Celebrating the History of Motion Pictures from 1890 to 1960

1951 Timelines: 1950 to 1960

Acetate/Safety film, made from cellulose triacetate, has replaced the highly inflammable nitrate film as the standard for 35mm film production, distribution and film preservation.


Roy Rogers receives a temporary injunction preventing the sale of his Republic features to television. He claims that the advertisements shown during the commercial breaks in his films would suggest he was endorsing the products.


The House Un–American Activities Committee conducts its second set of congressional hearings into the motion picture industry. If witnesses refuse to testify based on the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantee against self–incrimination, they are blacklisted by the industry and refused any type of employment.


Screen Gems, the television production subsidiary of Columbia Pictures that had been producing commercials, will now begin producing television series.


Larry Parks, star of the hit movies “The Jolson Story” and “Jolson Sings Again”, has admitted to the House Un–American Activities Committee that he was a member of the Communist Party from 1941 to 1945.


New restrictions have been announced in the Production Code. Any reference to venereal disease, abortion or drugs is forbidden.


Time, Inc., has decided to suspend production of “The March of Time” newsreels that had begun in 1935.


The Screen Actors Guild has begun negotiations for royalties and residuals from the TV broadcast of films in which its members appear. They are willing to cede all rights to films made before August, 1948, in return for an agreement that the studios contract with them for royalties accruing from the sale of features to television made after 1948.


Significant Films:

Akira Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon” is released. It wins a special Academy Award for “Outstanding Foreign Language Film”, which reinvigorates the Japanese film industry and opens up new markets for Japanese films.

20th Century–Fox releases the Robert Wise film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal. This science fiction film presented an adult theme in a serious manner, and is often credited with prompting the surge in sci–fi movie production during this decade.

Warner Bros. releases Elia Kazan’s film “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Starring Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, it is the first motion picture to win three Academy Awards for acting.

John Huston’s film “The African Queen” is released starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Bogart wins his first and only Academy Award for his performance.

MGM releases “Quo Vadis?” starring Robert Taylor and Deborah Kerr. The movie was filmed at the Italian Cinecittà studios, and it helped to establish a trend in which Hollywood often found it less costly to make its pictures overseas.

MGM releases “An American in Paris” starring Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch and Leslie Caron. It wins six Academy Awards including the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture”. This is only the third musical to win the “Best Motion Picture” award up to this time.

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