This film firsts list is not just a technical account of the history of cinema. It's a combination of movie history firsts and cool firsts. When was the first time a cellphone was used? When was virtual reality first introduced on the silver screen? Movies have always been one step ahead of history, breaking down walls and tearing down stereotypes. The first cinematic interracial kiss came in 1957, 10 years before Loving v. Virginia legalized interracial marriage nationwide. Hollywood was sending characters to the moon in 1902, decades before NASA.
Tropes are also on this list of film firsts. What was the first film to use body-swapping as a plotline? You know, like when an uptight father doesn’t understand his son and the son doesn’t get why his dad is such a grump all the time, so they switch places in order to see what it’s like to live in the other person’s shoes. What about the nerdy girl makeover trope? A mousy gal with glasses, a bad haircut, and no sense of style suddenly becomes totally gorgeous with a few makeover tips and contact lenses.
Read about those Hollywood firsts in film and more. Also, make your voice heard. Be sure to vote up the coolest movie history firsts.
Steven Spielberg was only 27 years old when he directed Jaws (1975), and the film totally changed cinema forever. Jaws pretty much invented the concept of the summer blockbuster. During its initial run, the horror movie brought in $260 million, which may not seem like a lot of money for summer films today. However, when adjusted for inflation, Jaws has earned a total of $1,098,916,300. Before Jaws, films were traditionally released only in major markets, then slowly rolled out across the country. Jaws opened nationwide right away and distributors took notice of the massive box office success.
Actors: Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw John Searle, + more
Initial Release: 1975
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Also Rankedsee more on Jaws
Pixar has made so many great movies. Toy Story (1995) was the very first feature-length animated movie to be made entirely using CGI. The three films in the Toy Story franchise have grossed nearly $2 billion worldwide and a fourth installment is expected in 2018. Pixar's CGI set a very high bar for the animation boom that occurred in the two decades after Toy Story's release.
Actors: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Penn Jillette Annie Potts, + more
Initial Release: 1995
Directed by: John Lasseter
#33 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
#5 on The Best Movies for Kids
#41 on The Best Fantasy Moviessee more on Toy Story
It barely resembles the tiny cell phones we're used to, but Danny Glover's character Roger Murtaugh has a cell phone in Lethal Weapon (1987). The two-pound cell known as "the brick" actually became quite popular in the 1980s. You may also remember Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) had one for all his on-the-go financial wheelings and dealings in Wall Street (1987).
Actors: Mel Gibson, Gary Busey, Danny Glover, Joan Severance Darlene Love, + more
Initial Release: 1987
Directed by: Richard Donner
#60 on The Most Rewatchable Moviessee more on Lethal Weapon
Saturday Night Live has produced a lot of sketches that turned into movies. Some are great (Wayne's World), some are not so great (MacGruber). The first sketch-turned-movie was 1980's The Blues Brothers, starring original SNL cast members Dan Akroyd and John Belushi as the Elwood Brothers, two men on a mission from God. There has been a total of 12 SNL-inspired movies, but it's hard to top the first.
Actors: Carrie Fisher, Aretha Franklin, Steven Spielberg, Ray Charles Dan Aykroyd, + more
Initial Release: 1980
Directed by: John Landis
#40 on The Best '80s Action Moviessee more on The Blues Brothers
Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 horror classic Psycho was the first time a toilet was shown being flushed in a movie. The scene occurred just before Marion (Janet Leigh) stepped into the shower. So this first was actually the last time that Marion Crane would ever use a toilet. Violently killing off the lead character halfway through the movie was also a pretty big deal as well.
Actors: Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles Martin Balsam, + more
Initial Release: 1960
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
#34 on The Greatest Movie Themessee more on Psycho
Parents in the 1980s were concerned about the violence in several PG movies of the time, like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins. But those movies didn't quite deserve an R rating, either. The MPAA stepped in and found a middle ground in 1984. They created the PG-13 rating, which was first applied to the Cold War teen drama Red Dawn. At the time of its release, Red Dawn was deemed the most violent film ever by the Guinness Book of Records and The National Coalition of Television Violence, due to its 134 acts of violence per hour.
Actors: Charlie Sheen, Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey C. Thomas Howell, + more
Initial Release: 1984
Directed by: John Milius
#53 on The Best War Movies Ever
#44 on The Best '80s Action Movies
#36 on The Best '80s Teen Moviessee more on Red Dawn
Way before we all had a GPS in our cars and on our phones, James Bond (Sean Connery) was able to track the villain Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) in real time in the 1964 spy movie Goldfinger. Bond placed a tracking device in his nemesis's car and then was able to track Goldfinger on the satellite navigation screen of his Aston Martin DB5.
Actors: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Garry Marshall, Shirley Eaton Lois Maxwell, + more
Initial Release: 1964
Directed by: Guy Hamilton
#46 on The Best Adventure Moviessee more on Goldfinger
Typically, an X rating is a kiss of death for a movie. However, the X-rated Midnight Cowboy won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1970 after the G-rated Oliver! took it home in 1969. The movie was certainly controversial and shocking for its time. There were nude scenes combined with depictions of drug use and sex. Plus, the film was a tragedy and didn't have a happy ending. The film's X rating was eventually downgraded to an R upon re-release in 1970. In 1990, the MPAA did away with the X rating altogether and replaced it with an NC-17 label. Therefore, Midnight Cowboy is the first and will remain the only X-rated movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture.
Actors: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Bob Balaban, M. Emmet Walsh Brenda Vaccaro, + more
Initial Release: 1969
Directed by: John Schlesinger
#35 on The Best Movies of the '60s
#40 on The Best Bromance Moviessee more on Midnight Cowboy