Wednesday, May 5, 2021

THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD

Beginning a new series . . .


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Did anyone watch the Oscars? Did anyone apart from myself feel that the Oscars have become a non-event? There are a number of reasons for this, if what I am feeling is correct:
- changes to the nomination procedures;
- films made by distributors such as Netflix;
- more people watching on subscription;
- COVID-19 effects

There is less hype and less interest now, I feel, reflected in the lowest number of persons watching in the recent history of the Academy Awards.

What are your thoughts?

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Some facts and trivia about the Golden Years of Hollywood . . .

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The Golden Age of Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the period of classical Hollywood cinema, started with the silent movie era and the first major feature-length silent movie called the 'Birth of a Nation' (1915). The Golden Age of Hollywood ended with the demise of the studio system, the emergence of television, the rising costs and subsequent losses notably 'Cleopatra' (1963).

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Milestones of the Golden Age of Hollywood:

The Golden Age of Hollywood witnessed important milestones in the history of the movie industry such as:
  • the establishment of Hollywood as the American home of movies;
  • the establishment of the Studio System;
  • the first color movie;
  • the first talking movie;
  • the Oscars;
  • animated cartoon movies;
  • the liberal movies of the 1920s and early 1930s;
  • the rise of movie idols;
  • the scandals that involved famous actors and actresses that rocked America;
  • important events during the Golden Age of Hollywood that moved on to the regulations and censorship imposed by the Hays Code in movies such as 'Gone with the Wind' and 'The Maltese Falcon' and even the 'Betty Boop' series of cartoons;
  • the fabulous musicals produced by the studios;
  • the escapism that Hollywood movies offered during hard times.
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The American movie industry was centred in Hollywood, Los Angeles in California. The climate and location of Hollywood was ideal place for outdoor filming and, by the 1920s, 85% of American movie production was made in or around Hollywood.

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The Hollywood Sign overlooks Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. It is situated on Mount Lee, in the Hollywood Hills area of the Santa Monica Mountains and is 13.7m / 45 ft tall. It was originally created in 1923 as a temporary advertisement for a local real estate development, Hollywoodland, but due to increasing recognition, the sign was left up. When it was decided that the sign would be a permanent fixture in LA, the "land" at the end was was dropped to make the sign cheaper to maintain.

1924

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The Golden Age of Hollywood began when the first major feature-length silent movie, The Birth of a Nation, was made in 1915. The movie was based on the novel 'The Clansman' by Thomas Dixon and was directed by D. W. Griffith who co-wrote the screenplay. The feature-length silent movie lasted for 133 minutes and made massive profits of $10,000,000. The movie caused huge controversy in glorifying the original Ku Klux Klan which resulted in the rebirth of the 1920 KKK and brought protests by the NAACP with riots in Boston and Philadelphia.

The film, about the Civil War and Reconstruction, depicted the Ku Klux Klan as valiant saviours of a post-war South ravaged by Northern carpetbaggers and freed Black people. The Birth of a Nation’s racially charged Jim Crow narrative, coupled with America’s heightened anti-immigrant climate, led the Klan to align itself with the movie’s success and use it as a recruiting tool. President Wilson reportedly said of the film, “It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”

“People were taken to another planet,” says Dick Lehr, author of The Birth of a Nation: How a Legendary Filmmaker and Crusading Editor Reignited America’s Civil War. “The galloping Klan riding to the rescue. The pure spectacle of it all,” says Lehr, romanticized the KKK. The film bolstered the idea that the Klan was there to save the South from savage Black men raping white women, a racist myth that would be propagated for years, Lehr adds.

On opening night, Klansmen dressed in white sheets and Confederate uniforms paraded down Peachtree Street with hooded horses, firing rifle salutes in front of the theatre. The effect was powerful and screenings in more cities echoed the display, including movie ushers donning white sheets. Klansmen also handed out KKK literature before and after screenings.

As the film continued to be screened and re-screened well into the 1920s, Lehr says more Klan chapters formed and membership reportedly reached into the millions. New Klansmen were shown The Birth of Nation and the film continued to be a recruiting tool for decades to come.

Gallery:






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The 'Big Five' studios were MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO and Fox. Universal, Columbia Pictures, and United Artists were Known as the "Little Three" studios that, unlike the "Big Five", did not own their own theatre chains.

By the way:

United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American digital production company. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was repeatedly bought, sold, and restructured over the ensuing century. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million ($1 billion today).

United Artists was revived in 2018 as United Artists Digital Studios. Mirror, the joint distribution venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures, was renamed as United Artists Releasing in early February 2019 just in time for UA's 100th anniversary.

D W Griffith, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin (seated), and Douglas Fairbanks at the signing of the contract establishing the United Artists motion-picture studio in 1919. Lawyers Albert Banzhaf (left) and Dennis F. O'Brien (right) stand in the background.

Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith in 1919

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The studio system evolved in Hollywood and was essentially about long-term contracts for movie stars, that prevented them being poached by rival studios. The films were made on lots owned by the studios and were released in theatres owned by them.

The studio system was challenged under the antitrust laws in a 1948 Supreme Court ruling which sought to separate production from the distribution and exhibition and ended such practices, thereby hastening the end of the studio system. By 1954, with television competing for audience and the last of the operational links between a major production studio and theater chain broken, the historic era of the studio system was over.

Some regard the Golden Years of Hollywood as being the period stretching from the introduction of sound to the beginning of the demise of the studio system, 1927–1948.

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