Hollywood is a district in Los Angeles, California, United States located west-northwest of downtown Los Angeles. According to a2zcamerablog, the name is associated with the headquarters of the American film industry.
A curious twist produced by the patent war, resulted in the creation of this city as the mecca of North American cinema. The story begins when in 1913 Jesse Lasky and Sam Goldfish had decided to make film production. They chose as a project the adaptation of a play “The Squaw Man” premiered on Broadway in 1905, bought the rights for $ 4,000.
They summoned the stage actor Dustin Farnum as the main character, they obtained the collaboration of Cecil B. DeMille, who until then had never seen a camera. With $ 15,000 in capital filming would begin in New Jersey, but then they changed plans to avoid the trust inspectors that were plentiful on the East Coast.
They decided to travel west to Flagstaff, Arizona, a small town Lasky had visited on vacation. They traveled by train, in addition to the producers and actors were DeMille, cameraman Albert Gandolfi, supervisor Oscar Apfel and assistant Fred Kley. However, they did not stop at Flagstaff, they did not like the site and decided to continue their trip to Los Angeles. There they rented a barn from farmer Jacob Stern for $ 75 a month and set up a precarious parentage study. The cost of production increased to $ 47,000 but Goldfish raised new capital in New York.
During the filming DeMille noticed that the material (celluloid) was very flammable so he recommended to make a backup. With the finished film it took them weeks to realize that the perforations in the celluloid were not suitable with the projectors so they had to modify them manually. Finally, and with six cuts in the screening, the film was premiered at the Longacre Theater on Broadway, on February 17, 1914.
From there began the dual command regime between 2 cities New York and Hollywood, separated by 3 days of train travel. Production was established in Hollywood with large studios, real estate investments, infrastructure, operators, salaries, etc. On the other hand New York was the administrative and financial center of the industry, base of the export of the films, publicity, or deals with the government.
New York was always the superior authority, deciding the launch or production of a certain film, but also the veto or approval of projects or the dismissal of a star or director. This scheme was maintained for decades. This was also influenced by the power of the banks in the East, which partially financed the cinema, monitored investment, examined collections, filming projects, future income, etc. One of the main banks to finance the industry was the Giannini brothers’ Bank of Italy.
The exhibitors began to have more and more power, some began to buy theaters, build others and establish chains of rooms that covered the entire country. Among them the Loew’s group from New York that owns the majority of MGM’s shares, there were also the Stanley chains of Philadelphia and Washington, Balaban & Katz of Chicago, the Saxe brothers of Milwaukee, Finkelstein & Runin of Minneapolis, North American from San Francisco and Seattle and the West Coast of Los Angeles. They built real palaces including the Strand, Rialto, Rivoli, Capitol, Roíz and the Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
The North American model of distribution and exhibition was copied by France, England and Italy. In many cases, North American capital was invested in the creation of movie theaters abroad to promote the cinema of that country as ambassadors, in fact it is common to see theaters with names such as Paramount, Metro or Roxy. This investment was an obvious way to secure showing dates and deadlines for American films abroad.
The extension of the network of cinemas had a natural difficulty with the arrival of the talkies, which implied additional equipment for each theater. Tremendous investments demanded tremendous collections so the exhibitors began to pressure the producers. All this structure would not be profitable with a few films per year. The expansion of film production was both a cause and a consequence of the growth of distribution networks.
To feed the chains of cinemas a certain diagram or annual production plan was made that reached dozens of titles. From this derived the practice of “Block-booking” or sale by packages or lots, devised by Paramount in the hands of Adolph Zukor. This tactic consisted in that if a theater wanted to acquire the rights to the films of a certain star (Fairbanks, Valentino, Pickford) it had to acquire another 10, 20 or 30 additional titles from the same production company.
This also helped to remove dates and places of exhibition for the titles of the competition. In fact, each room or chain had to award in advance the 52 weeks of the year, for example 20 for Fox, 10 for Paramount, 15 for Warner, and knowing that a few meters from the room would be the competitor with the exclusivities of Universal or MGM, so there is then no place for independent films.
In foreign markets there was such a penetration of Hollywood cinema that this controversy continues to this day. Theaters cannot do without these global agreements for blockbusters, surely they could not survive, but on the other hand local producers do not have enough space for their own titles or are relegated to inappropriate dates or places.
This produces an almost identical crisis in film-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Argentina or Brazil. On the other hand, markets that do not have their own production, such as a large part of Asia, Africa or Central America, are totally absorbed by North American cinema.
The Star system
The Hollywood star system was born in the 10s as a result of the conflict between the MPPC and the independents, who to promote the films took advantage of the public’s interest in certain actors or actresses, while the trust companies avoided making the names of their protagonists famous to avoid eventual requests for a salary increase.
The star system reached splendor between the 20s and 30s with the arrival of talkies. Almost all the stars of the period from Fatty Arbuckle to Gloria Swanson, Harold Lloyd or Pola Negri, Norma Talmadge will try the foray into the independent medium, in fact in 1919 they decided to create the United Artist, producer and distributor owned by the actors, by On the other hand, to fight against the divism of the stars, the producers will create the All-star products, which do not use famous actors and that they promoted using the prestige of the director and the interest of the plot.
However, the arrival of the talkies caused the retirement of the main divos of silent films and introduced the arrival of a whole new generation of actors from the theater, who would end up turning power back into the hands of the producers. Female figures emerge that take advantage of physical beauty to attract the audience, motorcycle acrobats, magicians, sports champions or athletes, who are seduced into making productions. Such is the case of Charles Hutchinson, Jack Dempsey, Harry Houdini, Eddie Polo among others.
In addition to the western and the serial we have the so-called cream pie comedies, the appearance of stars who repeat different roles in different films such as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd or Harry Langdon. The stars had to possess certain physical and moral qualities to provoke the idealization process that divism requires. There could be no ugly, shy, talkative or ridiculous heroes, they are the opposite of heroes.
There were also comedians like Charles Chaplin whose public appearances drew crowds. Greta Garbo becomes the only star imported from Europe, born in Sweden is discovered by the director Maurice Stiller, the long career even exceeds the maximum splendor after the arrival of the talkies. Then came the “flappers, emancipated girls from post-war America, representatives of the new generation of jazz and prohibitionism that reject the old models of virginal innocence.
Clara Bow is the most famous flapper in cinema but Colleen Moore is the diva who introduced this new female model. Finally, one cannot fail to mention Marlene Dietrich from 1930 onwards, exploiting the figure of a fatal woman.
The evolution of male divism with the arrival of the talkies can be described as the passage from action and adventure heroes, bastions of national values and a model of identification and projection for men, to the heroes of passion and eroticism, object of desire of the feminine public, the Latin lovers with Rodolfo Valentino or Douglas Fairbanks to the head.
This marks an important change in the Hollywood discourse on femininity and sexuality, corresponding to a transformation of cultural and social values, the man begins to play a role as an erotic object for the female audience.
The rise of the director
When producers start to look favorably on any element that is a guarantee of box office success, the figure of the director grows, the man behind the camera. In 1916, with the premiere of “Intolerance”, the figure of David W. Griffith emerged, who became the famous character at the height of the stars of the performance. The name has such an impact on the public that it can be used to promote a film.
Cecil can also be added in that category. B. DeMille, whose merit is to make films that respond to the taste of the bulk of the public. The most emblematic case of Hollywood is undoubtedly Erich Von Stroheim, born in Austria had made his apprenticeship as a director together with Griffith as an actor and as an assistant director.
This alleged former Prussian military man shows in films an interest in the extreme (conjugal betrayals, brutal or dark aspects) with which the bulk of the public was not accustomed, who became more familiar with DeMille’s innocent stories. The figure of Stroheim became memorable for confrontations with the divos of the time like Gloria Swanson or John Gilbert.
He always made public dislike for the high contracts of the stars, more if they meant restrictions on the budget for the director, one of the most famous works is “Greed” whose deleted fragments are still being sought by the whole world.
King Vidor said that cinema carries a message to humanity and promised to never show what is bad or wrong, however despite such a declaration of principles he had to give in to the pressure of the Hollywood system. Vidor was a patient and thoughtful director, never losing his cool on set, yet he possessed a firm character and stubbornly pursued goals.
He is one of the most respected and admired directors in Hollywood, Vidor managed to survive the sound revolution and extended his career until the threshold of the 60s, just as Lubitsch, Sternberg, Borzage, Wellman or Raoul Walsh belongs to the category of directors destined to pass the talk test unscathed and see their popularity rise in the 1930s.
The letters on the sign (which are over thirteen meters high) were located by a real estate company that intended to sell that land. The idea came from the wife of a property developer.
The name comes from the English words “holly” (holly) and “wood” (forest), but at first it said “Hollywoodland”.
Years later the film industry turned it into a world-famous poster, recognized as an icon of stars and cinema. After the bankruptcy of the real estate company, the sign had changes, removing the last letters and leaving only “Hollywood”.
Today it is still being maintained and painted to make it look this good. However, it also has a dark side. The actress Peg Entwistle climbed to the letter “H” and jumped into the abyss, committing suicide and leaving one of the saddest stories on the poster.