Celebrating the History of Motion Pictures from 1890 to 1960

1953 Timelines: 1950 to 1960

The Academy Award ceremony is broadcast on television for the first time. The show draws the largest single audience in television’s five–year commercial history.


After holding a public demonstration of its new widescreen process called “CinemaScope”, 20th Century–Fox announces that all of its future films will be shot using this new process. The studio recently bought up the rights to the special anamorphic lenses, used to produce the widescreen image, from their French inventor Henri Chrétien. Using these special lenses, a widescreen image is compressed onto standard 35mm–wide film and then, when it is projected onto the screen through another anamorphic lens, uncompressed back to its original widescreen image. Fox insists that theaters showing its CinemaScope pictures also install stereophonic sound equipment.


Warner Bros. announces that it will close down its operations for ninety days so it can ascertain which screen format (standard 1.33:1, 3–D, CinemaScope, or something else) to use in making its future movies.


MGM, United Artists, Columbia Pictures, and Disney officially commit to filming their future widescreen movies using the Fox CinemaScope process. Paramount decides to develop its own widescreen process because it considers CinemaScope’s widescreen aspect ratio to be too extreme, with not enough height.


After failing to develop its own widescreen anamorphic lenses, Warner Bros. signs a contract with 20th Century–Fox to use Fox’s CinemaScope process.


According to a report prepared for the Screen Actors Guild, movie production is at an “all–time low”. The preoccupation with new, expensive film technologies, and an increase in overseas production, were blamed for the slump.


Monogram Studios is renamed Allied Artists.


The success of “The Moon is Blue”, even without the Production Code’s seal of approval, is beginning to generate questions about the Production Code’s relevance.


The Library of Congress has issued two supplementary volumes of its Catalogue of Copyright Entries. All films registered for copyright from 1894 to 1949 are listed. The complete publication now lists over 76,000 films.


Significant Films:

Paramount releases “Shane” starring Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur. Although this film had been shot in the standard aspect ratio of 1.33:1, Paramount suggested that theaters crop the top and bottom of the film and project it using a wide–angle lens, thus creating an ersatz widescreen image with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1.

20th Century–Fox releases “The Robe” starring Richard Burton, Victor Mature, and Jean Simmons. This was the first film shot in CinemaScope, although Fox secretly shot it also in 3–D in case the 3–D format became the new standard. Within one year this film will have world–wide gross receipts totaling over $29.5 million. The Academy presents the studio with a special statuette “in recognition of their imagination, showmanship and foresight in introducing the revolutionary process known as CinemaScope.”

Paramount releases William Wyler’s “Roman Holiday” starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. The film wins three Academy Awards including the “Best Actress” Oscar for Audrey Hepburn in her first starring role.

Otto Preminger releases “The Moon Is Blue”, starring Maggie McNamara, William Holden and David Niven. This film is released without the Production Code’s Seal of Approval. Even without the seal, however, the film grosses over $3.5 million and reaches #15 on Variety’s list of top 50 grossing films for 1953.

Columbia releases “From Here to Eternity” starring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, and Deborah Kerr. The film wins eight Academy Awards including the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture”, tying “Gone With the Wind” for number of Oscars won.

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