George Gallup In Hollywood

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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.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Public Opinion Quarterly - Frank Louis Rusciano
A fascinating and exciting book.
Business History Review - Sarah E. Igo
An extremely valuable portrait of the shifting field in which Hollywood operated in the 1940s and an excellent study of t he ambivalent relationship between... moviemaking and marketing.
Film Quarterly - Anne Morey
Ohmer's book is a major achievement, and it will be a significant reference.
Cercles - Nolwenn Mingant
An innovative and fascinating study about the construction of discourse, power and control in the field of mass culture.
Public Opinion Quarterly
A fascinating and exciting book.

— Frank Louis Rusciano

Business History Review
An extremely valuable portrait of the shifting field in which Hollywood operated in the 1940s and an excellent study of t he ambivalent relationship between... moviemaking and marketing.

— Sarah E. Igo

Film Quarterly
Ohmer's book is a major achievement, and it will be a significant reference.

— Anne Morey

An innovative and fascinating study about the construction of discourse, power and control in the field of mass culture.

— Nolwenn Mingant

Library Journal
The concept of gearing films toward targeted audiences is not new. As early as the 1930s, Hollywood studio moguls enlisted the aid of George Gallup, of Gallup Poll fame, to help in that effort. Ohmer (modern communication, Univ. of Notre Dame) has produced a well-detailed account of this obscure chapter in cinema history. As she tells it, Gallup began to believe that moviemakers were out of touch with the public and offered them his services. His major influence came with a series of pilot studies conducted during the extended publicity surrounding the production of Gone with the Wind. Further polling for studio heads like Sam Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck, and Walt Disney covered such issues as the desirability of double features, the viability of films being considered for production, and opinions about current movie stars. One result of this data gathering was Gallup's realization of the importance of teenage moviegoers. This useful addition to the recent spate of literature about Hollywood's endless quest of the bottom line is recommended for larger cinema collections.-Roy Liebman, Los Angeles P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231121323
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Series: Film and Culture Series
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 0.81 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Ohmer is the William T. and Helen Kuhn Carey Assistant Professor of Modern Communication in the Department of Film, Television, and Theater at the University of Notre Dame. She has published articles and essays in Film History, The Journal of Film and Video, and Global Currents: Media and Technology, among other publications.

Columbia University Press

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2010

    Like reading a phd dissertation

    well researched--footnote citation numbers on EVERY page. But it's very dry and NOT very exciting or inspirational. It's very dry and reads like a graduate project. Someone writing a thesis or dissertation on the subject. It's great if I am reading for my own research purposes, but the book is not lively AT ALL and is sort of BORING, despite its interesting topic. It was a birthday present bought with a gift card; I should have picked my second choice--it would have been more fun to read.
    This book is sort of interesting, but it is so dry that it is not very much fun to read. Too bad.

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