1) The Classic Hollywood Studio System, from early 1900s to about 1950, completely controlled film production, the actors and the film distribution to the theaters. This system dominated the economy, the culture and the actors. It controlled actors’ lives both personally and professionally, as they were recruited, signed to a multi-year contract and groomed to fulfil their potential whether it be acting, singing, dancing or a combination of all. From silent to talkies to technicolor, movies captivated the audience as it swept them away from their ordinary lives, from the desperation of the Depression to supporting a World War, movies always offered an entertaining refuge. Control of film distribution was twofold, first, supply was controlled through “block booking” meaning a block of movies were sold to the theaters containing both A and B rated films, and second, the major studios owned their own theaters allowing full control (Briley, 2012). With the end of World War II and major profits, the studios faced financial difficulties such as actors and producers demanding a percentage of the profits, the Congressional investigations leading to blacklisting and the dissolution of studio ownership of theaters.
2) The Pre-Code era ostensibly started in 1930 however, the sensual and violent exploits continued in film until about 1934. The focus of movie tycoons was financial motivation in the industry and pushing the boundaries of sexuality, violence and cultural immoralities were successful. Several real-life scandals involving movie stars of the day instigated the appeal for regulations (Doherty, 1999) and after several years of further sensationalism in movies dictated the enforcement of the “code”. The code erred too far on the side of morality, and did not justify that much excessive censorship.
3) The movie The Best Years of Our Lives accurately depicted the various circumstances facing returning World War II veterans. Each came from a different social background, Al was older, financially stable with wife and grown children; Fred, young, brash and quickly married to someone he knew very little; and Homer, sensitive, unworldly and engaged to his childhood sweetheart. They returned from war changed and each faced a different crisis in his life; thus as it was in real life no person would return from war unchanged. Also, the home they returned to had changed socially and economically, such as women working in factories and becoming more independent. The inspiration in the film is that each one had to face the reality of their situation, to cope, to persevere and to find resolution.
4) Film Noir is an evocative genre, and so many films convey it’s characteristics, the haunting journey, underlying violence, simmering sexuality, compromised morals as well as showing the dark side of streets, people and lives. Some of these films are: The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, The Maltese Falcon and Dark Passage.
5) In Separate but Equal, the struggle, like the title, is an oxymoron; it is not equal. It is indeed a case of having to overcome enormous bias and bigotry that has been the standard for decades. Thurgood Marshall has lived this bias (Delon, 1994) whereas Earl Warren is placed in a position where he must face the bias, and both work with diligence and fortitude to finally overcome the injustice and inequality of the premise in Separate but Equal.
6) One of the enduring qualities of a classic film is the clarity of the characters portrayal whether good or bad, and the interplay between them that so clearly defines the character. Such as the scene in Out of the Past Jeff reveals Kathie’s changeable and duplicitous personality in one concise line, “You’re like the leaf that the wind blows from one gutter to another.” Or in Casablanca Rick acknowledges Ilsa’s moral and honorable character when he says, “If that plane leaves the ground and you’re not with him you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.”
7) The honor of the Hollywood Ten cannot be underestimated or disputed. Contrary to their belief in political freedom, this case illustrates that political views are tolerated as long as they align with the current views of people in power; so by refusing to name others involved their political group some received a six-month prison sentence (Georgakas, 1996). The persecution began just after World War II and continued for more than a decade, affecting lives as well as the creative production of Hollywood’s movies for many years.
8) A well crafted paper on film and movies demands more than just viewing the film. Proper research must involve information on the script, the basis of story (e.g. is it a novel, a historical event or a true life story) the creative parties involved (director, writers and actors), as well as the type of movie, as each part contributes to the whole.
- Briley, R. (2012). The genius of the system: Hollywood filmmaking in the studio era.
Film & History, 42(1), 52-55. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/
- Doherty, T. P. (1999). Pre-code Hollywood: Sex, immorality, and insurrection in American cinema, 1930-1934. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Georgakas, D. (1996, Odd man out: A memoir of the hollywood ten. Cineaste, 22, 58. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/204831274?accountid=16574
- Delon, F. G. (1994). The legacy of thurgood marshall. The Journal of Negro Education, 63(3), 278. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/222060281?accountid=16574
- Tourneur, J. (Director), Duff, W. (Producer), & Homes, G. (Writer). (1947). Out of the Past [Motion picture]. United States: RKO. https://www.youtube.com/watchv=
- Curtis, M. (Director), Epstein J.J. & P.G (Writers) Casablanca [Motion picture]. (1942). Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEWaqUVac3M