2024 Classic Film Anniversaries
This year is bumper-packed full of classic film anniversaries, from stylish heists to enduring comedies. Art & Hue rounds-up the milestones of beloved & cult films to celebrate in 2024.
The Third Man 75th Anniversary – 75 years of The Third Man
Produced by legendary filmmakers Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, this noir thriller in post-War Vienna sees Joseph Cotten’s character Holly Martin trying to uncover what happened to his friend Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles.
Although it’s classed as a British film, as it was written by Graham Greene, directed by Carol Reed, and produced by London Films, the cast of American & European actors filmed in Austria by an Australian cinematographer make the film a collaboration of international talent.
Starring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Trevor Howard & Valli, the distributors British Lion were experimenting at the time with the idea of premiering films outside of London and Hastings was the first location chosen.
The Grand Gala World Premiere of “The Third Man” was held at the Ritz Cinema in Hastings, East Sussex, on the 1st of September 1949 before the London opening on the 2nd at the Plaza Cinema, and then going on general release nationwide from the 4th.
Ealing Comedies 75th Anniversary – 75 Years of Ealing Comedies
On the 28th of April 1949, “Passport to Pimlico” opened at both the Gaumont and Pavilion cinemas in London and proved to be a box office success.
Produced under the stewardship of Michael Balcon at Ealing Studios, “Passport to Pimlico” was one of the most popular films of 1949 and, along with “Whisky Galore!”, “Kind Hearts & Coronets” & “A Run for Your Money“, all released in the same year within the space of a few months, firmly established the Ealing Comedies.
Even though the Pimlico residents in the film prefer pints of beer in their local pub, it seems more appropriate to raise a glass of wine from the Burgundy region of France to toast the comedic institution’s 75th birthday. Santé!
To mark 75 years of Ealing Comedies, Art & Hue presents 12 stylish pop art prints inspired by Ealing’s classic comedy films. These reimagined & remixed poster designs pay homage to the wit & charm of the era, celebrating the iconic productions that have left an indelible mark on film history & British comedy.
Blackmail 95th – 95 years of Hitchcock’s Blackmail
Alfred Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” starred Anny Ondra (albeit dubbed with the voice of Joan Barry) as a woman blackmailed for defending herself, based on Charles Bennett’s 1928 stage play of the same name.
“Blackmail” was one of the most successful releases of that year, received critical praise, and featured set pieces we’ve come to associate with Hitchcock’s unique style of thriller.
Whilst other films claim to be the first British “talking picture”, they played sound separately, such as on a vinyl record, along with the pictures; Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” was the first British film to include the soundtrack on the actual film reel cementing its status as “the first British talkie”.
Devil Girl from Mars 70th – 70 years of Devil Girl from Mars
Resplendent in patent pleather, with an outfit that most probably inspired Darth Vader’s black helmet and cape, Patricia Laffan’s alien “Queen Nyah” lands in rural Scotland on the hunt for men.
With the Martian population dying out, her mission is to take men back to Mars to repopulate the planet.
So bad it’s great, the science fiction film “Devil Girl from Mars” has achieved cult status for the high-camp production and low-tech special effects.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 55th – 55 year of OHMSS
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” has it all: Diana Rigg, George Lazenby, Joanna Lumley, Jenny Hanley, Julie Ege, Anouska Hempel, Verner Panton lighting, a mountain-top lair, a Christmas song, a beautifully poignant love song by Armstrong, George Baker, and arguably the best John Barry soundtrack ever.
A classic film in its own right, as part of the cinematic legacy of Bond it’s a stand-out piece of filmmaking that demonstrated that the franchise could survive the departure of Sean Connery (even though he did return for “Diamonds are Forever” once it was realised that George Lazenby wasn’t to reprise the role).
Her supreme acting talent clearly rubbed off on Lazenby who holds his own in the film, particularly in the emotional scenes such as the tragic ending.
The film has many fans and admirers including directors Steven Soderbergh and Christopher Nolan, and actor & writer Mark Gatiss, who rank it as the best cinematic outing of Bond.
The film’s global premiere was in Japan on the 13th of December 1969, before the Royal premiere in London on the 18th of December 1969 at the Odeon Leicester Square. The film then went on national release in Britain and America on the 19th of December 1969.
The Italian Job 55th Anniversary – 55 years of The Italian Job
The unusual combination of Noel Coward, Michael Caine, and Benny Hill planning a bullion raid in Italy resulted in memorable scenes of minis driving where they shouldn’t – through shopping arcades and across rooftops.
Filled with football fans and shot through with the rousing song by Quincy Jones, “Getta Bloomin’ Move On! (The Self Preservation Society)”, the film is bursting with a confident British swagger, like a football-mad nation that owned the 1960s and had won the previous World Cup.
I’m All Right Jack 65th – 65 years of I’m All Right Jack
A satirical look at trade unions and businessmen, in which neither side comes out well, the industrial relations comedy was well received by cinemagoers, making it one of the most successful films at the box office in 1959, and by critics, winning the BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay.
A sequel of sorts, “I’m All Right Jack” sees the return of characters from the 1956 film “Private’s Progress”, including Ian Carmichael as Stanley Windrush, Dennis Price as Bertram Tracepurcel, Richard Attenborough as Sydney DeVere Cox, and Terry-Thomas as Major Hitchcock.
Initially unwilling, the legendary British filmmakers John & Roy Boulting had to persuade Peter Sellers to play the supercilious shop steward in the satirical comedy, a role which would see Sellers win the BAFTA for Best British Actor.
“I’m All Right Jack” was a huge hit, so much so that Prime Minister Harold Macmillan apparently requested a copy to show to President Eisenhower on his visit to Great Britain in 1959.
More upcoming classic film anniversaries in 2024
On the 11th of August 1984, Scottish comedy “Comfort & Joy” held its world premiere at the Edinburgh Playhouse. With Bill Paterson, Alex Norton & Clare Grogan, the film sees a radio DJ getting mixed up with rival ice cream vans in Glasgow.
Opening at the New Gallery & Tivoli cinemas in London on the 17th of March 1949, the classic Scottish film “Floodtide” stars Gordon Jackson (who met his future wife Rona Anderson on this film), with great scenes of the River Clyde, plus John Laurie, Jimmy Logan, Elizabeth Sellars & Molly Weir.
The Rainbow Jacket 70th
On the 27th of May 1954, Ealing‘s horse racing drama “The Rainbow Jacket” opened at the Odeon Leicester Square, with Honor Blackman & Sam Kydd plus Sid James, Kay Walsh, Bill Owen, & Robert Morley, and glimpses of Katie Johnson & Glyn Houston.
The joint world premieres of the 1949 Welsh drama “The Last Days of Dolwyn” took place on the 27th of April 1949 at Bangor’s Plaza and at London’s Empire Leicester Square. Inspired by true events, it stars Richard Burton in his film debut, Emlyn Williams (who also wrote & directed the film), Roddy Hughes, & Hugh Griffith. The day after the premiere, Emlyn was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at the University of Wales in Bangor.
On the 25th March 1934, the Gracie Fields film “Love, Life & Laughter” premiered at the Rialto Cinema in London. Gracie was won of the biggest British film stars of the 1930s and, along with George Formby, helped to bankroll Ealing Studios.
The Divided Heart 70th Anniversary
On the 11th of November 1954, “The Divided Heart”, starring Yvonne Mitchell, Eddie Byrne, Cornell Borchers & Liam Redmond, opened at the Gaumont Haymarket cinema in London. The critically-acclaimed drama went on to win three BAFTAs including Best Actress for Yvonne Mitchell.
The Weak & the Wicked 70th Anniversary
On the 4th of February 1954, J. Lee Thompson’s prison drama “The Weak & the Wicked” starring Glynis Johns, with Diana Dors & Rachel Roberts, opened at the Leicester Square Empire cinema in London.
Passport to Shame 65th
On the 6th of February 1959, “Passport to Shame” starring Diana Dors & Herbert Lom, with early film roles for Jackie Collins, Michael Caine, & Joan Sims, opened at the Pavilion Cinema in London.
The Small Back Room 75th
Helter Skelter 75th
On the 7th of August 1949, Basil Radford‘s final film with Naunton Wayne, “Helter Skelter”, with Mervyn Johns, Zena Marshall, Terry-Thomas, Harry Secombe, Kenneth Griffith, Dennis Price & Glynis Johns, was released (with clips from “It’s Not Cricket”).
On the 17th of September 1964, the world premiere of the iconic Bond film “Goldfinger”, starring Sean Connery & Honor Blackman, with Margaret Nolan & Shirley Eaton (and the classic Shirley Bassey theme song), was held at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.
The Man with the Golden Gun 50th
On the 19th of December 1974, Prince Philip attended the World premiere in London of Roger Moore‘s second Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”, with The Wicker Man-alumni Britt Ekland & Christopher Lee, plus Lulu singing the theme.
The Wicker Man 50th “official”
Despite first premiering to the public in 1973, the first “official” public screenings of cult film “The Wicker Man” were the Scottish “premieres” on the 13th of January 1974, screened at the Regal Cinema, Stranraer and The Cinema, Newton Stewart.
On the 19th of July 1964, “Crooks in Cloisters” opened at the ABC Ardwick cinema in Manchester, and Barbara Windsor‘s Carry On-debut in “Carry On Spying” held some regional openings and press screenings on the 29th of July 1964 before the film went on general release nationwide from the 2nd of August.
On the 5th of March 1959, the second Carry On film, hospital comedy “Carry On Nurse“, premiered at the Carlton cinema in London. Following the booming box-office success of the very first Carry On outing in 1958, “Carry On Sergeant“, the team created “Carry On Nurse” with many returning actors, including Shirley Eaton, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques & Charles Hawtrey.
On the 3rd of September 1959, the third Carry On film “Carry On Teacher” opened at the Plaza Cinema in London. The success of the second Carry On, “Carry On Nurse“, was swiftly followed by “Carry On Teacher” with Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims & Kenneth Williams returning for this third outing, joined by a very young Richard O’Sullivan & Carol White as pupils.
On the 10th of December 1964, the classic British comedy “Carry On Cleo” had its world premiere at the Warner Cinema in London. Regarded by many to be one of the best Carry On films, the savvy production made use of the sets abandoned at Pinewood when the production of the lavish epic “Cleopatra”, starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton, decamped to Italy.
On the 8th of December 1974, the film version of “Man About The House” with Yootha Joyce, Brian Murphy, Sally Thomsett, Paula Wilcox, & Richard O’Sullivan opened at the ABC Cinema in Manchester. The popular TV sitcom spawned a film version and the spin-off series “George & Mildred” which was also to get a film outing.
Percy’s Progress 50th
On the 29th of August 1974, saucy 70s comedy “Percy’s Progress” opened in London at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue cinema. Perhaps not a “classic” but a fascinating snapshot of the era packed full of stars including Julie Ege, Vikki Richards, Carol Hawkins, Leigh Lawson, Dame Edna, Madeline Smith, Milo O’Shea, T.P. McKenna, Harry H. Corbett & Jenny Hanley.
The Bargee 60th
On the 23rd of April 1964, the British comedy film “The Bargee” premiered at the Empire Cinema in London. The film stars Harry H. Corbett, Ronnie Barker, Julia Foster, & Hugh Griffith, along with Michael Robbins, Una Stubbs, Patricia Hayes & Eric Barker.
On the 9th of January 1964, the classic comedy “The Pink Panther” received its London premiere at the Leicester Square Theatre. The film had already opened in Italy in 1963 but 1964 spread the tour-de-force performances by Peter Sellers, David Niven, Claudia Cardinale & Capucine.
The Love Lottery 70th
On the 21st of January 1954, Ealing comedy “The Love Lottery” with David Niven, Peggy Cummins, Gordon Jackson, Herbert Lom, scenes at Lake Como, & ambitious dream sequences, had its Royal World Premiere in Christchurch, New Zealand, with The Queen & Prince Philip.
For Better, for Worse 70th
On the 30th of September 1954, the British comedy “For Better, For Worse”, starring Cecil Parker, Dennis Price, Dirk Bogarde, Susan Stephen, Sid James & Jackie Collins opened at the Warner cinema in London.
Every Day’s a Holiday 60th
On the 26th of November 1964, the Butlins-set comedy musical film “Every Day’s A Holiday”, with John Leyton & Liz Fraser, opened at London’s Warner cinema. The cast also includes Richard O’Sullivan, Ron Moody, Patrick Newell and Freddie & the Dreamers.
On the 18th of November 1959, the 1959 swords-and-sandals epic “Ben-Hur” starring Charlton Heston premiered in New York< with Cathy O’Donnell, Stephen Boyd, George Relph, Laurence Payne, & Hugh Griffith who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in the film.
Becoming world-famous as the home of the Carry On and Bond films, construction began on the studios in early June 1935 when existing buildings around Heatherden Hall started to be demolished, and Pinewood was officially opened the following year in September 1936.
These are just some of the film anniversaries taking place in 2024 – there are more film milestones, as well as TV events, to celebrate this year.
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