The Studio System

The Studio System

by Janet Staiger
     
 

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It is all of the workers at the studio—not the director, not the producer—that make Hollywood’s movies.  The essays in The Studio System offer a detailed sense of what it is like to work in Hollywood amid the complexities and conflicting demands involved in moviemaking.  The essays demonstrate that the standards of effective

Overview

It is all of the workers at the studio—not the director, not the producer—that make Hollywood’s movies.  The essays in The Studio System offer a detailed sense of what it is like to work in Hollywood amid the complexities and conflicting demands involved in moviemaking.  The essays demonstrate that the standards of effective storytelling do not always synchronize with notions of beauty or the value of the spectacle; that the production processes which encourage individuality and creativity from each worker also require compromise in maintaining a cooperative working group; and that production needs and budgets often demand an alteration of the product standards held by the movie industry’s craftspeople.  The theories and methods found within The Studio System, from functionalist to conflict sociologies, from quantitative to qualitative methods, invite the critical eye to focus on their practical consequences.  This social investigation of Hollywood brings to light the ways in which the formulas, innovations, and economic structure of the film industry affect the day-to-day lives of its workers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite occasional, unfortunate lapses into academic jargon, this collection of 14 essays-most reprinted from film criticism journals-offers some intriguing takes on the development of Hollywood's studio system. Rather than the commonly held ``assembly line'' metaphor used to describe the production process of mainstream Hollywood movies, these essays argue that many innovations occurred precisely because of studio constraints-or even, as Robert C. Allen argues in his informative essay, ``William Fox Presents Sunrise,'' because of calculated moves on the part of the studio. Denise Hartsough's essay on how the studio paid off a Chicago organized-crime syndicate to quell film-industry labor unions should garner-rightfully-the majority of the attention, though Jeffrey Sconce's examination of the development of the film adaptation of Jane Eyre is illuminating as well. Most of these essays concentrate on the major studios of the '20s, '30s and '40s and were written in the 1980s. One wonders what more recent works on the contemporary studio system have had to say in light of the increasing corporate nature of the large studios coupled with the burgeoning American independent film movement. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This collection of previously published essays and journal articles was gathered to illustrate the premise that the conflicts, large or small, that studio employees feel are an intrinsic part of film production whose influence should be noted. These conflicts arise between the individual seeking creative expression and other members of the cast and crew, since filmmaking is a group effort; between individuals asserting the standards of their varying crafts; and because production costs can limit the aspirations of craftspeople. Staiger (radio, television, and film; Univ. of Texas) calls the essays "case studies," whether they cover the Office of War Information's effect on World War II Hollywood movie content, the creation of the "teenpic," how Bette Davis got to play the lead in Jezebel, or the studios' dealings with a Mafia-backed labor union in the 1930s. Staiger's choice of essays does effectively argue her thesis, but their range will limit the book's appeal to mostly film students. For academic collections.-Marianne Cawley, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813521305
Publisher:
Rutgers University Press
Publication date:
02/01/1995
Series:
Rutgers Depth of Field Series
Pages:
354
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

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