One century ago, Adolph Zukor changed the course of movie history and planted the seeds of Paramount Pictures. Celebrating its centenary, Paramount revealed a stylish poster featuring 100 films from the studio's history. Each film is hinted at by a representative badge, accompanied by the release year.
The poster inspires relish in the studio's contributions to film, even with a few badges that confounded even my useless bank of movie trivia. The following movies on the poster play an important role in Paramount's, as well as cinema's, history.
"The Loves of Queen Elizabeth" (1912)
One of the earliest feature-length films, Adolph Zukor brought France's "The Loves of Queen Elizabeth" to the United States and proved we had longer attention spans. Zukor's success and popularity with the film led him to a Utah theater owner's small startup, Paramount, and added his vision for a meteoric rise.
This thrilling silent film about WWI fighter pilots not only launched Gary Cooper's career, but "Wings" was bestowed with the very first Academy Award for Best Picture. Paramount did a limited theatrical re-release earlier this year of a restored print of the silent film.
"Duck Soup" (1933)
A token face of early Hollywood, anything Groucho Marx and his brothers did is relevant. "Duck Soup" was released when the Great Depression weighed heavy, but they dared to make America laugh with zany, anarchic comedy.
"Duck Soup" was the Marx Brothers' last film with Paramount and also Zeppo's last appearance with his siblings. On "AFI's 100 Years-100 Laughs," it's listed as the fifth funniest movie of all time.
Legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille reached a peak of epic decadence with "Cleopatra," famous for elaborate sets and risqué performances. From the opening shot of a nude slave to Cleopatra's seduction of Antony, this Best Picture-nominee was one of the last studio productions untouched by the Hays code.
"Sunset Blvd" (1950)
A veritable American classic, Billy Wilder's definitive film noir is testament to why he was essential to Hollywood's Golden Age. Gloria Swanson and Erich von Stroheim were both Oscar-nominated among 11 nominations and three wins for "Sunset Blvd."
The canonized the line: "All right, Mr. DeMille: I'm ready for my close-up."
With "Rear Window" in 1954, Alfred Hitchcock joined Paramount until his last full production there: "Vertigo." The 1958 suspense flick wasn't initially well-received, but it eventually hypnotized critics with its undeniable force of filmmaking.
Paramount had a chance at Hitchcock's "Psycho" but forced the director to personally finance it. Though the now 100-year-old studio handled theatrical distribution, the rights were lost to Universal.
"Breakfast at Tiffany's"
Paramount wanted Hitchcock to direct Audrey Hepburn, which never happened. That urge was surely forgotten when they got Hepburn in Blake Edwards's "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Filled with iconic Hollywood imagery and the music of Henri Mancini and Johnny Mercer, the film later became steeped in controversy for Mickey Ronney's distasteful depiction of an Asian character.
The Bob Evans Years
Many movies produced by mogul Bob Evans (See "The Kid Stays in the Picture") are found on the poster. From 1966 to 1974, he produced a definitive slice of American cinema as studio chief. He also independently produced films distributed by Paramount.Later, Paramount became a bastion of '80s classics, distributing and co-producing efforts by Jerry Bruckheimer, Steven Spielberg, Dino De Laurentiis, John Hughes, and Eddie Murphy, to name a few. While the studio's power dwindled in a changing industry, Paramount is one of the few Hollywood pillars still standing.
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