Antonio and noted for its bicultural narrative. It is considered by historians to be the first Chicano feature film.
1976
With her Grammy win, actress Helen Hayes became the first female performer to competitively win all four of these awards: Academy (Oscar) (1932), Tony (1947), Emmy (1953), and Grammy (1976). In the following year 1977, Rita Moreno became the second female to accomplish the feat.
1976
Sony was charged with copyright infringement by Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company, seeking to halt the manufacture of Sony's Betamax magnetic videotape recording system. It took many years to be solved after many reversals and appeals, in the case of Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc, and a decision was finally handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984.
1976
The Young Teacher (1972, South Korea) was the first film commercially released on the VHS-tape format.
1976
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak formed the Apple Computer company in April of 1976.
1976
JVC (in Japan) introduced the VHS (originally for vertical helical scan, and later Video Home System) 1/2 inch video format. The first VHS cassettes and players, which cost about $885 each, were released by JVC in October. The system was designed to compete with Sony's Betamax magnetic tape system, with a longer recording time. In 1977, RCA began marketing the first VCRs in the United States based on JVC's system, capable of recording up to four hours. By now, Japanese manufacturers had taken over the VCR market. The videocassette recorder became a mass market consumer item in the late ‘70s, primarily in two formats: VHS and Sony's Betamax. The VHS system soon became the home video recording standard for almost two decades (until the rise of DVD technology), although it was in many ways technically inferior to the high-quality Betamax. By 1987, VHS had acquired about 95% of the consumer market. The new technology was considered a threat to the film industry but in subsequent years was re-evaluated as a boon when studios discovered videos to be a major source of income. By 1986, the home video industry's annual gross rentals exceeded rentals paid for films by the theatres.
1976
Gone with the Wind (1939) first aired on network TV and drew a huge audience over two nights - about 34 million people - the largest ever film audience to watch a feature film on television.
1976
Director Barbara Kopple's Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976), another Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, documented a Kentucky coal miners' strike in the early 1970s against the Eastover Mining Company.
1976
John Wayne's final film, the western The Shootist (1976) was released, chronicling the death of the west. Ironically, Wayne's character role was as gunfighter J.B. Books who was dying of cancer. Only a few years later in 1979, 72 year-old Wayne himself died of stomach cancer.
1976
Nagisa Oshima's shocking and controversial film, In the Realm of the Senses (1976) (aka Ai No Corrida, Jp.), told of extreme, all-consuming sexual obsession, madness and immersion (bordering on pornography in its uncut version). It was seized and banned by US Customs and postponed in its censored release, for its scenes of unsimulated fellatio and penetration, and for genital dismemberment and auto-erotic asphyxiation. This erotic Japanese masterpiece about painful passion told the story of a torrid, increasingly intense and dangerous, true-to-life, almost non-stop sexual affair between gangster businessman/inn owner Kichizo (Tatsuya Fuji) and one of his maid-servants, former prostitute Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) in mid-1930s Japan.
1976
Director Bernardo Bertolucci's epic political tale, 1900 (1976) (aka Novecento), was released - at 255 minutes (although some versions were cut). The monumental film was produced by three American movie studios and represented three countries (Italy, France, and W. Germany). It was basically a history of Italy in the first half of the 20th century, seen through the eyes of its two characters (Robert DeNiro and Gerard Depardieu).
1976
British actor Peter Finch was awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his role as crazed, suicidal, UBS network anchor-man and fired 'mad prophet of the airwaves' Howard Beale in Network (1976) - memorable for his immortal line: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." Finch's award was presented post-humously (he died on January 14, 1977, just shortly before the awards ceremony). He was the fourth actor to be honored with a posthumous nomination and the first posthumous winner for Best Actor - later supplemented with Heath Ledger's posthumous nominaton and win for Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight (2008).
1976
Beatrice Straight won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the shortest role to win an acting Oscar, for her less than eight minutes of screen time in Network (1976), with only 8 speaking parts (of approx. 260 words). (Runner up: Judi Dench for about ten minutes of screen time as Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love (1998), with 14 speaking parts (of approx. 446 words).)
1976
Young star Sal Mineo was murdered during a knife-attack, dying at the age of 37. His body was found in an alley near his West Hollywood apartment. His most memorable film was Rebel Without a Cause (1955) opposite James Dean, and also his Oscar-nominated role as Dov Landau in Exodus (1960).
1976
The first in a series of shootings by the so-called "Son of Sam" serial killer occurred on July 29, 1976, terrorizing New York City over the course of the next year. The killer, David Berkowitz was eventually arrested in August 1977, and was convicted to serve six life sentences. Over twenty years later, Spike Lee directed the film Summer of Sam (1999) based on the events surrounding the murders.
1976
Austrian-American filmmaker Fritz Lang died at the age of 85. His most famous films were the expressionistic silent film Metropolis (1927, Germ.), M (1931, Germ.), Fury (1936), and a number of film noirs including The Woman in the Window (1944), Scarlet Street (1945), and The Big Heat (1953).
1976
The comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were reunited for the first time in over 20 years, during the September 1976 Jerry Lewis MD telethon in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was an unannounced reunion, when Frank Sinatra brought Dean Martin on stage.


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