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The History of American Film

The History of American Film from 1878 to the Present Day

The history of American film dates back to the very first days of the cinema, and its film industry has produced many of the major contributions to movie history. In 1878, Leland Stanford, the former Governor of California, enlisted the aid of English landscape photographer Eadweard Muybridge to settle a bet over whether all four of a horse’s hooves simultaneously left the ground when it was galloping. Muybridge settled the bet by lining twelve cameras along each side of a race track and stretching string across the track so that when the horse broke the string he triggered the camera's shutters. When the resulting images were played on a zoetrope, they presented the viewer with the illusion of movement. (please visit The Movies: Brainchild of a Killer for a more detailed account). It would be seventeen years before cinema in the form we recognise it today would finally emerge, and the intervening years would be filled with a fascinating cast of characters from both sides of the Atlantic all racing against time to be the first to bring the moving image to the screen.

From such apparently unconnected and insignificant developments did a multi-billion dollar industry develop which has been fearless in its determination to embrace perpetually-evolving media technologies. The American film industry, based primarily in Hollywood, was the first to bring talking pictures, stereoscopic sound, 3D movies, drive-ins and, ahem, smell-o-vision to the world and continues to spearhead the quest for new breakthroughs in screen technology.

The history of American film is filled with fascinating stories, both famous and obscure, about its movies and the people who made them, and it is Movie Movie’s mission to bring them to you in as much accurate detail as possible. By clicking on any of the links below you will find summaries of the significant events and incidents that occurred in that particular year or period, and a growing number of in-depth articles giving detailed accounts of the key moments in the history of American film, and its personalities, both past and present.

 

 

 

The History of American Film

19th Century

1878 - 1890        1891 - 1895         1896 - 1900

 

1900s

1901 - 1905        1906 - 1910

 

1910s

1911    1912    1913    1914    1915    1916    1917    1918    1919    1920

 

1920s

1921    1922    1923    1924    1925    1926    1927    1928    1929    1930

 

1930s

1931    1932    1933    1934    1935    1936    1937    1938    1939    1940

 

1940s

1941    1942    1943    1944    1945    1946    1947    1948    1949    1950

 

1950s

1951    1952    1953    1954    1955    1956    1957    1958    1959    1960

 

1960s

1961    1962    1963    1964    1965    1966    1967    1968    1969    1970

 

1970s

1971    1972    1973    1974    1975    1976    1977    1978    1979    1980 

 

1980s

1981    1982    1983    1984    1985    1986    1987    1988    1989    1990

 

1990s

1991    1992    1993    1994    1995    1996    1997    1998    1999    2000

 

2000s

2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007    2008    2009    2010

 

2010s

2011    2012    2013    2014    2015    2016    2017    2018    2019    2020

 

 

 

 

 

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