Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1979

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 1979
Year
Event and Significance
1979
Miramax Films was originally created as a small production company to distribute low-budget, quirky independent and arthouse films. It started when brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein purchased and renovated a run-down movie theater in Buffalo, N.Y., and turned it into a profitable college art house. Soon after, they started as distributors and had their first major success by acquiring the rights to the concert film The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1982), which cost them $180,000 and grossed $6 million. [In the following two and a half decades, until the Walt Disney Company bought Miramax in 1993 and then split with its partner in 2005 - when they founded the Weinstein Company, the Weinsteins-run Miramax had garnered $4.5 billion in grosses from its films, almost 250 Oscar nominations, and a reputation for creating controversy.]
1979
Disney-trained animator Don Bluth, who was an animator for Disney's Robin Hood (1973), The Rescuers (1977), Pete's Dragon (1977) and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) broke away and formed Don Bluth Productions with a group of disgruntled animators. His first notable non-Disney work was the animation sequence of Xanadu (1980). His first independent feature-length animation was The Secret of N.I.M.H. (1982), and his first big hit was the Spielberg-co-produced animation An American Tail (1986).
1979
The Black Hole (1979) was Disney's first PG-rated feature film.
1979
Eight-year-old Justin Henry became the youngest nominee in a competitive category in the Academy’s history for his Best Supporting Actor performance in the Best Picture-winning film Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
1979
The English progressive rock band Pink Floyd released its eleventh album "The Wall " in November, 1979, the basis for their live-action and animated feature film Pink Floyd - The Wall (1982), directed by Alan Parker.
1979
Talented white-haired comedian Steve Martin perfected his routines (with banjo-strumming, balloon animals, juggling and magic) at Disneyland before his work on many TV variety shows, including The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late 1960s. Further album releases and comic screenplays led to his co-writing and acting in his first major hit film The Jerk (1979). He became a major comic scriptwriter and actor for many more hits, including Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), The Man With Two Brains (1983), Three Amigos (1986), Roxanne (1987), and L.A. Story (1991).
1979
Blake Edwards' popular romantic comedy 10 (1979) opened, starring Dudley Moore and a sexy Bo Derek with cornrow-braided hair, striding on a beach in a one-piece bathing suit. Both performers became instant stars, and the rating system (from 1-10) in the film became widely-used as a way to judge women. Maurice Ravel's 'Bolero' - played during a seduction scene - became popularly known as the music to play when making love.
1979
The China Syndrome (1979), a film about a fictional nuclear plant that faced near melt-down, starred Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon. It opened 11 days before an actual partial nuclear reactor core melt-down accident occurred on March 28, 1979 at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania.
1979
Mary Pickford died at the age of 87 of a cerebral hemorrhage. She had many nicknames, including "America's Sweetheart," "Little Mary," and "The Girl with the Curls," and she was one of the greatest silent film stars. She was most noted for helping to co-found the independent film production studio United Artists studios in 1919, and was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures (AMPAS). In 1920, she married swashbuckling star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and set up residence at Pickfair in Beverly Hills.
1979
Protest demonstrators (some from the LA chapter of Vietnam Veterans Against the War) prior to the Academy Awards ceremony (held in April of 1979 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion) had objected to Best Picture-nominated The Deer Hunter (1978) as a "racist" film (signs read "No Oscars for racism") and as a "bloody lie" regarding the Vietnam cause. According to accounts in Variety magazine, 13 arrests were made outside the venue.
1979
Producer/director Francis Ford Coppola's visually beautiful, ground-breaking masterpiece, the epic war film Apocalypse Now (1979), featured surrealistic and symbolic sequences detailing the confusion, violence, fear, and nightmarish madness of the Vietnam War. After a three to four year wait for the notorious film, plagued by production difficulties, bad weather, and financial problems, it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and then later opened in American theaters.
1979
The first film utilizing Dolby's 70mm "Split Surround" format was Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979).
1979
The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) made its cable-TV launch-debut on September 7, 1979.
1979
Woody Allen's Manhattan (1979) was released -- his first film using a widescreen (2.35:1) Panavision process. At Allen's insistence, the studio's contract required that the film had to be shown in letterbox format in any home video release or broadcast/cable showing -- therefore, it was the first film released in letterbox format for home video. At the time, the FCC regulations that didn't permit blank areas of the screen (bars above and below caused a bit of a problem.
1979
Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) was 20th Century Fox's extremely suspenseful, superior space science-fiction horror film. It was the first R-rated film to have merchandising aimed at children.
1979
72 year-old John Wayne, an American film icon, died in Los Angeles, California, due to the effects of stomach cancer. Many believed that the performers (including Wayne) involved in the filming of The Conqueror (1956) in SW Utah during the testing of nuclear weapons closeby were exposed to radiation, and responsible for the high morbidity rate among the cast and crew. Heavy cigarette smoker Wayne also suffered from a bout of lung cancer in 1964, and he was known to be a heavy drinker.
1979
Ten years after the end of TV's Star Trek series (lasting three seasons and debuting in September of 1966), the full-length feature film Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) had its debut in early December 1979. It broke box office records by grossing almost $12 million in the U.S. in its first three days of release. The profitable and expansive Star Trek franchise (with bigger budgets and the widescreen's advantages) lasted until 1991 (with an additional 2009 remake), headlined by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as Admiral Kirk and Captain Spock respectively. After that came a new TV series in 1987 (Star Trek: The Next Generation) for seven seasons that also generated another series of four theatrical Star Trek films beginning in 1994 with the Next Generation crew headed by Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard.
1979
The body of petite, elfin American actress Jean Seberg was found in the backseat of her car parked in Paris, France near her apartment in late August. The 40 year-old actress' controversial death, determined to be a suicide, was due to an overdose of barbituates and alcohol. She was reportedly suffering from clinical depression. Her most famous films were The Mouse That Roared (1959), Jean-Luc Godard's New Wave masterpiece Breathless (1960, Fr.), Lilith (1964) opposite Warren Beatty, the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969), and the disaster film Airport (1970).
Mid-to-late 1970s and into the 1980s
The Australian film-making industry experienced a revival or renaissance (new wave) of production after many years of sporadic growth, with increased government financing. Examples of films portraying Australian culture and history at this time of Australia's film-making resurgence included Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), The Last Wave (1977) and Gallipoli (1981), Fred Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Gillian Armstrong's My Brilliant Career (1979), Bruce Beresford's Breaker Morant (1980), and the unexpected success of Mel Gibson in the first Mad Max (1979) film.
Late 1970's to Early 1980's
The popularity, profitability and success of HBO (Home Box Office) in the mid-1970s helped spur the growth of cable TV, and soon after, new satellite-delivered basic and premium cable TV networks were successfully competing against the major TV networks in the late 70s and early 80s, including premium movie channels such as: Viacom's Showtime (1976, with satellite broadcast in 1978), Warner Amex's The Movie Channel (1979), Time/HBO's own Cinemax (1980), the Disney Channel (1983), American Movie Classics (1984), and other Pay Per View (PPV) channels, to name a few.


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