In Hollywood 1938, Catherine Jurca brings to light a tumultuous year of crisis that has been neglected in histories of the studio era. With attendance in decline, negative publicity about stars that were "poison at the box office," and a spate of bad films, industry executives decided that the public was fed up with the movies. Jurca describes their desperate attempt to win back audiences by launching Motion Pictures’ Greatest Year, a massive, and unsuccessful, public relations campaign conducted in theaters and newspapers across North America. Drawing on the records of studio personnel, independent exhibitors, moviegoers, and the motion pictures themselves, she analyzes what was wrong—and right—with Hollywood at the end of a heralded decade, and how the industry’s troubles changed the making and marketing of films in 1938 and beyond.
This book explores the ways in which Hollywood film cycles from the 1930s to the 1960s were shaped by their surrounding industrial contexts and market environments, to build an inclusive conception of the form, operation, and function of film cycles. By foregrounding patterns of distribution, spaces of exhibition, and modes of consumption as key components of the form and mechanics of cycles, this book develops a methodology for defining cycles based on an analysis of the industry and trade discourse. Applying her unique framework to six case studies of different cycles, Zoe Wallin blends a wide range of historical sources to analyze the many cultural, social, political, aesthetic, and industrial contexts relevant to these films. This book makes an important contribution to the literature in the area of film historiography, and will be of interest to any scholars of film studies, history and media studies.
The Backstudio Picture and the Mystique of Making Movies
Author: Steven Cohan
Pubpsher: Oxford University Press
Category: Performing Arts
The backstudio picture, or the movie about movie-making, is a staple of Hollywood film production harking back to the silent era and extending to the present day. What gives backstudios their coherence as a distinctive genre, Steven Cohan argues in Hollywood by Hollywood, is their fascination with the mystique of Hollywood as a geographic place, a self-contained industry, and a fantasy of fame, leisure, sexual freedom, and modernity. Yet by the same token, if backstudio pictures have rarely achieved blockbuster box-office success, what accounts for the film industry's interest in continuing to produce them? The backstudio picture has been an enduring genre because, aside from offering a director or writer a chance to settle old scores, in branding filmmaking with the Hollywood mystique, the genre solicits consumers' strong investment in the movies. Whether inspiring the "movie crazy" fan girls of the early teens and twenties or the wannabe filmmakers of this century heading to the West Coast after their college graduations, backstudios have given emotional weight and cultural heft to filmmaking as the quintessential American success story. But more than that, a backstudio picture is concerned with shaping perceptions of how the film industry works, with masking how its product depends upon an industrial labor force, including stardom, and with determining how that work's value accrues from the Hollywood brand stamped onto the product. Cohan supports his well theorized and well researched claims with nuanced discussions of over fifty backstudios, some canonical and well-known, and others obscure and rarely seen. Covering the hundred-year timespan of feature length film production, Hollywood by Hollywood offers an illuminating perspective for considering anew the history of American movies.
Between 1933 and 1939, representations of the Nazis and the full meaning of Nazism came slowly to Hollywood, growing more ominous and distinct only as the decade wore on. Recapturing what ordinary Americans saw on the screen during the emerging Nazi threat, Thomas Doherty reclaims forgotten films, such as Hitler's Reign of Terror (1934), a pioneering anti-Nazi docudrama by Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr.; I Was a Captive of Nazi Germany (1936), a sensational true tale of "a Hollywood girl in Naziland!"; and Professor Mamlock (1938), an anti-Nazi film made by German refugees living in the Soviet Union. Doherty also recounts how the disproportionately Jewish backgrounds of the executives of the studios and the workers on the payroll shaded reactions to what was never simply a business decision. As Europe hurtled toward war, a proxy battle waged in Hollywood over how to conduct business with the Nazis, how to cover Hitler and his victims in the newsreels, and whether to address or ignore Nazism in Hollywood feature films. Should Hollywood lie low, or stand tall and sound the alarm? Doherty's history features a cast of charismatic personalities: Carl Laemmle, the German Jewish founder of Universal Pictures, whose production of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) enraged the nascent Nazi movement; Georg Gyssling, the Nazi consul in Los Angeles, who read the Hollywood trade press as avidly as any studio mogul; Vittorio Mussolini, son of the fascist dictator and aspiring motion picture impresario; Leni Riefenstahl, the Valkyrie goddess of the Third Reich who came to America to peddle distribution rights for Olympia (1938); screenwriters Donald Ogden Stewart and Dorothy Parker, founders of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League; and Harry and Jack Warner of Warner Bros., who yoked anti-Nazism to patriotic Americanism and finally broke the embargo against anti-Nazi cinema with Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939).
Examines how Hollywood responded to and reflected the political and social changes that America experienced during the 1930sIn the popular imagination, 1930s Hollywood was a dream factory producing escapist movies to distract the American people from the greatest economic crisis in their nations history. But while many films of the period conform to this stereotype, there were a significant number that promoted a message, either explicitly or implicitly, in support of the political, social and economic change broadly associated with President Franklin D. Roosevelts New Deal programme. At the same time, Hollywood was in the forefront of challenging traditional gender roles, both in terms of movie representations of women and the role of women within the studio system. With case studies of actors like Shirley Temple, Cary Grant and Fred Astaire, as well as a selection of films that reflect politics and society in the Depression decade, this fascinating book examines how the challenges of the Great Depression impacted on Hollywood and how it responded to them.Topics covered include:How Hollywood offered positive representations of working womenCongressional investigations of big-studio monopolization over movie distributionHow three different types of musical genres related in different ways to the Great Depression the Warner Bros Great Depression Musicals of 1933, the Astaire/Rogers movies, and the MGM akids musicals of the late 1930sThe problems of independent production exemplified in King Vidors Our Daily BreadCary Grants success in developing a debonair screen persona amid Depression conditionsContributors Harvey G. Cohen, King's College LondonPhilip John Davies, British LibraryDavid Eldridge, University of HullPeter William Evans, Queen Mary, University of LondonMark Glancy, Queen Mary University of LondonIna Rae Hark, University of South CarolinaIwan Morgan, University College LondonBrian Neve, University of BathIan Scott, University of ManchesterAnna Siomopoulos, Bentley UniversityJ. E. Smyth, University of WarwickMelvyn Stokes, University College LondonMark Wheeler, London Metropolitan University
"The entire field of film historians awaits the AFI volumes with eagerness."--Eileen Bowser, Museum of Modern Art Film Department Comments on previous volumes: "The source of last resort for finding socially valuable . . . films that received such scant attention that they seem 'lost' until discovered in the AFI Catalog."--Thomas Cripps "Endlessly absorbing as an excursion into cultural history and national memory."--Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
George Gallup in Hollywood is a fascinating look at the film industry's use of opinion polling in the 1930s and '40s. George Gallup's polling techniques first achieved fame when he accurately predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would be reelected president in 1936. Gallup had devised an extremely effective sampling method that took households from all income brackets into account, and Hollywood studio executives quickly pounced on the value of Gallup's research. Soon he was gauging reactions to stars and scripts for RKO Pictures, David O. Selznick, and Walt Disney and taking the public's temperature on Orson Welles and Desi Arnaz, couples such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and films like Gone with the Wind, Dumbo, and Fantasia. Through interviews and extensive research, Susan Ohmer traces Gallup's groundbreaking intellectual and methodological developments, examining his comprehensive approach to market research from his early education in the advertising industry to his later work in Hollywood. The results of his opinion polls offer a fascinating glimpse at the class and gender differences of the time as well as popular sentiment toward social and political issues.
HUAC and the Evolution of the Red Menace, 1935-1950
Author: John J. Gladchuk
This work concentrates on tracing the evolution of the so-called "red menace" phenomenon as a means of demonstrating the correlation between growing American paranoia and the success of the anticommunist campaign (1935-1955). The House Committee on Un-American Activities 1947 investigation of Hollywood, the nation's most visible industry, served a critical role in conjuring up anti-red hysteria and fanning the flames of virulent anticommunism. Using conveniently unjust tactics, the Committee "painted" targeted Hollywood personalities red and established the infamous blacklist - certified proof in the minds of many that "subversives" were indeed conspiring from within. A failed attempt on behalf of the "Hollywood Ten" to demonstrate the Committee’s undemocratic nature allowed HUAC to forge ahead with its investigation and establish the anticommunist foundation upon which Joseph McCarthy would construct his campaign. Hollywood and Anticommunism stands as an important contribution to McCarthy-era literature and should appeal to all interested in the early Cold War and the impact that unwarranted hysteria has had and continues to have on the growth and development of the nation.
Animation—Art and Industry is an introductory reader covering a broad range of animation studies topics, focusing on both American and international contexts. It provides information about key individuals in the fields of both independent and experimental animation, and introduces a variety of topics relevant to the critical study of media—censorship, representations of gender and race, and the relationship between popular culture and fine art. Essays span the silent era to the present, include new media such as web animation and gaming, and address animation made using a variety of techniques.
In Hollywood Left and Right, Steven J. Ross tells a story that has escaped public attention: the emergence of Hollywood as a vital center of political life and the important role that movie stars have played in shaping the course of American politics. Ever since the film industry relocated to Hollywood early in the twentieth century, it has had an outsized influence on American politics. Through compelling larger-than-life figures in American cinema--Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Edward G. Robinson, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Charlton Heston, Warren Beatty, and Arnold Schwarzenegger--Hollywood Left and Right reveals how the film industry's engagement in politics has been longer, deeper, and more varied than most people would imagine. As shown in alternating chapters, the Left and the Right each gained ascendancy in Tinseltown at different times. From Chaplin, whose movies almost always displayed his leftist convictions, to Schwarzenegger's nearly seamless transition from action blockbusters to the California governor's mansion, Steven J. Ross traces the intersection of Hollywood and political activism from the early twentieth century to the present. Hollywood Left and Right challenges the commonly held belief that Hollywood has always been a bastion of liberalism. The real story, as Ross shows in this passionate and entertaining work, is far more complicated. First, Hollywood has a longer history of conservatism than liberalism. Second, and most surprising, while the Hollywood Left was usually more vocal and visible, the Right had a greater impact on American political life, capturing a senate seat (Murphy), a governorship (Schwarzenegger), and the ultimate achievement, the Presidency (Reagan).