Hollywood films, as opposed to art films or some types of foreign films, embrace a narrative that is highly efficient and that is determined by cause and effect. For example,
The opening of a film typically plunges us_ _into an immediate understanding of an individual character. While natural causes, like floods and earthquakes, or societal causes, such as wars or strikes, might prod the character in a certain direction or serve as a backdrop, the narrative inevitably centers on the individual's choices.
This swift movement toward resolution of the conflict has been made efficiently in what is often referred to as the three-act structure. As celebrated screenwriter Ernest Lehman put it more clearly,
“In the first act, it's who are the people and what is the situation of this whole story. The second act is the progression of that situation to a high point of conflict. And the third act is how the conflicts and problems are resolved.”
Though modern films frequently depart from the continuity style, this style remains a baseline standard of effective visual storytelling. During the classical Hollywood era, each studio was known for a certain genre of film or a particular roster of stars. Spencer Tracy, Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin were some of the well-known performers that emerged during this period.
Comic films began to appear in significant numbers during the era of silent films in roughly 1895 to 1930. The visual humor of these silent films relied on slapstick. A very early comedy short was Watering the Gardener (1895) by the Lumière brothers. In American film, the most prominent comic actors of the silent era were Charlie Chaplin.
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