1955 Timelines: 1950 to 1960

Most studios have switched from using Technicolor’s three–strip color process to using Eastman Kodak’s “Eastman Color” negative film stock. Kodak’s single–strip color negative film can be used in any camera, and processed and printed by conventional means.

 

Attempting to match and surpass Cinerama, Mike Todd and American Optical introduce a new widescreen process called “Todd–AO”. Using 65mm–wide film stock for shooting, and a 70mm print for projecting (which allows six magnetic soundtracks), the Todd–AO process achieves the same sharpness and resolution of pre–widescreen movies but on a deeply curved 52 X 26 foot screen. The process also shoots and projects the movie at 30–frames per second, instead of the standard 24–frames per second, eliminating flicker and improving image resolution. Although never shown outside of a few hundred specially equipped theaters, Todd–AO establishes itself as the premier widescreen process for prestige films. (In order to reduce and print the images onto standard 35mm film stock, so they could be shown in conventional theaters, Todd–AO movies were filmed at two different speeds – 30 and 24 frames per second.)

 

20th Century–Fox has opposed the filming of “Rebel Without A Cause” in black and white, having decided that, for reasons of prestige, all films shot in CinemaScope must be in color. The film’s director, Nicholas Ray, has been forced to interrupt shooting at Warner Bros. and begin again using Eastman Color film.

 

General Teleradio, Inc., which has just purchased the assets of RKO, has sold the studio’s library of 740 features and 1,100 shorts to the C&C Television Corporation.

 

The NBC television network televised the new British movie, “The Constant Husband”. This is the first time that a feature–length film has premiered on TV in the U.S. before reaching theaters.

 

Having just completed filming the movie “Giant” , James Dean dies in an automobile accident at the age of 24. Although his film “Rebel Without a Cause” has not been released yet, his first film “East of Eden” made him an overnight sensation.

 

According to the Motion Picture Herald’s annual referendum among cinema staff, the most popular star at the box–office is James Stewart.

 

Charlie Chaplin has sold his share of United Artists to the studio. Mary Pickford tries to buy Chaplin’s share, but is outbid by Samuel Goldwyn.

 

Significant Films:

Universal–International releases “Foxfire”, starring Jane Russell and Jeff Chandler. This was the last Hollywood film to use Technicolor’s three–strip cameras.

The Magna Theatre Corporation releases the film version of Broadway’s hit musical “Oklahoma”. Starring Gordon MacRae, Rod Steiger, and Shirley Jones, this was the first film made using the Todd–AO widescreen process. It is a huge commercial success.

Allied Artists releases the sci–fi film “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter. Focusing on forced conformity, paranoia, and fear of those around us, the film is seen by some as an anti–Communist “better dead than Red” commentary, and by others as a condemnation of McCarthyism.

20th Century–Fox releases “The Seven Year Itch” starring Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe. The film produces one of the most famous shots of Monroe when she stands over a subway grating as an updraft of air from a passing train billows her white dress.

United Artists releases “Night of the Hunter” starring Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters. This is the first and only film to be directed by the famous actor, Charles Laughton. Pauline Kael, writing for the New Yorker in 1968, would call it “one of the most frightening movies ever made.”

Warner Bros. releases Elia Kazan’s film “East of Eden” starring James Dean, Raymond Massey, and Julie Harris. James Dean, in his first starring role, will become the first actor ever to be posthumously nominated for an Academy Award.

Warner Bros. releases “Rebel Without a Cause” starring James Dean and Natalie Wood. Dean’s portrayal of youthful alienation, rebelliousness, and frustration with hypocrisy, casts him as the prototype of the fifties rebel. This movie, along with last year’s “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando, came to symbolize the disaffection and angst felt by many young people during this decade.

United Artists releases “Marty” starring Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, and Esther Minciotti. Based on Paddy Chayefsky’s television play, the film wins four Academy Awards including the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture”. Never before has the motion picture industry been so complimentary to its archenemy, TV.

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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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