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Today in Movie History - March 22


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March 22, 1895 - The Lumiere brothers hold their first public film projection, showing LA SORTIE DES USINES LUMIERE (LEAVING THE LUMIERE FACTORY) to a gathering at the National Society for Industrial Encouragement in rue de Rennes in Paris.


March 22, 1924 - Writer-director Louis Delluc dies in Paris. The official cause of death is tuberculosis, but those who knew him best say he died from overwork. Delluc never reovered after being struck by the disease the previous autumn while shooting L'INONDATION. In his short working life, he wrote 15 novels, many poems, essays and reviews, six books on cinema, hundreds of newspaper articles, eight completed films and multiple unfinished screenplays and story outlines he was still working on at the time of his death.


March 22, 1956 - Italian actress Anna Magnani is asleep in her apartment in Rome when she's awakened with the news that she has won the Best Actress Oscar for 1955 for her first American film, Paramount's THE ROSE TATTOO. In this adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play, Magnani plays a widowed housewife tempted into a love affair with a truck driver, played by Burt Lancaster. Short, unkempt in appearance, a bit overweight by American standards and using no makeup to hide the dark circles under her eyes, Magnani certainly made for an unconventional leading lady in a Hollywood romance. 1955's Best Actor winner was also, judged purely by his looks, an unconventional casting choice for a romance. Ernest Borgnine, up to now havng appeared almost entirely as heavies, wins for his sensitive portrayal of a dogfaced 34-year-old Bronx butcher who forges a relationship with a plain Brooklyn schoolteacher, played by Betsy Blair, just at the moment he was resigning himself to living out his life as a bachelor in MARTY from United Artists. Bringing a new naturalism to a mainstream Hollywood film, MARTY also wins Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director for Delbert Mann and Best Screenplay for Paddy Chayefsky. Borgnine was presented his trophy by Grace Kelly, last year's Best Actress winner, making her last official appearance at a Hollywood event, having just announced her engagement to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Speaking on behalf of the entire American film community, Jerry Lewis, the evening's MC, offered Kelly his best wishes. James Dean became this year the first person ever posthumously nominated for an Oscar, for his performance in Warner Brothers' EAST OF EDEN. Jo Van Fleet wins Best Supporting Actress for playing Dean's mother in that same film. Up-and-comer Jack Lemmon wins Best Supporting Actor for MISTER ROBERTS, also from Warner Brothers.


March 22, 1959 - Alain Delon and Romy Schneider announce their engagement in Switzerland. The couple met while filming CHRISTINE, directed by Pierre Gaspard-Huit, in Vienna the previous summer. The impending union has finally received the blessing of Schneider's mother, the actress Magda Schneider. Romy Schneider had broken off all contact with her family when they wouldn't give their blessing, but by all accounts, everyone is on speaking terms again.


March 22, 1999 - Miramax's SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is the surprise Best Picture Oscar winner over odd-on favorite, Dreamworks' SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The dramedy could have been little more than an extended gag - the great playwright, struggling with both writer's block and a complicated love life, must draw inspiration from his own experiences to complete his next play. Appropriately for a film about a writer, the most-talked-about aspect of the film by the critics is the witty script, which wins a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Tom Stoppard. Gwyneth Paltrow tearfully accepts her Oscar for Best Actress, while Judi Dench - who's only in the film for eight minutes - walked away with the Best Supporting Actress trophy. SHAKESPEARE in love also wins for Best Costumes and Best Art Direction, giving it a whopping six Oscars for the night. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg picks up his second Best Director Oscar in six years. RYAN misses out on the night's biggest prize, but cleans up in the technical categories, winning for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Roberto Benigni wins Best Actor for LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, distributed in America by Miramax, the first time that award has ever gone to a performer in a foreign-language film. LIFE also wins Oscars for Best Score and Best Foreign Language Film. GODS AND MONSTERS from Lionsgate wins Best Adapted Screenplay.

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