Hollywood: General; Studio System; New American Cinema

Hollywood is not a place, but an atmosphere.

A generic term that the outside world insisted on attaching to the American cinema at large.

Whatever you were doing elsewhere in the world, you could do bigger, better, faster, and more conveniently in Hollywood.

Kael: What gave Holly movie its vitality and distinctive flavor was the “feel” of time and place came through, and to attitudes, problems, and tensions.

Sometimes more of American life came thru routine thrillers, prison dramas, comedies than in important “serious” art films like Best Years of Our Lives of Place in te Sun, paralyzed , self-conscious imitations of European art films

Holly as a total system/institution was always multi-faceted creature.

The question is: which of its faces is the most significant in understanding the evolution of the system(Murray Smith)

When Zanuck asked Moss Hart to adapt Gentleman’s Agreement, he said; “Hollywood is too comfortable, too luxurious for mental stimulus.”

Studio System:

Alan Spiegel: Billy Wilder, Orson Welles,  were among the first  of their generation to resuscitate the mordant bittersweet and Teutonic darkness of what might be called the  Adversary Tradition of hr Stroheim, Sternberg, Lang minority line of Amer filmmaking against the Sentimental Idealism of what migt be called Grigffith, Chaplin, Ford, Capra

Wilder, like Sturges, Huston, began to work as writers of highly literate films

Kolker: Studio Vs, Innovation

The studio system, raised for the “genius” of its efficiency by Bazin, not for its art.

The occasional stylistic and personal inflections (touches) that appeared in some of the works were a result of the freedom the studio system offered.

The sheer volume of films made permitted little room for individual experimentation or variations from the basic patterns

The studios were place of support and security (contract, weekly pay)

Self-containment and mass production

Mediocrity as well as arrogance

Confidence and self-sufficiency

Collective rather than individual energy

Continuity of genres, plots, actors, themes, world views

Hearings of HUAC made producers fearful, timid and uncertain:

What kinds of contents might be branded subversive?

What kind of person would be labeled un-American

Self-imposed black list

Uncertain as to what they could say in the film, how they would say it, and to whom they could say


Genre movies are the model with interchangeable parts.

New Hollywood–1980s



Summer Movies as Political allegories

Batman Begins, Revenge f Sith, Land of the Dead

Big summer movies as political allegories of our contempo political landscape

Sincere or cynical, authentic expressions of defiance or just empty posturing, it’s remarkable that popcorn movies  have gone where few Amer indies outside of docus have dared to go.

New Hollywood:

After Rocky and Stars Wars, late 70s and 1980s:

Marginally commercial but innovative directors:

Bogdanovich, Rafelson, Friedkin, Ashby Coppola, Schrader, Scorsese

The New Holly ability to rehabilitate even the most primitive genrs:

Bonnie and Clyde, a gangster movie, chase em up, shoot em up, love on the run

Movie Gaze Vs. TV Glance

Most movies are watched on TV.

In Cinema, it’s the gaze, an intensity of rapt attention

In TV, it’s the glance, a less sustained mode of attention

For Ellis,  this has consequ for  the kind of programming

High degree of audience attention lead to the production of tightly organized narratives in cinema (encouraging voyeurism, fetishism, drawn from psychanalytic theory)

TV programming aims at less attentive audience, tends to use open-ended, ongoing formats, divided into relatively short segments that are only loosely connected.