Chris Hicks: Lots of Hollywood anniversaries to celebrate in 2014

Published: Thursday, July 3 2014 5:30 p.m. MDT

Charlie Chaplin dons his Little Tramp persona for the first time in the Keystone 1914 short "Kid Auto Races at Venice."


Hollywood loves an anniversary. In fact, for the studios to squeeze out more money from an old title, every year seems to be an anniversary for some movie or other.

And sometimes the studios get so excited they can';t wait. Last year brought the 75th anniversary Blu-ray box set for “The Wizard of Oz” … even though it was only the 74th anniversary.

Get ready for the one-year anniversary of “Frozen” in November.

This year has led to a number of such observances — and if a reissue or new box set of a beloved title will tempt us to dip into our pocketbook to buy another version of a film we already have on our shelves, well, why not?

So far we’ve noted:

The 75th anniversary of “Gone With the Wind,” the most popular movie of all time (measured by the number of actual tickets sold), which will have a new Blu-ray box set released in September, to include a hardback book of photos. (Uh oh, that means it’s also the 75th anniversary for all of those other great movies that came out in the much-touted movie year of 1939.)

The 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” which is now being shown in theaters around the country (locally at the Tower Theater in Salt Lake City) and has just been reissued in Blu-ray by the boutique label Criterion Collection with bounteous bonus features.

The 40th anniversary of Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” which was reissued in a new Blu-ray set in May. (It’s also the 40th anniversary of Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” — where’s that Blu-ray set?)

The 30th anniversary of “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai,” although I don’t know if anyone besides me cares about that one.

Hey, it’s also the 25th anniversary of “The Last Starfighter,” “Supergirl,” Clint Eastwood’s “Pink Cadillac” and “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” (although it wasn’t). But that’s just getting silly.

This is also the 100th anniversary of a number of notable historical events in motion pictures.

Although there had been prototypes as early as the mid-19th century, early devices that led to the creation of motion pictures as public entertainment, it wasn’t until the 1890s that public exhibition of celluloid images began in earnest.

And in 1914, a number of significant events and a great deal of burgeoning artistic talent came together to bring a level of maturity to the movies that would pave the way for its rapid development as a serious form of public entertainment.

The Strand Theatre in Manhattan’s Times Square opened for business, believed to be the first lavish auditorium created exclusively for motion-picture exhibition. It cost $1 million to build, sat 3,300 and stood for 73 years. It also helped the fledgling movie industry gain respect from New York’s society crowd, which had previously shunned movies as “undignified” (according to an issue of the American Showman trade magazine published at the time).

The now-lost short film “Hearts Adrift,” with Mary Pickford, was the first time the name of a star was billed above the title on theater marquees. As a result of that film’s ticket sales, Pickford asked for, and got, a big raise. And the immense popularity of her next film, “Tess of the Storm Country” (also released in 1914), made her the most popular actress in America and possibly the world.

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