Film History 4


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This presentation was designed for a high school film production class - it provides a visual accompaniment to a lecture on Film History. This module covers the period from the introduction of color through the end of the studio system and the impact of television.

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Film History 4

  1. 1. Film History Lecture prepared 11/28/09 by John M. Grace I.A.T.S.E. member and film instructor D.A.T.A. Charter High School Albuquerque, New Mexico Some material taken from
  2. 2. Film History Famous film quote: “ Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. ” In 1939, with these words, Rhett Butler snubbed Scarlett O’Hara and fanned the firestorm of controversy over morality and film censorship
  3. 3. Film History <ul><li>HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS </li></ul><ul><li>During Hollywood’s “golden age,” along with huge profits came many excesses. Tabloid newspapers tried to outdo each other by reporting - and to some extent making up - stories about the extravagant lifestyles of producers, directors, and actors. In the minds of many, Hollywood was indeed &quot;sin city.&quot; </li></ul>
  4. 4. Film History <ul><li>HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS </li></ul><ul><li>This image was confirmed in the 1920s, when Hollywood confronted two major scandals. </li></ul><ul><li>One involved a marathon party in San Francisco hosted by comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. As the party was ending, model Virginia Rappe was rushed to the hospital with stomach pains. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Film History <ul><li>HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS </li></ul><ul><li>Rappe subsequently died, and Arbuckle was initially charged with rape resulting in death. Her cause of death was determined to be peritonitis from a ruptured bladder. </li></ul><ul><li>What led up to the death was in dispute, and after three trials - two ending with hung juries - Arbuckle was acquitted. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Film History <ul><li>HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS </li></ul><ul><li>Even though he was acquitted of any crimes and had the support of many Hollywood friends, the public wasn’t as forgiving and Arbuckle never made another feature film. </li></ul><ul><li>He died in 1933 of a heart attack at the age of 46. But before he died, Arbuckle was implicated in another Hollywood death. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Film History <ul><li>HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS </li></ul><ul><li>Then, film director William Taylor was found murdered and Mabel Normand, a close friend of Arbuckle's, was accused of the crime. Even though Normand was acquitted, rumors abounded that drugs were involved. The tabloids had a field day and the Catholic Legion of Decency called for a film boycott . </li></ul>
  8. 8. Film History <ul><li>HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS </li></ul><ul><li>Fearing public backlash against movies and the likelihood of government censorship, the studio heads acted quickly to adopt a form of self-regulation. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1922 Will Hayes, a staunch conservative and former Republican Party Chairman, was appointed to head the new Motion Picture Producers Association (MPPA). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Film History <ul><li>THE HAYES CODE </li></ul><ul><li>One of the first things Hayes did was to ban all of Arbuckle's films - notwithstanding the fact that the actor had been found innocent. </li></ul><ul><li>His Production Code (called the Hayes Code) was issued in 1930. To be acceptable, films had to show the Production Code Administration (PCA) seal of approval. </li></ul>BANNED
  10. 10. Film History <ul><li>THE HAYES CODE </li></ul><ul><li>The code was so strict that many of today's G-rated movies would have been rejected. </li></ul><ul><li>Hayes issued more than 28,000 rulings including lists of forbidden words. Screen kisses were reduced from a maximum of 4 seconds to no more than 1 1 / 2 seconds. The Hays Code even went so far as to ban scenes showing people milking cows. </li></ul>BANNED
  11. 11. Film History <ul><li>THE DEPRESSION ERA </li></ul><ul><li>After the stock market crash of 1929, the bottom fell out of financial markets in the United States and film revenues sank. </li></ul><ul><li>Even though the studios were overextended financially, Hollywood was spared major economic damage because the arrival of sound helped boost the popularity of films. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Film History <ul><li>THE DEPRESSION ERA </li></ul><ul><li>Moviegoers anxious to escape the gloom of the depression regularly sought refuge in the fantasy life up on the silver screen. To lure patrons during these times, many theaters started showing double features and even drastically cut admission prices. Some theaters even featured bingo games. Even so, something more was needed. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Film History <ul><li>THE DEPRESSION ERA </li></ul><ul><li>To keep the studios afloat during the depression, studios started featuring risqué story lines. In a contest between money and morals, money won and much of the Hayes Code was ignored. </li></ul><ul><li>Without the added revenues from risqué content, Hollywood wouldn't have survived the depression. You could say that sex saved Hollywood. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Film History <ul><li>SEX SAVES HOLLYWOOD </li></ul><ul><li>One of the more outspoken actresses of the day was the voluptuous Mae West. Her most provocative line, delivered to Cary Grant was, &quot;Why don't you come up and see me sometime?” </li></ul><ul><li>Hayes and conservative audience members were aghast that such a suggestion would be spoken aloud. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Film History <ul><li>THE SOUND and COLOR ERA </li></ul><ul><li>During the depression, the only successful new studio was opened by Walt Disney. In 1928, Disney released Steamboat Willie , the first animated sound cartoon. Disney, who was only 26 years old, had to sell his car to finish the cartoon. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1932, color film technology was introduced with another Disney short film, Flowers and Trees . </li></ul>
  16. 16. Film History <ul><li>THE SOUND and COLOR ERA </li></ul><ul><li>A few years later, Disney created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , the first feature-length animated film, at a cost of $2.25 million - more than the cost of most extravaganzas. </li></ul><ul><li>This film not only established the Disney company (now one of the largest media conglomerates in the world), but also introduced the animated film genre. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Film History <ul><li>FILM GENRES </li></ul><ul><li>By 1930, 95% of Hollywood films were &quot;talkies&quot;. It took a while, but films adjusted to the extra demands of sound and production values returned to a high quality. </li></ul><ul><li>At this point, a new genre of film was born, the musical, and the formerly popular genre of slapstick almost vanished. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Film History <ul><li>FILM GENRES </li></ul><ul><li>During the 1930s, the genres of romantic comedy and gangster films became popular. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1938, the genres of suspense and mystery took a major step forward with the films of Alfred Hitchcock, a British director best known for the film Psycho featuring history’s most famous shower scene. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Film History <ul><li>FILM CLASSICS </li></ul><ul><li>In 1939, one of the biggest hits of all time was produced by David O. Selznick, Gone With the Wind . This civil war epic marked the first time color was lavishly & expertly used. </li></ul><ul><li>More than 50 years later, CBS paid $25 million for TV broadcast rights disproving the notion that old films have a hard time holding the interest of modern audiences. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Film History <ul><li>FILM CLASSICS </li></ul><ul><li>Gone With the Wind is historically significant for many reasons, for one, the kiss (a violation of the Hayes Code), and the memorable and controversial line &quot;Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Cursing was forbidden in films, but this line was the decisive indication that Rhett Butler had finally given up on Scarlett O'Hara. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Film History <ul><li>FILM CLASSICS </li></ul><ul><li>Two years later, Orson Welles released Citizen Kane - considered the most notable U.S. film ever in terms of content and innovations. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the film was not a box office success even though it introduced innovations that went on to influence filmmaking for decades to come. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Film History <ul><li>FILM CLASSICS </li></ul><ul><li>In the 1934 film, It Happened One Night , Clark Gable took off his shirt to reveal that he wasn't wearing an undershirt even though wearing undershirts was simply a given for men at that time. </li></ul><ul><li>Suddenly men decided undershirts weren’t necessary - and that was the end of the undershirt business. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Film History <ul><li>END of the STUDIO SYSTEM </li></ul><ul><li>In 1938, The U.S. Supreme Court decided that the major film studios represented a monopoly, and a major antitrust action was initiated. </li></ul><ul><li>Two years later the studios agreed to stop buying theaters, eliminate blind booking (requiring theaters to rent films without seeing them first) and limit block booking to five films. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Film History <ul><li>END of the STUDIO SYSTEM </li></ul><ul><li>Four years later the major studios still held control over the motion picture industry - especially when it came to the first-run exhibition of films in major cities. </li></ul><ul><li>Antitrust action was launched again and this time the five majors were forced to divest themselves of all company owned theaters. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Film History <ul><li>END of the STUDIO SYSTEM </li></ul><ul><li>But another problem resulted. Without the previous level of control and profit guarantees, big banks were reluctant to finance films. </li></ul><ul><li>The studios finally decided to leave the production of films (and much of the financial risk) primarily to outside producers - independent of the big five studios. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Film History <ul><li>END of the STUDIO SYSTEM </li></ul><ul><li>The antitrust action ushered in the beginning of an era in which production companies were created for a particular film and then dissolved afterwards. </li></ul><ul><li>Now, stars and directors are no longer under long-term contracts. Actors and crew members are hired specifically for each film. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Film History <ul><li>END of the STUDIO SYSTEM </li></ul><ul><li>Although the studio system was efficient at turning out films, most people agree that our present system encourages a level of competition essential to maintaining Hollywood's leadership in filmmaking. </li></ul><ul><li>Today, the major studios usually make fewer than 20 films a year and the rest are made by independents. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Film History <ul><li>The THREAT of TELEVISION </li></ul><ul><li>The impact of television on the film industry during the 40s and 50s is shown in the graph on the right. </li></ul><ul><li>Even though the U.S. population continued to grow, film revenues dropped dramatically, until it bottomed out in the 60s and 70s. TV was now the country's primary source for family entertainment. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Film History <ul><li>The THREAT of TELEVISION </li></ul><ul><li>Many film studios put short-sided clauses into actors' contracts forbidding them to appear on TV - even to promote their own films. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the studios soon found that instead of being the enemy, television represented an important new market for their films - one that would be essential to their survival. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Film History <ul><li>The THREAT of TELEVISION </li></ul><ul><li>Once they realized this, studios abandoned their expensive star system, limited their promotional budgets and targeted audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>They started making films aimed at educated and affluent audiences and especially people under 30 who soon became their largest audience, accounting for 75% of ticket sales. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Film History <ul><li>The THREAT of TELEVISION </li></ul><ul><li>These new audiences, although much smaller, demanded more in the way of meaningful content and sophisticated production techniques. </li></ul><ul><li>Simplistic, low-budget, formulaic plots, common in Hollywood's “Golden Era” were not popular with younger, more sophisticated audiences. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Film History <ul><li>The THREAT of TELEVISION </li></ul><ul><li>With the arrival of TV, Hollywood found a new, seemingly insatiable market for their old films. During the early days of TV they dug out old black and white films and sold them to TV. </li></ul><ul><li>When color TV arrived, the studios again went into their vaults to offer a selection of color films. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Film History <ul><li>The THREAT of TELEVISION </li></ul><ul><li>In the 1950’s while the studios were again facing a financial crisis, they fought back by trying: </li></ul><ul><li>* 3D (Stereovision) </li></ul><ul><li>* Wide screens </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cinerama </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cinemascope </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>* Stereophonic sound </li></ul><ul><li>* Violent and risqué subjects </li></ul>
  34. 34. Film History <ul><li>The STATE of FILMS TODAY </li></ul><ul><li>Today, most Hollywood films don't begin to make a profit until they move to TV, videocassettes, DVD, premium and pay TV, and foreign distribution. </li></ul><ul><li>Note in this graph that only about 25% of profits come from ticket sales and the rest comes from TV and foreign sales. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Film History <ul><li>The STATE of FILMS TODAY </li></ul><ul><li>Today, the major studios are owned by large conglomerates that focus almost entirely on profits. The success or failure of films tends to be based on profits from the first week. </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of U.S. film studios are now foreign owned - a larger percentage than in any of the other mass media. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Film History <ul><li>The STATE of FILMS TODAY </li></ul><ul><li>The guarantee of profits is the main reason gratuitous violence and bloody horror films continue to be produced on a wide scale - even in the face of public disapproval and studies that show that the effects of viewing violence are harmful to both individuals and society. Sexual content also remains directly related to box office success. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Film History <ul><li>The STATE of FILMS TODAY </li></ul><ul><li>On the average, only one in every six films produced results in profit. However, the major hits take in much more then their production cost and end up paying for films that are less successful. </li></ul><ul><li>The average cost of producing a film today is well over $40-million though there are notable exceptions. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Film History <ul><li>The STATE of FILMS TODAY </li></ul><ul><li>American movies, TV programs, and software constitute the largest avenue of export for the United States. One-third of film profits come from foreign distribution. </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s independent producers seek to escape the limitations of corporate control and explore controversial ideas that are not (yet) accepted by popular audiences. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Film History <ul><li>The STATE of FILMS TODAY </li></ul><ul><li>Even with the limitations imposed by the large film studios, films have always shaped public attitudes in a variety of ways. Disney films have communicated positive moral values to young people for decades. </li></ul><ul><li>Thought-provoking movies and films where the hero takes on mega corporations inspire us to take moral stands in our own lives. </li></ul>