The Studio System / Edition 1

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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.

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813521312
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Series: Rutgers Depth of Field Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 6.01 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Notes on Columbia Pictures Corporation 1926-41 17
How Howard Hawks Brought Baby Up: An Apologia for the Studio System 39
My Name Is Joseph H. Lewis 50
"A Triumph of Bitchery": Warner Bros., Bette Davis, and Jezebel 74
Deep-Focus Cinematography 93
William Fox Presents Sunrise 127
Narrative Authority and Social Narrativity: The Cinematic Reconstitution of Bronte's Jane Eyre 140
The Tarzan Films: An Analysis of Determinants of Maintenance and Change in Conventions 163
Women in the Early Film Industry 187
Standards and Practices: Aesthetic Norm and Technological Innovation in the American Cinema 200
Crime Pays: The Studios' Labor Deals in the 1930s 226
"Baby Face" or How Joe Breen Made Barbara Stanwyck Atone for Causing the Wall Street Crash 251
What to Show the World: The Office of War Information and Hollywood, 1942-1945 279
Teenagers and Teenpics, 1955-1957: A Study of Exploitation Filmmaking 298
Annotated Bibliography 317
Contributors 321
Index 323
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