The Golden Age of Cinema: Hollywood, 1929-1945 / Edition 1

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This comprehensive book illuminates the most fertile and exciting period in American film, a time when the studio system was at its peak and movies played a critical role in elevating the spirits of the public. Richard B. Jewell offers a highly readable yet deeply informed account of the economics, technology, censorship, style, genres, stars and history of Hollywood during its "classical" era.

  • A major introductory textbook covering what is arguably the most fertile and exciting period in film, 1929-1945
  • Analyzes many of the seminal films from the period, from The Wizard of Oz to Grand Hotel to Gone with the Wind, considering the impact they had then and still have today
  • Tackles the shaping forces of the period: the business practices of the industry, technological developments, censorship restraints, narrative strategies, evolution of genres, and the stars and the star system
  • Explores the major social, political, economic, and cultural events that helped to shape contemporary commercial cinema, as well as other leisure activities that influenced Hollywood production, including radio, vaudeville, theatre and fiction
  • Written in a jargon-free, lively style, and features a number of illustrations throughout the text
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rick Jewell has been teaching a course on classical Hollywood moviemaking at USC for some years but has never found a textbook that suited his needs. As a result he has written one, and it’s excellent. Jewell has taken on the daunting task of surveying the social history of the period, the business side of Hollywood , changes and advancement in technology, censorship, narrative and style, genres, and the star system. Whew! I can’t imagine a better introduction to this subject matter. The book is scrupulously well organized and uses specific examples whenever possible instead of dealing in generalities." Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy (

“Some believe that American film peaked between the Stock Market Crash and the end of World War II. Richard B. Jewell’s The Golden Age of Cinema sharply delineates how the film industry worked during the period, casting light on the movies as business, technology, social document, and popular art.”
Charles J. Maland, University of Tennessee

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405163729
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/11/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.21 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard B. Jewell is the Hugh M. Hefner Professor of American Film at the University of Southern California. He is the author of The RKO Story (1982).

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Table of Contents

Title Page.

Table of Contents.

Figures and Captions.




1. Major Historical Events.

1.1. Economic Situation.

1.2. Societal Issues.

1.3. Hollywood Responds to the Crises.

1.4. Other Leisure Activities.

2. Film Business.

2.1. The Studios.

2.2. Production.

2.3. Distribution.

2.4. Exhibition.

3. Technology.

3.1. The Sound Revolution.

3.2. Color Film Production.

3.3. Wide-Screen Experiments of 1929-1931.

3.4. Special Effects.

4. Censorship.

4.1. Silent Era Background.

4.2. The Production Code.

4.3. “Pre-Code” Hollywood.

4.4. The Production Code Administration.

4.5. “Exploitation” Films and Foreign Imports.

4.6. Politics and the PCA.

4.7. The Outlaw.

4.8. The Office of War Information Bureau of Motion Pictures.

4.9. The PCA During the War.

5. Narrative and Style.

5.1. Narrative Strategies.

5.2. Stylistic Techniques.

5.3. Narrative in Stagecoach.

5.4. Style in Stagecoach.

5.5. A Note on “Studio” Style.

5.6. A Note on Genre Style.

5.7. A Note on Film Noir.

5.8. A Note on Directorial Style.

6. Genres.

6.1. The Western.

6.2. The Gangster Film.

6.3. The Adventure Film.

6.4. The Horror Film.

6.5. The Detective Film.

6.6. The War Film.

6.7. Comedy.

6.8. The Musical.

6.9. The Woman’s Film.

6.10. Other Genres.

7. Stars and the Star System.

7.1. The Star as Business Commodity.

7.2. The Multiplicity of Stars.

7.3. The Star as Actor.

7.4. The Most Popular Stars.

8. Conclusion.


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