Summary of 7. The Studio Era

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The video discusses the history of the Hollywood film industry and how it has evolved over time. It explains how the industry works and how the stars and genres that are popular today are the result of a commercial system that started with stars and genres being created purely for commercial purposes.

  • 00:00:00 The transition to sound in film was made almost immediately, and Hollywood spent a great deal of money gearing up for it. One of the most famous lines from the first sound film, "The Jazz Singer," is "you ain't heard nothing yet." Within three years, sound films had largely disappeared. However, the film "Wizard of Oz" provides a wonderful dramatization of the process.
  • 00:05:00 The Hollywood production system produces approximately 500 films a year between 1930 and 1945. The system's success is due in part to the fact that the entire society is geared toward mass entertainment, and movie stars become well known to the audience. The system also relies on a genre system in which audiences are familiar with the conventions of a particular type of story.
  • 00:10:00 In the 1930s, Hollywood underwent a transformation from a primarily silent film industry to a primarily sound film industry. This change was facilitated by the development of mass production techniques and the incorporation of sound into film. One of the consequences of this transformation was the emergence of recognizable categories of film-making, including westerns, gangster films, social realism, historical spectacle, and smaller genres like the newspaper picture. In this week's lecture, Professor Jameson will discuss some aspects of screwball comedy and place it within the Central Hollywood genre.
  • 00:15:00 In this video, the filmmaker attempts to explain how the Hollywood film industry works, and how the stars and genres that are popular today are the result of a commercial system that started with stars and genres being created purely for commercial purposes. He also discusses how the aesthetic of connection, which is a principle of the Hollywood film industry, is a sign of its maturity.
  • 00:20:00 The video discusses the difference between "anarchic" and "worldly" comedy and how the two strains have influenced cinema. Examples of anarchic comedy are the Marx Brothers films, while examples of worldly comedy are Ernst Lubitsch's films.
  • 00:25:00 Screwball comedy is a unique form of American movies that is derived partly from Broadway comedy of the 1920s and partly from the slapstick physical comedy of the silent era. It is characterized by its irreverent humor, fast-paced dialogue, and subversive skepticism. Two clips are shown to illustrate these points.
  • 00:30:00 The video discusses the evolution of screwball comedy, which began with full-blown slapstick and became more restrained and realistic as the years progressed. It also discusses the ways in which these films reflect the social and political tensions of the 1930s.
  • 00:35:00 The Studio Era represented a departure from the classical British theory of what an actor is, with American actors establishing themselves as different from their British counterparts. In these two clips, Barbara Stanwyck demonstrates the power of the star system by playing a radically different character in two separate screwball comedies. The first clip, from 1941's "The Lady Eve," shows Stanwyck in her early career as a strong woman who is in control of her own destiny. The second clip, from Howard Hawks' 1942 film "Ball of Fire," shows Stanwyck in her late career as a more vulnerable woman who is still in control of her own destiny, but is challenged by her characters. These two clips demonstrate the principle I spoke about earlier: that the familiar is more powerful than the completely strange and new.
  • 00:40:00 The "7. The Studio Era" video discusses how the audience's understanding of a performance has changed during the studio era. The two screwball comedies featured in the video demonstrate this change. One has a tonal difference in tone, and the other is more comedic. The difference in tone and genre indicates that the screwball comedy form has become more complex and elaborate.
  • 00:45:00 In this scene from "Ball of Fire", Gary Cooper interviews Barbara Stanwyck, who is the mistress of a mob boss. Cooper is excited by her linguistic and verbal resources and wants her to contribute to his project. Stanwyck is not interested and when she shows up at the mob boss' lair, she invades in order to hide out.
  • 00:50:00 The video discusses the Studio Era, which was a time when films were censored and had to be careful about what they showed. The main point is that films can be very funny and subversive, and can even be educational.
  • 00:55:00 This video discusses how the aesthetic of connection, familiarity, and popular culture operated in Hollywood movies during the studio era.

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