Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures’ television subsidiary, has begun to release its pre–1948 feature films to TV.
Harry and Albert Warner are selling their holdings in Warner Bros. to a group of investors headed by the First National Bank of Boston. Jack Warner, however, is holding on to his stock, and he remains the largest individual shareholder in the company.
Although the actor, Yul Brynner, has appeared in only one film before this year, during 1956 he is starring in three: “The King and I”, “The Ten Commandments”, and “Anastasia”. He wins the “Best Actor” Oscar for his performance as the irascible King of Siam in “The King and I”, a role he made famous on Broadway.
The Production Code has undergone a major rewrite. All remaining taboos have been lifted except for nudity, sexual perversion, and venereal disease. Geoffrey Shurlock, the director of the Production Code Administration, said that from now on it would be “the treatment that counts”. (In 1966 the Production Code would finally be scrapped, replaced by a voluntary rating system.)
For the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will award a separate Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film”. In the past, this was not a separate category, but an honorary award with no nominations.
Although the screenplay for the new Allied Artist film “Friendly Persuasion” has been nominated for an Academy Award, the screenwriter, Michael Wilson, is not listed in the film’s credits and he will not be eligible to receive the award if it wins. Wilson refused to testify in front of the House Un–American Activities Committee in 1951, and because of this, according to a clause in the Screen Writers Guild’s contracts, studios can omit his name from a film’s credits. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, put in the position of possibly conferring its highest honor on someone whose name does not appear in the screen credits, revises its bylaws so that the achievement itself can be eligible for nomination even if the specific writer is ineligible. (These new bylaws were repealed in 1959.)
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939) is shown for the first time on network television. It is the first film to be shown annually on TV.
20th Century–Fox releases “Love Me Tender” starring Richard Egan, Debra Paget, and Elvis Presley. This is Elvis Presley’s first movie role.
The King Brothers release “The Brave One” starring Michel Ray and Rodolfo Hoyos. The screenplay, which wins the Academy Award for “Best Motion Picture Story”, is credited to Robert Rich. Robert Rich, however, turns out to be a pseudonym for the blacklisted writer, Dalton Trumbo.
20th Century–Fox releases “Anastasia” starring Yul Brynner, Ingrid Bergman, and Helen Hayes. This film marks the return of Ingrid Bergman after being exiled to Europe for years due to her “immoral” behavior, i.e., having an affair while married. She wins the “Best Actress” Oscar for her performance.
United Artists releases “Around the World in 80 Days” starring David Niven, Cantinflas, Robert Newton, Shirley MacLaine, Charles Boyer, and a host of other stars. Produced by Michael Todd (who had never made a movie before), and filmed in the 70mm widescreen process called Todd–AO, the film wins five Academy Awards, including the Oscar for “Best Motion Picture”.