Classic Hollywood Cinema Era

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The Classical Hollywood Cinema era took place after the silent cinema era. This was roughly between the late 1920s and 1960s. The start of this “Golden Age of Hollywood,” began with the film, The Jazz Singer, which was released in 1927. It was the first movie to have used synchronized voices as a vitaphone talkie. This was how they brought sound into the films. Unfortunately, the vitaphone ended up putting the silent film actors out of work, eventually putting an end to the silent cinema era. After The Jazz Singer was released, box-office sales increased due to the introduction of sound, presenting a new feature to the cinematic experience that would forever pervade the art of moviemaking.

The classical Hollywood cinema era was kindled by the period in which codes of cinematic storytelling were established. This was when the studio system was created. The studio system entailed the production, editing, and the distribution of films. It is the practice of large motion picture studios that produce Hollywood movies. Hollywood filmmakers produce movies mostly through their own directing, utilizing the work of many long-term employees (such as: actors, producers, directors, writers, stunt men, craftspersons, and technicians) that often are held under long-term contracts. The studio system can also pursue vertical integration through ownership, effective control of film distributors, and contracting with movie theaters. This way it will guarantee additional sales of films in post-production by manipulating different booking techniques. The Motion Picture Association of America group (also known as the MPDDA), was established in 1930, although it was not enforced until 1934. It was one of the major preoccupations of filmmaking that took place during the classical Hollywood era. The MPDDA was a code that pursued censorship guidelines after government threats. For example, in the book, An Introduction in Film Studies the production code stated that “When there was depiction of crime, producers were not allowed to include scenes on how to commit a crime, inspire the audience to imitate the crime, or make criminals seem heroic or justified” (Nelmes p 43-44). Other things that were not seen as ethical in the production code were things such as bad language, interracial couples, sexual dancing, etc. If films did not attain approval from the Production Code Administration, they had to pay a fine of$250,000 and were not able to receive any profit in the theaters. This was due to the fact that the MPDDA controlled all of the theaters in the country through the major film studios.

Some of the most popular genres that evolved during the peak of the classical Hollywood era were: westerns, gangster films, musicals, screwball comedies, and melodramas, among others. Westerns are one of the oldest genres of film. In these films, generally you would see the cowboy-hero, the comparatively civilized rancher or lawman, the prostitute with the heart of gold, the settler wife, the sheriff (good or bad), a cultivated Easterner, and a Native American (Altman 34). For example, in The Searchers, directed by John Ford (1956), the plot depicts a classic western storyline of a Cowboy and an Indian. A Civil War veteran returns to Texas in hopes of finding a home for his family. He then undergoes a years-long journey in hopes of finding, or possibly avenging the death of, his niece that was kidnapped by the Indians. Westerns are popular because audiences can identify with the desire to have a dangerous-but-secure lifestyle like the characters do in the Western films. Audiences can relate to the good and evil forces of the world, and the western is one of the most effective genres at creating this juxtaposition, and the plots that ensue. Audiences are also captivated by the central conflict between civilization and savagery, and because of this ability to identify with the genre; the western set itself as an everlasting genre....
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