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The Hollywood Studio System 1930-1949, part 2 Lecture 19.

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1 The Hollywood Studio System 1930-1949, part 2 Lecture 19

2 Studio System: Historical Outline b/t 1900-1925: 64 studios After 1930: 8 studios, collecting 95% of revenues – “Big Five” Paramount (Adolph Zukor), formerly Famous-Players-Lasky Loew’s MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) Twentieth Century Fox Warner Brothers Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO)—25% smaller – “Little Three Universal (only production and distribution) Columbia (only production and distribution) United Artists (distribution for independents)

3 V ERTICAL I NTEGRATION, EARLY YEARS Begins with Adolph Zukor of Famous-Players- Lasky (later Paramount) – Fallout from the MPPC 3-part strategy: – 1) Differentiate Product “the star” and “contractual servitude” – 2) Distribute nationally and internationally – 3) Dominate exhibition through first-run theaters

4 V ERTICAL I NTEGRATION, CONT. By 1920, studio system faces three obstacles: A)Government litigation B)International Distribution C)Threat of labor unrest

5 V ERTICAL I NTEGRATION, CONT. Solutions: – Self-Regulation Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) established in 1922 with Will Hays as president – Prevent strict enforcement of anti-trust laws – Regulate movie content » “Hays Code” 1934-1968 – Worked with Federal government to get films into foreign markets Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1927)

6 Vertical Integration FDR’s National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) went into effect in 1933 – Sanctioned collusion – Allowed for collective bargaining

7 H OW DID THE STUDIOS MAXIMIZE PROFITS ? Theater ownership – Block booking Practice of forcing exhibitors to take a studios entire annual production – Blind bidding Practice of forcing exhibitors to take films sight unseen Price discrimination – Price depended on the “run” Run-zone-clearance system – First “run”: first time shown

8 D EMISE OF THE S TUDIO S YSTEM U.S. vs. Paramount case and the Paramount decree of 1948 Rise of television Suburbanization and baby boom

9 Screwball Comedy Cycle (mid-1930s-early 1940s) Gained prominence with It happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934) Slapstick, wisecracks, comedy of manners, sexual innuendo Ridiculous situations Fast-paced repartee Mistaken identities Preston Sturges: – The Great McGinty (1939) – Christmas in July (1940) – The Lady Eve (1941)

10 The Social Problem Film (30s, 40s, 50s) Dramatizes topical social issues like prison life, capital punishment, poverty, capital punishment Conflict centers around the relation between an individual and social institutions Reflected left-liberal political views in line with FDR’s New Deal Populism (“men of good will) Conflict b/t the forces of good and evil Traditional form – Linear narratives – Characters to identify with – Happy ending Frank Capra: – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – Meet John Doe (1941)

11 The Social Problem Film (cont.) Roffman and Purdy (1981): – “[Social problem films] arouse indignation over some facet of contemporary life, carefully qualifying any criticism so that it can in the end be reduced to simple causes, to a villain whose removal rectified the situation. Allusions to the genuine concerns of the audience play up antisocial feelings only to exorcise them on safe targets contained within a dramatic rather than a social context.”

12 Meet John Doe (Frank Capra, 1941)

13 How would you categorize Sullivan’s Travels generically? Screwball comedy or social problem film or…?

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