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History of Movies



The history of movies spans over a hundred years. The motion picture industry developed gradually from an entertaining new experience to one of the most important tools of communicating with the public and had a huge impact on technology, the arts and the political scene. In the late nineteenth century the movie audience’s imaginations were stimulated by the silent films. Beginning the twentieth century many changes began taking place such as films began assembling the scenes together and then cut to multiple shots of different angles and sizes. Theaters hired a pianist, organist and orchestras to play music that was fitting to the mood of the film in order to further entertain the audience and not keep them in silence. From the 1920s most films had suitable sheet music that was prepared to be appropriate to a specific portion of the movie.  European filmmakers, along with the contributions of actors like Charlie Chaplin and others, caught up with American film-making also contributing to the movie technology. In 1931 gothic horror films like Frankenstein and Dracula thrill the audiences.


In 1933 Cooper’s classic King Kong (“giant monster”) was released. Soon, this new technology led to soundtracks of speech, music and sound effects. Along the way, movies were now being produced outside instead of in studios. For instance, they were going for the beaches, on the water (like surfing), on boats, on islands; but almost always out in the great sunshine. In 1953 the most bold and daring movie of its time was made with the setting at an army base in Hawaii in 1941 starring an all-star cast of Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Deborah Kerr and Ernest Borgnine called From Here to Eternity. The most famous scene ever is when the bored housewife (Deborah Kerr) has an affair with the sergeant (Burt Lancaster) and the scene is with the two of them embracing on the beach as the surf crashes in. Wow, great scene! I don’t know how many takes they needed for that scene, but I would guess it involved a lot of suntan lotion to complete! The screenwriter was Daniel Taradash and directed by Fred Zinnemann (both won Oscars for the movie). They captured the time and place magnificently with the beautiful beaches, pristine waters and tropical breezes. They actually had to ‘clean up’ the film before releasing it (guess it was extremely racy for the times). This movie was undoubtedly the beginning of a new era.


The next leap was color in movies and by the end of the 1960s it was the norm for film makers. Many beach party movies sprang up in the 60s like Beach Blanket Bingo, Blue Lagoon and Where the Boys Are just to name a few. 1966 brought a great documentary called The Endless Summer by Bruce Brown. I believe it was the first great documentary movie about two surfers traveling around the globe in search of the perfect wave. By then the movies were being watched in homes by use of a new device called the VCR. The movie studios were terrified when the VCRs were first introduced and tried to ban the ownership, but of course they were unsuccessful.


The 1980s brought about a new control over the filming industry with two men by the names of Lucas and Spielberg. There were two films of Star Wars, three for Jaws and three for the Indiana Jones series. It was Lucas who launched THX, Ltd. in 1982, while Spielberg enjoyed his successful E.T. movie. In the 1990s came the ‘special effects films’ such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day and then in 1997 with Titanic and had significant commercial success in the theaters and on home video. The new transition was between the DVD and the replaced VHS. With the early years of 2000 Disney made the animation movie Treasure Planet using IMAX cinema. The first live action IMAX was in 2003 with The Matrix Revolutions and a re-release of The Matrix Reloaded. The Final Destination was released in August 2009 in “Real D 3D and D-Box”.


There have been so many fabulous movies made over the years like Gone with the Wind, Titanic (old & re-make versions). And the fun movies of the 60s that took place on the beaches with stars like Elvis Presley, Dwayne Hickman, Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone, Fred Mac Murray, Jean Hagen, Tommy Kirk, James Darren, Fabian, Brian Donlevy, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello – just to name a few. Suntan lotions were starting to be placed on the store shelves, but we wonder just how many people in the motion picture business were actually not getting sunburned? Do you think they used any protection at that time?


Now go outside in the wonderful sunshine & enjoy time with your family and/or significant other at the beach, pool or lake - and don’t forget your sunglasses!


-Ms. Suntan


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