1954 Timelines: 1950 to 1960

Paramount introduces its own “big–screen” process that they claim is better than CinemaScope because it is more flexible and produces much better image resolution. Called “VistaVision”, this process does not shoot the film through an anamorphic lens, but rather produces a wide–area negative by exposing standard 35mm film horizontally, thus producing an image that is two frames wide. The film is then projected using standard projectors that employ a special lens to rotate the image 90º. By using different lenses, the aspect ratio of the projected image can be made to range from 1.33:1 to 2:1, thereby adjusting the projected image to the size of the theater’s screen. Paramount did not insist that theaters install stereophonic sound equipment in order to show VistaVision.

 

There are now 3,500 theaters capable of showing CinemaScope motion pictures.

 

Joseph Breen retires as director of the Production Code Administration after 20 years. Geoffrey Shurlock is appointed to replace him, and soon afterwards the Production Code is amended to allow miscegenation, liquor and some profane words in future Hollywood productions.

 

Walt Disney has terminated his distribution agreement with RKO. All of his films in the future will be distributed by his own subsidiary, Buena Vista.

 

The Screen Actors Guild has sent a letter to the Immigration Bureau urging a “stricter application” of regulations governing “alien actors coming into this country to take supporting or even minor roles in movies being made here.”

 

Dorothy Dandridge is nominated for “Best Actress” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for her performance in the 20th Century–Fox movie, “Carmen Jones”. She is the first Black actress to be nominated in this category.

 

Howard Hughes has acquired all stock in RKO, becoming the first sole owner of a studio.

 

Significant Films:

Warner Bros. releases “Them” starring Edmund Gwenn and James Whitmore. This is among the first “atomic monster” movies to be made during this decade, and it remains one of the best.

Federico Fellini’s film “La Strada” is released in Italy. Starring his wife Giulietta Masina, along with Richard Basehart, and Anthony Quinn, the movie wins the first Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film” when the category in introduced in 1956.

Warner Bros. releases Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M For Murder”, starring Grace Kelly and Ray Milland. Although the film was shot in 3–D, it was never released in that format.

Columbia releases “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin. Along with next year’s “Rebel Without a Cause”, this film seems to capture the sense of alienation, suspicion of authority, and intolerance of hypocrisy felt by many young people during this decade.

Paramount releases “White Christmas” starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney. This is the first film to be shot in Paramount’s widescreen process called VistaVision.

Columbia releases “On the Waterfront” starring Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, and Eva Marie Saint. The movie wins eight Academy Awards, including the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture”.

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The Picture Show Man website was established in 2004 to be a comprehensive and free resource for anyone interested in vintage movies. Our focus is the history of motion pictures from the beginning of its development in 1890, to the end of 1960.

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