Hollywood: The story of the first great era of American movies from the 1890s to 1970 is filled with conflict and creativity.
Hollywood from 1890s to 1970
The creation of an image Empire founded by a driven generation of entrepreneurs and populated by a larger-than-life cast of big-screen personalities and visual storytellers a narrative-driven by Hollywood power struggles and memorialized with great movies. The heart of our story traces the rise and fall of the men known as the moguls of Hollywood and the factories they built to manufacture dreams and reimagine America. On film intermingling the power of technology politics high finance and art decade by decade. The history of Hollywood is also the history of the American experience in a United States only beginning to take its place on the world stage.
The 1880s and 90s were a time of economic growth invention and waves of immigration lower-class audiences and new arrivals found cheap amusement in motion pictures and an ambitious generation of immigrant entrepreneurs. Took a nickel and dimed business and began to build an entertainment empire during the first decades of the 20th century.
The movies learned to tell stories in a powerful new way and Hollywood emerged as a center of motion picture production. The 1920s was a tumultuous decade. The energy and art of the movies was at the heart of it the founding generation of movie entrepreneurs became the moguls of Hollywood.
Self-sufficient Studios dream in 1930s
They built self-sufficient Studios dream factories they were called and movie stars personified an unprecedented era of celebrity and international fame with the coming of the 1930s. The movie business was totally transformed by the arrival of sound and an economic depression gripped the world moguls and movie stars responded with an on-screen world that provided escape and entertainment by 1939. Hollywood was at a peak of art and profitability but the beginning of the 1940s didn’t promise a happy ending. World War two engulfed the world and Hollywood joined. The fight offering inspiration and entertainment. The movies presented a vision of a victorious America and the vision came true despite the triumphs of the United States and movie making in Hollywood.
The 1950s were trying times since the 20s. The reign of the Hollywood moguls was unchallenged but audiences were impatient and on the move. They demanded new stars new storylines at the same time the mogul’s entertainment monopolies were under attack and television. Threatened to keep movie audiences at home. The 1960s shook America and Hollywood for moguls and movie stars it was both a fade-out and a fade in piece by piece. The great studio empires were picked apart and the generation of the founding moguls passed from the scene.
First great era of moviemaking
The first great era of moviemaking was over but a new Hollywood was being born more outspoken far-reaching and influential. Than ever from the first flickering images of the 1880s. It was a story as dramatic unexpected and involving as the grandest. Hollywood epic nearly a century of remarkable men women movies and American history long before. There were moguls and movie stars before there was Hollywood. There was a dream to capture movement to create an illusion of life and turn it into stories. Some of the first to play with light and shadow on a screen were a scientists and inventors explorers on the edges of new technology in 1659. A Dutch scientist named Christian Huygens invented.
The Magic Lantern like the movies to come Huygens picture shows were associated with imagination and mystery. The forerunner of the horror movie was projected in Paris in the 1790s. It was called the phantasmagoria and this was truly an extraordinary show. He had to go down these winding stairs and bones and flickering stuff and just a dozen people maybe in a little room suddenly the lights go out and then. There’s this Rumble and noise and sound effects with ghosts and goblins.
These skeletons have started out small on the screen. Then came exploding toward you screaming and it terrified people. But you can see people amazed a century later entertainment entrepreneur’s made magic lantern shows a thriving business as early as the 1850s.
The stage for motion pictures
They were setting the stage for motion pictures the magic lantern by the 1890s. Just before the time of the movies really permeated. American society when people think of a slideshow they think a band mini slideshow. It’s going to be boring Oh. Ohio author and there were a variety of reasons. That magic lantern shows were not boring first. There was this extraordinary artwork in color and then there was movement. These were done with moving pieces of glass the most famous was the rat catcher and Andrew swallows.
The rats I think it’s important to understand that that before the movies arrived. There was a quarter of a millennium of screen entertainment 250 years. The movies did not just come from nowhere magic lanterns used drawings and still photographs hints of the potential of using photography to create an illusion of movement is said to have resulted from a $25,000. Bet California railroad magnate Leland Stanford hired San Francisco photographer and traveling showman Edward Muybridge to prove that a running horse at all four hooves off.
The ground my bridge came up with a clever idea to settle the dispute. He lined up a row of cameras attached to threads stretched across a horse’s path his technical breakthrough was a camera with an electronic shutter. That could snap pictures in five hundredths of a second. When my bridge showed drawings based on the photographs in sequence.
They created an illusion of movement viewers called it a magic lantern gone mad Stanford won his bet soon. My bridge was traveling the country projecting his photographic studies in motion to more than a few in the audience. The fact that many of the images depicted naked models including. The photographer himself was an added draw in 1888.
American legend photographer
The entrepreneurial photographer brought his traveling show to West Orange New Jersey. Here he encountered an American legend. The Wizard of Menlo Park Thomas Alva Edison to invent Edison liked to say you need imagination and a pile of junk in 1877 at age 30. He astonished the world with the phonograph two years later he demonstrated an electrical lighting system. That illuminated entire cities Edison had a number of qualities. That I think made him very successful both as an inventor and as an innovator and entrepreneur one. He had boundless enthusiasm for what he was doing secondly. He had an indomitable will he never thought of himself as failing at any time. When my bridge met Edison the photographer had another bright idea.
First sound phonograph with moving images
What about combining the sound phonograph with moving images. The inventor was intrigued on October the 8th 1888 Edison announced plans to create an instrument. That would do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear he had no idea how he’d accomplished. This feat but with typical shrewdness. He was staking a claim for a future patent wkl Dixon a dapper Scot Irishman who sometimes served as the labs photographer was assigned to get the job done. Dixon was rather an aesthete. He dressed very elegantly he liked to go to the theatre.
He was an elegant man. He was actually only 28. Hhen he started to work with Edison on this motion picture project. Dixon’s first attempt to make photographs that moved used a series of tiny pictures wrapped around a cylinder device similar to Edison’s. First phonograph they were viewed through an eyepiece like a microscope an early experiment only. Seconds long was called monkeyshines the crude images moved. But there was a long way to go and Edison wasn’t alone.
There were people working independent of one another in numerous countries in France in England. Here in the United States and possibly elsewhere. All making moves toward this idea of of capturing motion on film in France an experimental scientist at General. Millay inspired by my bridge designed a camera that took pictures of birds on a strip of perforated photographic paper step-by-step.
The interconnections of movie history
The interconnections of movie history led to Paris visitors to the exposition in their cell of 1889 debated. Whether the new Eiffel Tower was a thing of beauty or an eyesore. While showing his electrical light system at the exhibition. Edison learned more about a change in Malthus camera. When Edison returned to the United States he had new instructions for Dixon use strips of photographic film perforated with sprocket holes to guide. The pictures through an improved camera called the cinemograph. The new system was made possible by thin and flexible photosensitive celluloid perfected by George Eastman inventor of the Kodak camera.
It wasn’t long before Edison and Dixon were ready for a sneak preview in 1891. The inventor’s wife Mina hosted members of the Women’s Clubs of America at the family home. Glenmont the unsuspecting ladies were asked to peer into a wooden box through a peephole inside they saw something amazing a moving photograph. wkl Dixon doffing his hat. The excitement of that moment must have been something to experience to have gone to visit mrs. Edison and all of a sudden. Here you are the first people to see Thomas Edison’s newest invention. This marvelous thing right motion pictures centuries of ideas and inventions were rushing together a new way of reimagining.
The world was taking shape a remarkable generation of inventors and visionary engineers was leading. The way in 1893 as wkl Dickson increased his movie output. He constructed a large shack covered with tar paper. It was the first full-fledged movie studio. It was called the black Mariah. Because it reminded playful Edison experimenters of a police paddy wagon working in the black Mariah lab. Employees became America’s first movie actors photographing themselves in short scenes using a heavy electrically powered camera.
One of the first films they made was blacksmithing scene. They would take a piece of iron out of the Forge and they pound it and also pass around a bottle of a beer among. The participants in 1894 edison and dixon were finally ready to take their new motion picture machine to the marketplace. A little more than 24,000 dollars had been spent creating the new invention.
First Kinetoscope parlour
Now it was time to cash in on April of 14th. The first Kinetoscope parlor opened on Broadway in New York City in less than five years. The movies had been born wkl Dixon called the amazing new invention. The crown and flower of 19th century magic at the new Kinetoscope parlors a nickel bought 20 seconds of movie entertainment often accompanied by separate music from a phonograph heard through ear tubes at the Edison laboratory Dixon and his production crew rushed to keep up with audience demand.
They produced over 75 P precipitous in 1894 alone famous and not-so-famous performers visited. The black Mariah and were captured on film including young sharpshooter. Annie Oakley movies were hardly upscale entertainment. The early motion picture audience were people in bars. They were people traveling on trains. Just stopping for a moment to view a motion picture to keep themselves amused while. They were waiting for the next train.
They were put into amusement parlors this was kind of lower-class amusement to maximize profits. Each round of a boxing match was shown on separate kinetoscopes it cost 60 cents for fight fans to see. The whole bout despite a surge of early success. It didn’t take long for the peep show fad to fade audiences wanted more in France two Brothers Augusta and Louis lumière were impressed by the Kinetoscope. But they had a better idea. Why couldn’t movies be like a moving magic lantern show projected on a big screen and shown to a large audience not one person at a time by 1895. They had their motion picture system a hand-cranked camera and projector called the cinematograph.
Ramie brother’s first movie showed
The ramie brother’s first movie showed workers leaving. The family photographic plant unlike. Edison’s bulky electrically driven system. Their camera could move freely and capture scenes of everyday life preserving forever a Lumiere family meal. The Lumiere’s had their first commercial screening in a Paris cafe in December 1895.
They showed 9 short films the audience was entrapped and it’s really from that moment on that. You can say that motion pictures have been shown almost continuously. You know every day. If not every hour of the day from that point onward a popular early. Show was a comic scene featuring a boy a man and a garden hose within a few months. There were ramier movie theaters in London Brussels and Brooklyn showing images from around the world back in the United States feeling. The competition Thomas Edison and business partners acquired. The rights to another inventor’s machine they made a few improvements and put Edison’s name on.
It looking like a marriage of a magic lantern and the innards of a Kinetoscope. The new machine was called the vitae scope it made. Its debut on April the 23rd 1896 at the coaster and biles Music Hall in New York City well. I think when audiences first saw the move is being projected on a screen in a theater. It must have been an incredible experience. We can sort of laugh at it today because it seems so cliché. But the idea of seeing a train approaching you and you think suddenly. So I would like Freda you suddenly think the trains going to crush. You as it comes over you it must have been quite impressive and in a way. I don’t think we can really understand just how magical and how exciting it was back. Then in 1896 in the United States.
There was only one place to see projected movies a year later. There were hundreds across the country projected movies were all the rage in America but innovations from France were still leading. The way and entertainers were replacing engineers in the United States. If Edison was the wizard of movie and machinery in Paris an imaginative. Frenchman was the magician of movie storytelling. George Melies was a performing magician and he was also a wonderful artist as well. I love seeing Nellie Aces films because the direct relationship to magic is so clear that.
They’re often people producing and performing stage magic effects but in a different way things. That just weren’t possible at the time on stage so he expands the ideas of stage performers in a very pleasant way and its great fun to watch. Its great fun to watch his inventiveness beginning in 1896 many as visual trickery was not only a means to astonish audiences.
He was exploring movie techniques. That are still used today turning brief skits into short stories in 1902. He produced a motion picture landmark based on a book by Jules Verne a trip to the moon. I think Melies was a truly original character. He was getting some ideas from the productions of the day from the magic theaters that. He himself was heir to but I think a lot of it was just clear insight creative genius.
American movie makers
American movie makers were scrambling to keep up with international competition always looking for something. That would sell tickets they weren’t afraid to push. The boundaries of propriety may Irwin and John see Rice were starring in this musical comedy. The widow Jones and at the very end of the musical comedy. They kiss and someone had. The idea of why don’t we put it on the screen in 1896. The kiss aroused coals for censorship absolutely disgusting one critic called whether watched through a Kinetoscope.
Peephole or in a darkened theater movies were inherently voyeuristic and there were film makers only too happy to tantalize public tastes not only men. But also inquisitive women could oh go vaudeville strongman Eugene Sandown flexing his muscles movies projected an illusion of reality. But the line between fact and fiction quickly began to blur real troops were photographed leaving for the spanish-american war in 1898 called actualities. Such films were the ancestors of newsreaders.
But Edison competitor J stuart blackton also recreated the US navy’s victory at manila bay fooling more than a few in the audience. Only later did black ton proudly show how it was done movies could be persuasive justifying the war tearing down. The Spanish flag was an early propaganda film as early as 1897 wide-awake entrepreneurs were turning out. The first filmed commercials pitching products. Such as cigarettes to a captive audience as Thomas Edison continued to expand. His production capabilities in 1900. He hired a former sign painter plumber stagehand machinist and projectionists Edwin s Porter. Whatever Porter I think is really America’s.
First filmmaker in the beginning
I don’t think we really had filmmakers. We had cinematographers. We had cameramen who would take one shot films and they would be sold to exhibitors and these exhibitors would take. These one-shot films and they will combine them into a program movies were considered disposable amusements unworthy of special respect theater owners assembled a program in any order. They wished they could re-edit films or project them faster to allow for more screenings during the day Porter’s films for Edison were among. The first to tell stories not just present short scenes. He begins to create films a life of American.
Fireman is one of the more famous examples where he shows the same scene from different perspectives. So there are these new efforts being made to figure out. What film is about and how one tells a story with film.
The Great Train Robbery
The Great Train Robbery was probably Evan Porter’s most successful and as his best-known film. It set new standards of what was possible in terms of commercial motion pictures sometimes shown with hand colored prints. The Great Train Robbery was America’s first blockbuster. There was action suspense ending in a chase and final shootout. The final image was unforgettable directly confronting. The audience and including them in the action.
The Great Train Robbery not only helped changed how movies were made. It also influenced where they were shown the success of films like the Great Train Robbery made possible. The development of these storefront theatres a specialized motion picture theaters and they just sort of spread across. The country like wildfire and they began to appear in 1905 by 1960 no seven. There were thousands of them they were showing films all day. They started changing their programs every day and so the demand for motion picture product was very intense.
The new movie emporiums were called Nickelodeon’s a term combining nickel. The cost of admission and Odeon the Greek word for theater one of the first to open was in Pittsburgh in 1905 seating 100 customers. It was in business from 8 a.m. to midnight to sold-out audiences by 1908. There were between 4,000 and 5,000 Nickelodeon’s across America entertaining 2 million customers a day in the United States inventor and businessman. Thomas Edison had launched an entertainment revolution an unlikely generation of new movie pioneers would soon follow as the movie business was being born so was a new America.
Birth of movies occurs
The birth and development of movies occurs in a very interesting timeframe alongside. The Industrial Revolution and alongside that tremendous wave of emigration that started in the late 19th century and continued into the early 20th. Most of the men we think of as the pioneering movie moguls were immigrants most of them were Jewish. Most came here with no clear-cut notion of what they might do in America except. That America was the land of opportunity for many of these movie pioneers. The route to Hollywood power began at the very bottom the future founder of paramount Adolph Zukor was raised as an impoverished orphan in Hungary. There was no such thing as childhood. When you became able to do something get to work and his apprenticeship.
I believe ended when he was 15 and then he wanted to come to America so they gave them $40 and a ticket and sends him to America steerage on the slowest ship down. Where the bilge water is and they stacked these bunks six deep people were robbing each other and people were throwing up all over the place. It was just a horrible experience as soon as he arrived in the United States in 1888. Adolf suka began his search for the American dream he was an optimist and a forward-looking guy and I think he thought you know this is the beginning. It was by the time he was fitting bazooka was a successful furrier but a visit to a penny arcade with his fiancée changed his life. He saw Edison’s the kiss it made an indelible impression. He remembered years later by 1903.
He owned a New York penny arcade called the automatic fatherhood in 1910. zuker was joined by a partner Marcus Lowe. The son of immigrants from Austria Lowe had dropped out of school. When he was 9 he tried his hand with a number of odd jobs like azúcar working as a furrier in Covington. Kentucky Lowe saw a movie theater and was stunned that the people literally fought to get inside by 1907. He owned 40 Nickelodeon’s across. The United States Carl Laemmle the future founder of Universal Studios was the leather ambitious immigrant. He came to America from Germany and saw promise in making money a penny or a nickel at a time my uncle was extremely intelligent.
He was only 17 when he came over to this country and he had $50. His father had given him $50 and that was it his motto was it can be done with that attitude. He just proceeded to do it. caryl Emily had been in the in the clothing business or in the dry goods business wash Akash. They wanted to start out on his own so he went to Chicago to see if he could find some prospects for business of his own and instead of looking at a five-and-ten-cent store. Which was his original idea. He sees this Nickelodeon he sees people coming in they paid the five cents or ten cents. Simply to look at something this seen him even better than Woolworths idea seeing an opportunity was one thing seizing. It took hard work and hustle in Youngstown Ohio the Warner family found a home after emigrating from Poland for Warner Brothers were go-getters.
The boys were invented they were entrepreneurs they got into a variety of businesses. They had a bicycle repair shop they had an ice cream shop. They partly owned a bowling alley at one time. Harry Warner was really the patriarch of the brothers. He was the one who had the business sense. Albert warner is the second oldest brother they called him Honest Abe. He would be take care of the books and then further down there was Sam Warner. Sam was perhaps the most electrifying of all the brothers she was the one who was not only a good business man. He was very good with people and he had a great sense of inventiveness Jack Warner was the kid he was the juvenile delinquent of the family. He was the one who joined a gang for a while a street gang.
He was the one who pulled the rabbi’s beard. He was a disappointment to his father and to his older brother’s disappointment had brought immigrants to America ambition gave them hope. Another future movie mogul from humble beginnings was William Fox born William Fuchs in Hungary Fox’s family moved to New York’s Lower. East Side ghetto when he was six years old he was raised in poverty working long hours as a boy. He was on the back of a milk wagon and fell off broke his arm in several places his family could not afford to bring him to a proper Hospital and he used to hide. This arm this withered arm and that even gave him more tenacity than ever to fight to be the best to get.
The most they have the most control and he became a very difficult man he was one of the most difficult of the moguls ever. He was driven by being superior in some way and I think he was also a dreamer drawn to entertainment after working in the garment business by 1905. Fox had saved enough money to buy his first Nickelodeon soon he owned 15 in Manhattan and Brooklyn. He wasn’t an entertainer he was a business oriented person but what he had experienced.
I guess is an immigrant was that everybody needed some sort of entertainment. So he would constantly ask people in the theater did you like this did you want this you know sometimes. It’s not who you know or what you know it’s where you are it’s the opportunity.
That presents itself another unlikely entertainment entrepreneur was Louie beam am an immigrant from Russia he grew up in New Brunswick Canada the son of a junk dealer streetwise and tough mayor learned the art of the deal. Early on by the time my grandfather was seven or eight he would go into the neighborhoods and collect scrap metal. You have to be charming you have to be winning you have to persuade someone to part with her metal and you’re not giving them any money for it.
You’re just collecting it he was only five foot seven inches but carrying scrap metal around of extraordinary weight. He became very strong and I think the word driven would apply to Louie and he thought. He was going places the early immigrant movie entrepreneurs had much in common their roots were found in towns and villages of Eastern Europe within 500 miles of Warsaw in America within a few years of each other.
They came to their life’s work almost by accident most started as theater owners rather. Than movie makers one of Sam Warner’s odd jobs was as a projectionist. Sam Warner was so excited by this new invention that he convinced his brothers to get into the movie business. They did that by pawning their father’s delivery wagon horse for the meat market for about a hundred and fifty dollars. They bought a movie projector and with it came a print of the Great Train Robbery.
The brothers took that movie and toured local towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania and made more money in a week. Than their father made it a month back at the butcher shop. The Warner Brothers opened their first theater in New Castle Pennsylvania and they named. It the Bijou theater and it was really just a small storefront and they had to borrow cherish from the local Undertaker and then return them for the funerals for the next morning also starting as a theater owner.
Louie beam airs movie career began in 1907 in Haverhill Massachusetts near Boston. He borrowed from family and friends to lease a rundown burlesque house called the gem. He renamed it the Orpheum. He borrowed enough money to refurbish it to put in new seats to paint it with bright colors to have circulars distributed all over the neighborhood. So people would come to the gym because the gym was not a place you’d go theaters dedicated to movies were opening across. The country and owners were eager to maximize their profits in Arkansas for example in order to get people in instead of paying money one day. They said okay we’re going to charge one egg admission price for a child and two eggs for an adult. Just to get them into the movie-going habit in Chicago.
The Bala bands were another ambitious immigrant family my dad’s family my grandparents lived on Maxwell Street which was the Lower East Side of Chicago were kind of ghetto that. Where you went to if you were Jewish and from Russia I guess you could see some friends and you ended up. There and it was cheap to survive many new arrivals to America joined in family businesses for the Bala bands with eight kids. It was a grocery store living behind the store. They worked hard and kept their eyes open for new opportunities my grandmother Goldie who helped run the little food store that. They had went to a Nickelodeon one day and around 1905 and she comes home and she says boys this is what we’re going into she said it’s great.
That you can’t even get in until you pay the money and when the product is old. It’s not like lettuce. it doesn’t wilt you don’t throw it away you send it back and you get a fresh print so that was it for her. She saw it on that very clear level of a way to really make some money. Their first theater was the Kedzie Theater. I think it’s at 100 people something wasn’t too big. I think they bought it for $68 in 1908 and then with their movie business began in the 1900s.
Heart of the Movie Business
The heart of the movie business was New York here were production and distribution companies and shooting facilities like Edison’s glass-encased studio in the Bronx. When a story called for exteriors they were often found a ferry ride away across.
The Hudson River to the Palisades of New Jersey an entrepreneurial village eager to rent horses and hotel rooms. Fort Lee was the first Hollywood here early moviemaking was like an outing to the country. Where everyone pitched in to add to the fun early movie makers were like eager students in the world’s first film school. But there were no textbooks or classrooms. They were creating their coursework as they went along and learning from each other. They were turning a fad into a new form of entertainment and making mistakes along.
The way often all it took was a camera and a few actors to put together the typical 10 to 12 minute one realer and who needed a script you’d have a script. It might be only one page long but it would just give you a basic storyline. Sometimes where the comedy and might sort of end with comic bit from this point onwards and then it would leave. The the comedians to do whatever they wanted to until you say run out of film. Then that’s the the eight or 10 minute meal complete and you could say cut and you’ve got your completed motion picture production at Fort Lee.
He represented the fast and freewheeling quality of the early movie business anybody could do anything nothing was compartmentalized or departmentalized. You could be a screenwriter one day a direct to the next or an editor one day and a director. The next it didn’t really matter early movie making not only allowed enterprising men to launch careers. But entrepreneurial women as well the motion picture owes a great deal to women. You go back to 1896 one of the earliest female directors is Alice key. Alice key is a secretary at Gomel in Francez after hours after she has finished her work as a secretary during the day. She begins directing these little movies and putting together scenes. Alice key was one of the first to say let’s tell a story with this film.
Use of Sound System in the Movies
Let’s have a beginning a middle and an end he came to Cleveland in 1907 with her husband. Herbert blushy in New York she formed her own company’s sole acts producing everything from comedies and westerns to a biblical epic a rare film shows her working with an early sound system in 1905 movies. Were her prince charming and she said one of the common denominators with these incredible women. Who did get into the film business and it was also true of the immigrants and the Jews who worked in the film business. This incredible magnet was their creativity things were constantly changing and so you had to have that nerve to jump on this roller coaster and ride it out.
If early moviemaking was open to opportunity it was not a glamorous or prestigious occupation many of the early theatre people turned. Their noses up but the idea of films as not being artistic not being worthy of their talents. But the $5 a day that you could make as a as an actor in films was appealing especially when you weren’t. Otherwise working kentucky-born David work. Griffith was one of those underemployed actors. He had little interest in the movies when he showed up for work at the Edison Company run by Edwin s Porter.
He was hard to perform in a typical melodrama rescued from an Eagles Nest. It wasn’t an auspicious debut when Griffiths moved to the Biograph company an Edison competitor. He found there was a way to make more money working in movies opportunity rises to become a director for the Biograph Company. He says well ok I’ll be the director but you have to promise me that if it doesn’t work out.
I can go back and get my day job as an actor for you which is something that’s dependable and easy when Griffith began his motion picture career filmmaking was sometimes more about machinery. Than storytelling men like Gottfried Wilhelm Bitzer better known as Billy were typical early filmmakers by the time. He was 32-bit sir had photographed 300 short films.
When Griffith finally got a chance to direct he turned to the experienced young cameraman for advice bits at she took a piece of cardboard. That had been used to keep the shirts that were newly laundered sort of in place. So he jotted down on this piece of cobble what. He thought rivers should know about direction and that was basically how good. It became a director that was Griffiths the initial textbook in 1908.
Griffiths Directed First Film in Hollywood
Griffiths first film as a director was The Adventures of dolly a typical suspenseful melodrama. He was working and learning fast theater programs often changed on a daily basis that required a lot of new product DW. Griffith in his first year made 57 or more films this was not unusual other directors that other Studios were making. The same number of films maybe even more and you could make mistakes and nobody would notice. Because next week there’d be another picture working with Bitzer Griffith quickly recognized the dramatic advantages of shooting on location that meant regular trips to Fort Lee.
New Jersey Griffith was simply able to point his camera in one direction. Where there was a nineteenth-century house move at ninety degrees and you have something that looks like a turn-of-the-century. New York tenement building 90 degrees in the other area and hope and field during. His five years of the Biograph Company. Griffith made more than 400 films and created a foundation upon which generations of future filmmakers would learn and build.
I think Griffith certainly more than anybody else had a sense. That the movies could be something more than what they were and he carried that enthusiasm along with him during. Griffiths earliest days movie actors were anonymous but one Biograph heroine stood out an experienced stage performer from Canada Gladys Smith. Her stage name was Mary Pickford like Griffith Pickford reluctant returned to the movies for steady income in Pickford’s. First film the lonely villa. She plays the eldest daughter in a family menaced by robbers already. Griffith was transforming moviemaking from static staging to dynamic storytelling intercutting separate actions to create energy and suspense even though many of his Biograph movies were the stuff of 19th century.
Melodrama and some of his actors adopted to grand gestures of the theater Griffith was already appreciating. The difference between old-fashioned stage acting and subtler movie performance although. They had a contentious relationship Mary Pickford was one of the first to benefit from his tutelage. After her came 16 year-old Lillian Gish Lillian and Dorothy Gish were friends of Mary Pickford and it was through Mary Pickford that. They came to the Biograph company Griffiths saw in the sisters and especially Lillian an exemplar of the ideal of this innocent young woman not unlike the roles of Mary Pickford been playing with Pickford was getting ready to move on and Griffiths needed a new ingenue and Lillian Gish fit. That role perfectly.
She says fail virginal tie but she’s also very strong people tend to forget that with his heavens. Were always strong them a lot a lot of masculine traits. They were they were almost feminists in lots of ways. If acting was more sophisticated in Griffiths films some promoters of the time also claimed. He was the inventor of techniques such as the close-up and intercut action. He wasn’t but he was the first to combine them with unprecedented expressive power Griffith had a sense of the rhythm of film and probably the first one to really play on that ability of film to move from place to place from point of view to point of view and to create a rhythm.
That is not possible in any other medium. Griffith was also expanding the range of early movies storytelling with films such as the Musketeers of Pigalle considered an early example of the gangster film a corner in wheat was an early message picture an expose of the impact of corrupt business practices. The greedy villain met an appropriate fate. The Battle of elder bush goats was an action-packed Western with the added emotional appeal of puppies’ babies and plucky children still a staple of noise as DW Griffith was creating.
Modern Movie Storytelling in Hollywood
The foundations for modern movie storytelling it was clear that. There were more than nickels and dimes to be made with motion pictures no one knew. This better than Thomas Edison the technology was always related to his patents having the key patents using them to control entry into the marketplace was very important. He did the same thing with motion pictures Edison claimed all patents on everything literally cameras and film and whatever you want he owned it. He claimed he owned everything well many independents went and bought.
French German cameras using in Hollywood Movies
French cameras German cameras you know they went around Edison which made him really irritated so the problem was that. Edison and I think Edison knew this he had developed a commercial motion picture system. That you know everyone else was ripping off and he felt that he should get some credit for in fact. He felt he should get money for you should get royalties for it Edison had been suing movie competitors since.
Hollywood 1890s in 1908
The 1890s in 1908 he became a leader in the motion picture patents company a formidable organization. That included George Eastman the major manufacturer of motion picture film. As well as the important production and distribution companies by 1910. The trust controlled half of US theaters the trust would hire detectives to track down anyone and everyone who was showing their films or showing non trust films and was trying to make films and there are all. These stories of being on a set one day in one of these independent wildcat productions and income these hired goons who just destroyed the set destroyed.
The cameras and Tim and eight people even as he tried to establish total control Edison was also creating the framework for the modern motion picture business. He was America’s first movie mogul but Edison’s major competitors weren’t easily intimidated when they came in and saw this business. This was their future they loved it. They embraced it they were strong men on control to control it and were not the type of men to be told what to do particularly by Edison.
You don’t tell things like this to people like zukor Laemmle or William fox and that spurred them into becoming their own companies making their own films Carl. Laemmle response was the independent moving picture company imp in his logo was a little imp with a little pitchfork sort of sticking it into Edison’s rear end irritating him. While attempting to evade trust enforces William Fox and Carl Laemmle fought a persistent counter-attack in the court.
After many years six years of court fights you can imagine the strain that. It put my uncle under all of this time. But he would not give up and he finally won in 1915. The US Justice Department stepped in declaring the Edison trust an illegal monopoly but by then movie makers had already found more hospitable. Surroundings as early as 1902 motion picture pioneers were travelling across the continent in search of open and inexpensive land low labor costs freedom from trusts and forces and most of all sunshine like the homesteaders of the 19th century movie. Pioneers with names like Laski DeMille Goldwyn Mayer and Warner moved west their destination was Los Angeles and a nearby rural hamlet. It was called Hollywood.
At The Beginning of Hollywood
The rise of the movies was astonishing in America with a generation of unlikely founders many of them immigrants. Who began catering to lower-class audiences the business of making movies was expanding fast and on the lookout for fresh opportunities by 1912 film exhibitor a doll zuker was convinced. There was a future in more than the short 10 to 20 minute movies of the day my grandfather was a visionary and he thought you know it’s really you have Broadway. Where you have excellent plays your excellent actors in limited numbers of people will see. These fine productions and wouldn’t it be great if you could capture. The quality that you have on Broadway in the media. Where millions of people can see it at low cost.
Zuka bought a French film starring the legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt reprising her stage performance as 16th century England’s Queen Elizabeth at 45 minutes. It was three times longer than the typical movie. But Zuka capitalized on Bernhardt’s name and market of the film brilliantly soon afterwards uka formed a production company famous players. He planned to release six full-length features a year despite.
The fact that pioneering filmmaker Edwin s Porter was convinced. There wasn’t that much talent in the world advertising famous players in famous plays zuker drew heavily on the New York stage. But movie production was migrating west to Los Angeles as early as 1898.
Thomas Edison camera crew had captured. The city on film they photographed orange groves symbols of Southern California’s agricultural abundance and healthy environment and the creation of the city’s. New man-made port soon to be the most important on the west coast in 1907 movie makers began filming scenes in Southern California. One of the first complete films were shot behind a Chinese Laundry Colonel William Selig a former magician at minstrel show impresario from Chicago set up. The first full-fledged studio on the east side of the city other production companies settled in Santa Barbara and Northern California.
But Los Angeles was the hub attracting adventurous entertainment entrepreneurs including one who had already made a name for himself in vaudeville. Jesse Lasky was a cornetist on stage with his sister he probably wasn’t the greatest musician in the world. But he was also a producer of vaudeville acts and he had acts playing all over the country. Laskey sister Blanche married Samuel goldfish whose original name was small Delphis. He was born into poverty in Warsaw Poland after crossing the Atlantic goldfish walked across. The Canadian border to America and became a successful glove salesman. This was a man who was going to reinvent himself and he went into a movie theater in Herald Square. He walked in and the place stank of perspiration and peanuts.
He looked up on the screen and saw for the first time a motion picture and by the time. He had reached his apartment. He realized that’s what I now want to get into movies goldfishes brother-in-law. Jesse Lasky like many theatre people sneered at the new fad but goldfish wore him down. He was not an easy man he was quick to temper. When he believed in something he would become passionate about it and many things. It was my way Jesse Lasky had a friend Cecil B DeMille a struggling playwright and actor who was also ready for a change in 1913. He sat down with Jesse Lasky and Jesse Lasky’s brother long Sam goldfish and said that.
He was fed up he was thinking of leaving the country and going down to Mexico and acting as a war correspondent. The revolution was going on in Mexico at the time and Lasky and DeMille had become good friends and Lasky said well. If you’re looking for adventure why don’t we make movies when they finally got to the nuts and bolts of creating? The company they were in a restaurant where they lunched every day in a hotel. They scribbled their positions on the backs of menus Laskey goldfish and DeMille had a new business. The Jesse L Lasky feature play company but they’d never made a movie so DeMille went up to the Edison studio in the Bronx to see how films were made.
He came back after the first day and said well if this is how they do it then I’ll be the king of this business in a week. Because I can do this the new partners acquired the rights to a successful play. The Squaw Man and headed west to turn it into a movie the original idea was to shoot. The Squaw Man in Flagstaff Arizona. They wanted to go to the real West because I thought that would add some box office appeal. When they got to Flagstaff legend has it that. It was raining or snowing but the truth of the matter was that. Flagstaff is in mountainous territory with a lot of trees and what DeMille wanted was wide-open spaces. They kept on to the end of the line Los Angeles where other movie companies were already at work including one. That established a studio in a former saloon in the sleepy residential suburb of Hollywood.
DW Griffith had been coming to Los Angeles since 1910. He shot this scene with a sparsely populated little village in the background. The first a clipping in moving picture world that covered my father’s being. There he said this is God’s country when they arrived in Los Angeles legend has it they found. This barn and it makes a nice story it has a biblical feel to it of the birth of the industry coming out of a barn in fact the barn that. They went to was already well-established as the burns in Revere studio. It was known as the best-equipped rent a lot in town at a time while Lasky and goldfish remained in New York.
DeMille got busy the Squaw Man wasn’t the first movie made in Hollywood but it was perhaps. The first feature-length movie filmed by film moviemaking pioneers began building. The framework for the art and business of making motion pictures as the demand for movies in America increased distinct types of storytelling styles emerged. One of the earliest was animation the first great artists of animation. Winsor McCay was a success in the comic section of early 1900s newspapers.
The whimsical adventures of McKay’s character Little Nemo were charming and beautifully drawn in 1911. McKay made his motion picture debut a film records his response to a bet. He produced thousands of hand drawn images to bring Little Nemo to life. It wouldn’t be the last time that a comic strip character became a success on the movie screen as another hint of things to come in 1914.
McKay created a playful Jurassic age heroine Gertie the dinosaur Gertie and McKay toured vaudeville houses audiences as the animator introduced. His hand-drawn star and even interacted with her telling her what to do early animated cartoons provided audiences with laughs. But human actors created the most popular antique adventures. The first king of movie comedy was Canadian born Mack Sennett like many others. He began his career with DW Griffith what Senate did as a disciple of DW Griffith was take. Griffiths whole concept of editing and editing for speed and apply it to comedy in 1912 Senate daughters. His own production company Keystone and joined the exodus to Hollywood.
Hollywood in 1912-1913
Hollywood in 1912-1913 was a time when movies were an idea one week in front of the camera. The next and in theaters within a month taking inspiration from French farce. The Keystone comedies were known and loved around the world working with a comic crew of actors Senate turned. The streets of Los Angeles into a back lot with a cast that featured manic cops and prancing bathing beauties Senate had a real knack for spotting Talent. He was the training ground place for comedians but not all Keystone comics were like zany Ford’s during. There was beautiful Mabel Normand when Mabel was teamed with Roscoe Fatty Arbuckle. They made an unlikely couple daddy is big not only in height but weight and Mabel is little and so you have 510 to 5 feet we have 266 pounds to a hundred pounds. They’re already funny just as soon as you see them. They had this wonderful freewheeling comedy spirit together our buckle had been an agile knock about vaudeville performer his baby-faced on-screen personality and mischievous pranks made movie audiences laugh. Mabel Normand was more than a diminutive iPhone.
She was a tiny little woman with a big bosom. She had real sex appeal but she can do comedy like nobody’s business audiences were charmed by Mabel Normand. So was Mack Sennett Senate was definitely in love with Mabel Normand. Because of that promoted her to stardom Mabel Normand was the first great female comedy star. But also one of the first free spirited but vulnerable women to experience. The dark side of motion-picture Fame Mabel Normand lived life at the edge. The impulse to do stunts to drive fast go fast do it all fast. That you see her doing in her movies also applied in her personal life. It just seemed like whatever happened it went wrong with Mabel. If there was trouble Mabel was drawn to it Mack and Mabel never got together in getting married and perhaps. It would have made a difference in her life but she was a little too over the edge over the top for him evidently.
As a wife figure Mabel’s comic partner Fatty Arbuckle 2 would be caught in scandal and the glare of publicity. But for now an age of innocence and opportunity permeated American movies and talented Mabel Normand was not only acting. But directing Senate comedies and dreaming of a studio of her own one of the newcomers Mabel was assigned to direct was a young English Music Hall performer. I think there’s the great American story to Charlie Chaplin’s rise as a movie star.
Because he was one of the great rags to riches stories ever told his mother lost her reason his father died an alcoholic very early so unlike other children of that period that might have just succumbed. Just faded away Chaplin was this little super achiever. He was a professional in the music halls at 10:00 and he graduated to the greatest impresario of the comedy sketch in Britain. Fred Karno and it was with Carnot that he really honed his skills Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand first caught 24 year-old Chaplin’s act on stage. He had seen Chaplin perform at the Karno troupe in Los Angeles in the fall of 1913 and immediately realized. This was someone who’s going to be great for pictures in this early Senate film Chaplin appears in drag with Senate as his nemesis.
The Keystone boss was searching for a way to fit his find into his style of comedy Chaplin resisted. The problem sin has was once he spotted a talent. He didn’t necessarily know what to do with it you know his attitude was his style was what sold the pictures the star at Keystone was Keystone Charlie Chaplin would change. That starting at a salary of a hundred and fifty dollars a week within a year. He was Senate’s most famous performer with his own on-camera identity. The character Chaplin created was the Little Tramp and he described the character as a poet a dreamer a lonely fellow always hopeful for romance or adventure. It was a study of contradictions the boots were too big. The trousers baggy the coat too tight the bowler hat was too small.
He had a walking stick a bamboo cane to suggest a gentleman and the extraordinary thing about Chaplin is that. We can see the first audience reacting to Chaplin in that costume in his second film release kit auto races at Venice. We see the audience at a real child soapbox race reacting to him in at first. They don’t know what to think of him who is this bum. That’s just walking about making a mess of this kid race but slowly. They start to snicker and by the end that. They’re laughing and it’s just the most extraordinary footage Chaplin’s fame soared and with it his salary by the time.
He went to assign with the mutual film corporation. He was making more money than any entertainer in history six hundred and seventy thousand dollars plus a one hundred thousand signing bonus and that’s for just one year’s worth of work I think. The best of the Chaplin Mutual’s is the immigrant and that was Chaplin’s personal favorite of all his short comedies. He felt had a poetic quality there was comedy really strong comedy but there was also that wistful element. That pathos that he adored Chaplin’s wistful but resilient Tramp had wide appeal from children to adults from the wealthy to immigrants struggling to survive Chaplin comedies offered easily accessible low-cost entertainment. But the special power of the movies was an ability to create visions of the real world.
That stage players couldn’t match some of the most popular early movies were westerns and the outdoor action of Cecil B DeMille. The Virginian was an early example of decades of movies to come ftg em. Bronco Billy Anderson is widely considered the first great western movie hero born max Aronson in Arkansas. He became an actor writer and director in New York although. He wasn’t immediately comfortable in the saddle or at home on the range Anderson played multiple parts in Edwin’s porters.
The Great Train Robbery before specializing in westerns in 1907. He co-founded his own studio in Chicago but moved to the town of miles south of San Francisco cranking out comedies and shoot-’em-ups. That were Nickelodeon favorites it was a Bronco Billy film. That first inspired Sam goldfish to turn his attention to the movie business in 1915 as the co-owner of SMA film manufacturing company. Anderson lured Charlie Chaplin away from Mack Sennett and he gave other silent stars their early start. But over time Bronco Billy’s career as a cowboy hero was eclipsed by William’s heart another Easterner with a taste for the wild. Frontier his westerns were what we would now call neo-realist.
Cowboy enter in Hollywood
There were real dust real rough clapboard houses. They looked like you are out somewhere in the plains of Nebraska starting as an action hero. When he was 49 in films such as hells hinges hearts sometimes grim reality contrasted with a growing movie audience. That preferred uncomplicated action and most of all entertainment and glamour. The answer to their dreams was the son of a poor Pennsylvania lumberman who dropped out of school. Before the fifth grade ending up as a performer in a traveling rodeo and Wild West Show Tom Mix was the opposite of William’s Hart. He was your Rhinestone Cowboy glitz with the dude ranch look although. He was a real cowboy. He was a rodeo champion he could do phenomenal stunts a veteran of more than a hundred won and two revellers many of which he directed and produced mix joined William foxes Fox films in 1917. The next 10 years his movies became one of the studio’s biggest box office draws modest about his acting ability.
He once asked a director of which expression do you want one two or three audiences flocked to see Bronco Billy William s heart and Tom Mix. But behind the scenes, Thomas Ince had a major influence on how Hollywood movies were made like so many others in Spain. His film career at Biograph and Carl Laemmle ZUP start in company by 1911. He was writing and directing westerns in Los Angeles. He hired the cast and livestock of a traveling Wild West Show and put them on camera at a 20,000 acres spread along the California coast. Thomas Ince established a great studio for himself in Santa Monica. Where Sunset Boulevard hits the ocean called ins Phil it was a very isolated spot as late as 1915 there are reports of in sand some of his executives being held up on the street by highwayman you know sort of stagecoach style his westerns were rough hewn they were quite accurate he had plenty of riders he had plenty of Indians real Indians not Hollywood Indians real Indians and he mass-produced westerns thanks to automobile magnate Henry Ford mass production was creating a new model for American business starting in 1908 Ford’s Model T was produced on a moving assembly line each component of the car added in sequence according to a carefully structured master plan making movies may not have been exactly like assembling automobiles but to match production to increasing demand the process required a coordinated centralised system Thomas Ince was one of the first to manage what would become the modern movie studio some called them dream factories given the specificity of iNSYS scripts almost anybody could direct one of the scripts he would hand a script out to a director and the script would be stamped shoot exactly as written and the script would be broken down in terms of medium shots close-ups long shots it was all very very specific the movie was made on the page not on the stage once in the studio various departments would assemble the final product until in scale his approval Thomas Ince wasn’t alone in seeing the value in film factories while he was fighting Edison’s motion picture Trust in New York and making his first films in Fort Lee New Jersey Carl Laemmle had a grand vision for the ultimate movie studio one neighbor deciding what to name the studio it happened that my uncle was looking out the window and he saw this this truck go by Universal advertising something plumbing or whatever it was you know and he said I’ve got it I’ve got it he said it’ll be called Universal by 1915 Laemmle didn’t need to be convinced that the future of filmmaking was in Los Angeles he acquired 230 acres in the sparsely populated San Fernando Valley and started making plans his dream was to build a city for sole purpose of making movies and that’s what he really did and he built Universal City he had everything that a city has had a mayor a fire chief hospital a police department of course and a school and that was the way they did it and it was wonderful with typical Hollywood hoopla Universal City had a gala opening on March 15 1915 this was a big deal there was a sort of circus atmosphere around it where trains came from all over the country these trains would have large banners on them saying we are heading for the opening of Universal City California the biggest film producing Mecca in the world they invited Thomas Edison Buffalo Bill Annie Oakley William Jennings Bryan now 48 Carl Laemmle had come a long way from his humble German childhood he was the master of his own moviemaking domain but never lost his immigrants ties to family he would give almost every relative some kind of job there that’s how he eventually was called uncle Karl everybody called him uncle Karl whether they were relative or not uncle eager to maximize his profits Laemmle opened his new studio to tourists and sold twenty five cent box lunches as visitors watched the action on the sets Laemmle also took the factory model to heart early Universal movies were manufactured to reach a large audience as quickly and cheaply as possible all this speed and economy meant that the studio could be a great training ground one fledgling director who learned under lammles demanding schedules and family oriented hiring practices was the son of Irish immigrants he was chosen to be a director it was said because he could shout loud his name was John Ford they were going to look at a picture Ford had just completed Carl Laemmle jr. his points is eleven twelve years old and he brings in his pet monkey with him into the screening room and ford of jacks he says i don’t mind if the kid stays but i’m not gonna run my picture for a monkey so Carl Laemmle says alright jr. get rid of the monkey and the kid goes and gets her the monkey then comes back and they start the movie and when the movie is over and the lights come up Carl Laemmle turns to his senses what you think of the movie and Carl Laemmle jr. said I thought it stunk and forced it up and said get rid of the kid bring back the monkey Ford’s career was just beginning at the same time a new kind of movies storytelling was becoming popular a staple of Universal and other enterprising low-budget studios these films were first called chapter plays then serials many featured action-oriented female protagonists like pearl white she was faced at the end of each episode with often literally a cliffhanger filmed at the edge of the New Jersey Palisades like serialized magazine stories and novels before them cliffhangers encouraged moviegoers to come back for next week’s new installment a major goal of profit minded picture makers movies especially serials that featured female stars had a major influence on a changing America in terms of changing women’s lives movies and automobiles the advent of being able to control your local motion your movement and the vote they all happened together in about 10 years the vote come last in 1920 those three events changed women’s lives revolutionize them for forever during the period of 1910 to 1920 a majority of early movie audiences were women and children and many of the early movie makers realized that women were often best at appealing to these audiences as writers and even directors Hollywood was built by women immigrants and Jews people who never would have been accepted in an any other profession most people when they think of powerful women in the silent movie days think of actresses but actually the most powerful women in many silent movie years were producers directors writers pioneers such as Alice qiblah she had been directing as early as 1896 and by 1913 behind the scenes power was still available to women such as former concert pianist and actress Louis Weber I think no swept is incredibly important in the and in the history of the American silent screen I think Carl and his attitude at Universal was that she was a woman he could trust as a director she always came in on budget she was never going to let him down and her films actually sold they made money for him that was what it was most important I don’t think Laemmle cared of you a man or a woman if you could make a film and and make him some money that he was happy by the 1910s she was the most prominent director at Universal and the highest paid director on the lot Louis Weber was one hell of a storyteller she could know what was going to work on the screen she edited while she was filming she appreciated the nuances before others did she appreciated the importance of background of the texture of the film she would make films dealing with anti-semitism with opposing the death penalty she made films about the dangers of scandal and gossip on hypocrisy in religion and business and politics she made films advocating birth control she made films opposing abortion another female movie pioneer was Francis Marion she had been an artist and model before turning to the movies in 1914 for the next 25 years Marion was one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters Francis joined as a writer because Louis Weber the director realized that she was starting to get letters from people complaining that the actors had no script to follow so they were just talking about last night’s date and people in the audience’s could read lips so Francis started writing words for the extras to say one of the amazing things when you look at Francis Marian’s filmography is you see she had over 250 produced films when she met Mary Pickford in 1914 she originally went to see Mary to draw her portrait the two of them very quickly found a close friendship and the two of them really created a genre of films Pickford as a little girl Frances Marion’s greatest gift to Mary Pickford was probably adapting the poor little rich girl for her because in that film unlike any other pick for film before that the essence of Mary Pickford was stilled the partnership of Francis Marion and Mary Pickford America’s cute and spunky sweetheart was powerful together they were transforming an actress into a Hollywood star the star system emerged from the audience the audience began to recognize actors and actresses who appeared over and over again to love them to write fan letters and they therefore became stars it tends to be overlooked at how much power audiences did have in 1912 photoplay began as a magazine that told the stories there were very few pictures of the actors and actresses in the magazines that quickly changed the audience wanted to know who these people were they wanted to know what their lives were like were they married did they have children and very quickly the story took a backseat to the story of these actors lives at first they were known as picture personalities then simply stars mary pickford capitalized on her growing fame by signing a contract with Adolph Zukor in 1913 for $500 a week by 1916 it was $10,000 as contentious as Mary Pickford’s relationship with DW Griffith was it was almost the polar opposite with a table zukor which was surprising because Adolph Zukor was known as a very very very difficult individual but he adored Mary Pickford he called her sweetheart honey she called him daddy they had a very father-daughter paternal relationship starpower was growing quickly by 1917 Pickford’s friend Charlie Chaplin was his own producer and making a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars of film an average American schoolteacher earned only $1,000 a year Mary Pickford was the actress for whom the term movie star was really created she was the most famous woman in the world before anyone even knew her name she was the girl with the golden curls known worldwide the first true worldwide celebrity Mary Pickford was a great proponent of the positive thinking of visualization she envisioned herself with money she envisioned herself with power Adolph Zukor knew a little something about money and power he’d outbid his competitors for Mary Pickford in 1916 he consolidated his ambitions with a merger with Jesse Lasky creating famous players-lasky drawing upon proven stage successes in the appeal of popular stars the former furrier was an empire builder he was smarter than many of them so he was not looking so much for present profits as future profits which distinguished him to some degree from the people he was negotiating with the creation of famous players-lasky put two strong personalities on a collision course we have Samuel goldfish now thrown in the same room as Adolph Zukor and as I hope I can make clear here it was very hard for anybody to be in the same room with Sandra goldfish whether he was selling gloves or whether he was making movies this was not a man who played nicely with others and goldfish was kicked out of the company largely because a decisive vote was cast by Jesse Lasky goldfishes own brother-in-law Zuka left it up to my father to pay off mr. go fish and they met at a hotel in Hollywood and he gave him almost a million dollars in cash they’re after goldfish hooked up with a pair of Broadway actor writer director producers they were called the Selwyn Brothers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn and goldfish went into business with them and they formed a company combining a syllable from each of their names that is gold from goldfish and win from sell win so it was either that or selfish productions which some say was more apt Samuel goldfish liked the elegant sound of the Goldwyn name and soon adopted it as his own my father was always very sensitive about the goldfish thing if he saw a goldfish bowl it made him nervous [Laughter] the movies have always been a mix of artistry and business sense while Adolph Zukor Carl Laemmle Jesse Lasky William Fox and Samuel Goldwyn were building entertainment empires DW Griffith was establishing himself as the industry’s creative leader with the 50th anniversary of the end of the Civil War approaching in 1915 movies about the bloody battles between North and South were increasing Griffith began developing plans for the most ambitious and innovative of them all the birth of a nation based on the clansmen a novel and play by ardent southerner Thomas Dixon Jr Griffith was clearly a man with a big future I look back now and I realize that although this seemed like a golden opportunity it was also a recipe for disaster because anyone who put upfront money for this picture without really knowing how an audience would take to it would they line up would they buy reserve seats would they pay in advance where they sit still for two hours it was a big question work Birth of a Nation a big question mark I don’t think of anything you can say today to give people a sense of what a lightning bolt the birth of a nation was for audiences at the time it took the country by storm I mean there were people lined up for months to see the film and it was playing in major theaters at a $2.00 topic mission this when most movie theaters had a 25 cent topic mission Griffith boasted about his concern for historical accuracy but not every American cheered as the Ku Klux Klan rode to the rescue in the film stirring climax was from Kentucky and so you have the viewpoint of people who had come out of the defeat itself who had heard stories of the Old South and of its grandeur its power and it’s in its beauty and so a Griffith felt that he was really presenting history The Birth of a Nation was less history and more distorted lament for a lost cause the n-double-a-cp was formed in 1909 this organization now was really gonna fight for the rights of African Americans and it was gonna speak out against injustice –es and inequities white liberals were disturbed and spoke out about this film Jane Addams the great social reformer at Hull House in Chicago spoke out and wrote about this film grab I Stephen wises spoke out against the film there were violent confrontations in Boston and calls to censor the film in cities such as Pittsburgh and Chicago protesting the glorification of the Klan and degrading images of african-americans I mean these images are absolutely shocking but they fit into this story and the case that DW Griffith was building that these black men had to be controlled they had to be put back into their place all they could bring would be disorder and chaos at the time most white Americans including Griffith remain blind or supportive of the racist imagery even at the highest levels of American society Thomas Dixon knew exactly how to promote this film he persuaded Woodrow Wilson to scream the film at the White House so here suddenly we have the first time a motion picture being shown at the White House for the President of the United States Wilson was very excited about it other members of his staff who saw it there in the White House were excited by this film and Wilson said it’s like writing history with lightning Dixon then approached the US Supreme Court he knew that the head of the Supreme Court had been a member of the Klan Dixon proudly reported the Chief Justice’s admiration for Griffiths visually innovative representation of the war but The Birth of a Nation was a success even without such claims of higher-level support when it toured the country the movie travelled with a full orchestra playing an original score with a team of sound effects specialists to enhance the battle scenes it was a movie phenomenon unlike anything seen before the fact that it was such a commercial success many people felt that it really led to the creation of Hollywood itself because Hollywood was not really Hollywood at that point I think that in looking at Birth the nation today we have to see its importance in the history of American movies and also Griffiths position as this major American film maker who took movies in a new direction technically and in in the art of telling a story and telling it for a large audience but some masterpiece would erase his masterpiece the success of the birth of the nation made DW Griffith world famous it also changed the life of enterprising New England theater and film exchange owner Lily Beamer using the enormous profits from exhibiting Griffiths film Mayer was able to move from showing movies to making them in 1918 he established his own low-budget production facility in Los Angeles located on the grounds of the old Selleck studio and Zoo Mission Road was a really lower-class neighborhood so you could get something pretty cheap there and selling zoo actually was a zoo with a lot of animals in business has really be mayor productions the farmers scrap metal dealer knew little about making motion pictures he had a fifth grade education the only way he could learn was by observing and asking why is the camera there why is the lighting over here why aren’t you going to a close-up how he come you’re going to that close-up he was a nudge and he drove everybody nuts Mayer learned fast he had to the movies grow faster than probably any commercial form of recreation that I can think of in American history imagine when you’re showing the first actualities at the turn of the century you have a few hundred people viewing it by 1910 you have 26 million people going a year roughly quarter of the population by 1914 virtually every city in America that has a population of more than four thousand people has a movie theater America goes movie crazy by 1916 there were approximately 21,000 movie theaters in the United States with an average seating capacity of 500 theater owners such as Marcus Lowe a former furrier at an essential piece of the action in Chicago the Balaban and cats chain was emerging as a dominant force in the Midwest they courted moviegoers with something new they were very concerned because the movie business was a seasonal business you don’t think about it now but you didn’t go to the movies or the Nickelodeon anyway you couldn’t go in the summer because in order to see these movies who had to darken everything so you couldn’t keep doors over you couldn’t keep windows open it was stiflingly hot so it came June July August and into September you couldn’t have the business there was nothing you could do with the space uncle Barney had ice this was a big thing so my uncle started the first air-cooled indoor movie theater because they had big blocks of ice and they would blow fans over it in the beginning it was a real issue because the fans worked pretty well but they were very very noisy and also occasionally the ice would start to melt the fan would get out of control and all the patrons would be splashed with icy cold water which was also a problem but they worked it out and eventually they were basically responsible for the first air-conditioned theaters as they appealed to more upscale audiences theater owners began building lavish moving-picture palaces The Strand on Broadway in New York City costs 1 million dollars at the time it was the most lavish movie theater ever built it’s at nearly 3,000 people in Los Angeles Sid Grauman son of a San Francisco theater owner failed as a prospector during the 1890s Alaska Gold Rush but he struck it rich with grand movie palaces such as the Million Dollar and in the 20s the Egyptian and the Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard theater magnate Marcus Lowe declared were selling tickets to theaters not to movies without theaters movies were just cans of film treated like royalty in the first picture palaces audiences could be demanding they wanted bigger better and more but that didn’t necessarily mean an end to a taste for old-fashioned entertainment ambitious and innovative DW Griffith found this out with intolerance a production that dwarfed the birth of a nation in both aspiration and budget interweaving stories from four periods of history intolerance was complex and sophisticated Griffith was reaching to position movies beside the grandest novels plays and operas the film’s massive set for ancient Babylon erected on a Hollywood street corner was a towering symbol of his ambition intolerance didn’t really do that well and it didn’t really do very much for Griffiths career it may seem very naive to us today because we can understand these four stories we understand what’s going on but back then audiences didn’t expect to have multiple storylines in the same film and they really just didn’t get it once again Griffith was ahead of his time by 1916 paying for the contracts of popular stars like Chaplin and Rickford made movie production increasingly expensive to cost-conscious William Fox the answer was to manufacture his own stars from scratch his most successful creation was mysterious Theda Bara Peterborough was one of those people who was developed inside the movies with a personality and a persona that was manufactured the vamp in 1915 Fox ballyhooed his new star as the love child of a French artist and his Egyptian mistress her name was an anagram for Arab death the fact that she was really Theodosian the daughter of a tailor from Cincinnati plus the real mystery of her past even if some in the audience were in on the charade they relished Theda Bara as one of the first movie sex symbols kiss me my fool she hissed in her first hit a fool there was and audiences were thrilled a less exotic and more hometown American image was provided by dashing Douglas Fairbanks on stage since 1900 Fairbanks was an established movie star by 1916 specializing in contemporary entertainments he was sunny and funny and active he was American he was everything that the era was about he was about getting ahead about going forward about climbing the ladder changing yourself becoming a success with movies from stars like Douglas Fairbanks Theda Bara Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin Hollywood movie makers offered audiences amusing diversions but not all was sweetness and light in early twentieth-century America a few filmmakers sawed box-office success by portraying harsher realities they’re looking to the headlines of the day they’re seeing what’s going on in America right now and they’re taking those headlines and they’re making movies about child labor they’re making movies about the exploitation of women and sweatshops what we call social issue films are being shown every week in movie theaters for the first decade and a half of American cinema in 1915 producer director writer and actor Louis Weber made the movie parable hypocrites audiences were shocked by her depiction of female nudity literally the naked truth but she also exposed the role of sex greed and grasping power in American life more entertainment oriented movie makers shied away from such fare even with dollops of sex and sensationalism such films were considered box-office poison for sure way to lose money Adolph Zukor complained to socially conscious filmmakers you’re picking my pocket despite this Carl Laemmle agreed to distribute traffic insoles an expose of the illicit practice of luring innocent immigrant girls into prostitution universals first full-length feature the film opened on Broadway in New York and was a huge success a mix of sensationalism and outrage reformers applauded its message and more important to an immigrant audience many of whom were not fluent in English it had special relevance and power the persuasive power of the movies was recognized early in 1916 faced with prospects of an expanding war in Europe Thomas Ince produced civilization one of the first American film epics and an anti-war plea for peace but it was too late after hesitating for years the United States entered the conflict in April of 1917 studio newsreels captured moving images of wartime action while movie makers such as DW Griffith enthusiastically made films to support the war effort the German enemy was a boon to a struggling bit player and production assistant to DW Griffith on the birth of a nation and intolerance his name was Erich von Stroheim or at least that’s what he said he claimed to be an Austrian aristocrat when in actually he was the son of a poor Jewish Milner he was pretending to be something he wasn’t all the time this is a man for whom he strove to be this incredible aristocrat all the wild half of him despising anybody who would be impressed by that in the heart of humanity playing a Prussian officer Stroheim rapes a young mother and throws her child at the window he became the man you love to hate a lurid onscreen justification for war and defeat of the German honey while Hollywood was supporting the war effort with flag waving and burial and anti German films movie stars like Charlie Chaplin Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks proved their loyalty during massive war bond tours 17 billion dollars was raised it was clear politicians benefited from star power but the movies needed politicians to beginning as early as the 1890s film makers faced repeated calls for censorship from states and cities such as Chicago and Boston and even New York where Nickelodeon’s had been banned for a brief time there’s a long history starting in 1916 when Congress held hearings whether there should be a Federal Board of censorship to get involved in censoring movies the movie industry leaders have always done everything they could to keep Washington out of their business and indeed they were funneling money into Democratic and Republican campaigns as early as 1915 they basically announced any politician in America who would oppose censorship openly they would give campaign funds for the mix of Hollywood power movies politics and propaganda had just begun with the Armistice of 1918 the United States and its European allies were the winners of World War one but victory for the American movie industry was even more decisive until 1914 Europe dominated international filmmaking headquartered in Paris the pass a company operated the world’s largest film studio and Italian epics set lavish production standards the disruption and devastation of war changed that by the end of the conflict the United States was the source of more than 80 percent of the world’s films and supplied 98% of movies shown in America in hardly more than 20 years the American motion picture business had evolved from a cheap novelty to the country’s fifth largest industry after agriculture transportation oil and steel and it seemed to happen in less than the flicker of a frame of film by 1920 the era of the first inventive engineers and peep show entrepreneurs was over and many of those who led the way had been left behind George Melies the magical French innovator had been forced to sell his Paris studio and slipped into obscurity he ended up selling toys in a Paris train station wkl Dixon who had developed the first movie machine with Thomas Edison had a brief career as a producer of news films but the business passed him by the Lumiere brothers who had pioneered projected movies in the 1890s abandoned film production in favor of developing new motion picture equipment Edwin s Porter who brought stories to movie screens in the early 1900s also returned to his machinist roots and was largely forgotten Alice key made her last movie in 1920 and returned to France where she worked as a writer even Thomas Edison the man who began at all dropped out of filmmaking in 1918 he never felt comfortable in the new world of entertainment the birth of the movies in America set the stage for an era of energy ambition and sometimes disconcerting social change by 1920 the full flowering of the silent film and the first grand era of moguls and movie stars was about to begin,
Hollywood from 1920 to 1929
By the 1920s making movies was the fifth biggest business in America and about to become bigger 1921 was an all-time record year for Hollywood studios. They produced eight hundred and fifty-four features. By 1922 nearly 40% of Americans went to a picture show. Every week the development and movies from just images of things happening without editing moved pretty quickly within a decade. I mean you had the studio system and the whole thing was working. It must have been a very exciting time at that point because it was an industry being born.
There was great experimentation going on great vitality. It was a land of gamblers really these early founders were showman. They were Barnum and Bailey kind of guys you know they throw the dice out there and they let it fly. I think initially they were all trying to build their own companies. And I do think that because they all came from the same kind of background moving here as immigrants from Eastern. Europe to a large extent most of them were Jewish sharing that kind of tradition. They