The 80 Greatest Hollywood Moments
From the 1915 epic 'The Birth of a Nation' to 2010's record-breaking 'Toy Story 3,' Todd McCarthy looks at the best of Hollywood for THR's 80th anniversary.
In commemoration of The Hollywood Reporter's 80th anniversary, we've chosen 80 moments in the history of Hollywood -- from its movies as well as from real life -- that we feel carry more weight than others, that linger in the mind after many years, that signal changes in the way movies and their own company town developed, operated and felt. Eighty entirely different occasions could have been chosen, and 80 more beyond those, so rich is the history and resonant are the emotional reverberations that American films carry with them.
1889 Hollywood consists of one big ranch and hasn't been invented yet, but the efforts of Thomas Edison, his assistant W.K. L. Dickson and George Eastman bear fruit with the showing of film on the Edison Kinetophonograph, the first machine able to show moving pictures on film. We might all still be here today, but we wouldn't have gotten here in the same way without them.
1903 William S. Porter invents creative editing in The Life of an American Fireman and shocks audiences when he breaks down the fourth wall by having a cowboy shoot a gun right right at the camera at the end of the 12-minute The Great Train Robbery. The Western is born.
1907 Edison's rival William N. Selig comes to Los Angeles to start making pictures and two years later builds the first significant studio.
The Birth of a Nation
1913 Finding the climate at Flagstaff, Arizona, too snowy and inhospitable, Cecil B. De Mille and Oscar C. Apfel, with the backing of Jesse Lasky and Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn), reboard the train from New York and go to the end of the line in order to shoot their big Western The Squaw Man on natural locations and in a barn in a quiet, church-filled community called Hollywood. Other producers keen to escape Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company quickly follow suit.
1914 Carl Laemmle pays $3,500 for the Taylor Estate in Lankershim Township to build Universal Studios, which opens the following year. From the beginning, the public is invited to visit the lot and watch the doings at Movie City for 25 cents. The modern tour begins in 1964 and includes lunch at the commissary.
1915 With his incendiary three-hour epic The Birth of a Nation breaking all records, D.W. Griffith builds a massive Babylon set that towers over Sunset Boulevard. The elephants' descendents live on at Hollywood and Highland.
1919 Desirous of controlling their own destinies, four of Hollywood's most powerful figures -- Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford -- form United Artists.