List o’ 10 Firsts in Movie History

List o' 10 Firsts in Movie HistoryIn 1927, one of the biggest visionaries in movie history – Mr Harry M Warner, of the famed studio in his name – said, “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”. Well, apparently most of use do, and the first “talkies” were a monumental shift in movie making. Since that pivotal moment, there have been many firsts of equally compelling impact. This list presents 10 of the many firsts in movie history.


10. The First and Only$100 Million Pornographic Film

Deep Throat movie posterDeep Throat movie showing

This was the movie that made porn cool and in vogue. Deep Throat was released in 1972, starred the now famous Linda Lovelace, and is credited as the first “adult”films to feature a plot, character development and relatively high production standards.  Through its mainstream attention it became the first and only porn film to make over $100 million, though numbers as high as $600 million have been cited.  Deep Throat was banned outright in parts of the U.S. and many other countries, which no doubt helped it make so much. Deep Throat officially premiered at the World Theater in New York on June 12 and was advertised in The New York Times under the bowdlerized title “Throat.”

9. The First Movie Released in DVD Format

twister-movie box-cover-poster

Twister is a 1996 film that follows storm chasers who research tornadoes.  In 1995 the DVD technology replaced VHS as the main consumer format, discs replaced bulky cassette tapes, and Twister because the leader of digital technology for the home movie front. Though it did not win any Academy awards, Twister is notable for being the first Hollywood feature film to be released in the DVD format. Click here to see the first music album released in digital format.

8. The First Nude Film Scene by a Leading Actress

Audrey Munson Inspiration

Several films of the silent era and early sound era included nude scenes, which were presented in a historical or religious context.  In 1915, actress Audrey Munson appeared nude in the film Inspiration, the first film to feature full nudity from a leading cast member. Then, in response to what was becoming a trend in US film making, in 1934 American studios passed the Hays Code, which forbid nudity in American films. Although many foreign films featured nudity during this era, yet none made in the US were allowed under the Motion Picture Regulations. Amazingly this ban was not lifted until 1964 with the making of the groundbreaking movie from Sidney Lumet, The Pawnbroker. The Pawnbroker was the first film featuring bare breasts to receive Production Code approval, which eventually led to #10 on this list.

7. The First Actor to Receive $1 Million

William Holden - Bridge on the River Kwai

William Holden, one of Hollywood’s most storied and famous actors, starred in the Academy Award winning production of The Bridge on the River Kwai and was paid $1 million dollars for his work.  This was a serious amount of money in 1957. Elizabeth Taylor was awarded a record setting $1 million for her work in the 1963 film Cleopatra, making her the first actress to receive $1 million for a role.  Ironically, the production of Cleopatra is infamous for almost bankrupting 20th Century Fox.  Despite being a critical failure, it won four Academy Awards. It was the highest grossing film of 1963, earning US $26 million, yet made a loss due to its cost of $44 million, the only film ever to be the highest grossing film of the year yet to run at a loss.

6. The First Science Fiction Film

melies_trip-to-the-moon_1902

In 1902, A Trip to the Moon, a French black and white silent film, became the first movie with a science fiction story. Written and directed by Georges Méliès, assisted by his brother Gaston, the movie runs a total of 14 minutes. A Trip to the Moon was extremely popular at the time of its release and used innovative animation and special effects, including the well-known image of the spaceship landing in the moon’s eye.  The production was named one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice.

5. The First Use of the “F”-Word in A Major Studio Movie

The First Use of the "F"-Word in A Major Studio Movie

It was 1967 and the first time that a major movie release used the F-word. as heard in movie Ulysses. Today this seems like, “Yeah, no kidding…so what’s the big deal about this first?”. It was and remains a monumental event, a watershed moment. It was a shift in culture, social attitude and perhaps signaled the times to come. Trainspotting has the reputation for the most cursing in a single movie, though anything from Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorsese (at least his cop flicks) would shatter the Ulysses moment. And the thing is, Tarantino and Scorsese produce brilliant work, shocking not for the language but for imagery, both seen and suggested; so what was the big deal with Ulysses? It got us used to getting a little closer to the vulgar side, the other side, that was never really allowed but skirted around by everyone. It legitimized what most people wanted, but few were brave enough to take. And look where we are now – everyone is an f’ing rock star baby@!

4. The First Woman to Direct a $100 Million Movie

Penny Marshall - The First Woman to Direct a $100 Million Moviebig - tom hanks

In 1988, after Steven Spielberg turned down the script, Penny Marshall  accepted the job of directing a movie called Big, which starred an up and coming young actor named Tom Hanks. Turned out that the combination of Hanks and a great script turned Big into a worldwide success and helped launch the career of both Marshall as a director and Hanks as a leading man. With a box office take of over $150 million worldwide, Big became the first movie directed by a woman to make over $100 million. Penny Marshall went on to direct another 100 million dollar blockbuster in 1992 with A League of Their Own, and followed with a string of successful films including Awakenings (1990), Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), Renaissance Man (1994), The Preacher’s Wife (1996), and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). And from her acting through to her directing, she is pure genius all the way.

3. The First CGI Feature Film

toy-story buzz lightyear and woody

In 1995, Toy Story became the first feature film to use only computer generated imagery, and went on to earn over $350 million worldwide.  Toy Story was the first release from then unknown Pixar Animation Studios, who has since set the standard for digital and CGI animation. Toy Story and Pixar are among the most important modern forces in movie making and entertainment in general, as they have brought new possibilities to film makers and legitimized the art of animation in a way not seen since Disney released the ground breaking animated movies Snow White and Fantasia.

2. The First Colour Feature Film

The World, the Flesh and the Devil in Kinemacolor

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1914) was the world’s first dramatic feature film to be photographed in color.  It was made using the Kinemacolor process.  Kinemacolor was the first successful color motion picture process, used commercially from 1908 to 1914.  The Kinemacolor process eventually failed, due to several technical deficiencies and as a result of new methods of filming in colour, yet several movies made in this style were accomplished. It’s claim to fame is that it did allow the filming of the first feature length colour movie and started the  movie industry thinking along a whole new path as a result.

1. The First Talkie

Al Jolson - The Jazz Singer

History was made in New York on October 6th, 1927 when the very first spoken voice in a feature film was heard. The voice belonged to Al Jolson and the ground breaking movie – The Jazz Singer. The reaction by the theatre audience was immediate – they rose to their feet, applauding ecstatically. The moment came in the middle of the film when, during a nightclub scene, Jolson suddenly spoke. The first words ever spoken in a movie were, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!” In one scene Jolson sits at the piano and exchanges lines with his mother between verses of Blue Skies. Al Jolson also ad-libbed various lines during the musical sequences of the film and these were left in. In fact, pundits and experts at the time assured industry execs that the new craze for talkies was a fad and would quickly fade.

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6 Responses to "List o’ 10 Firsts in Movie History":

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