Then Hollywood Star System And Its Importance To Society

2286 words - 9 pages

Hollywood Essay Shane Gladstone"What was the significance of stars to the Hollywood film industry? What was the basis of audience attraction to them? Illustrate your answer with reference to particular stars"IntroductionSchools and churches are institutions in society where priests and teachers act as spokespersons to spread a certain set of attitudes, beliefs and values. Similarly, Hollywood is also a very powerful modern day institution, where a stars image can re-appropriate shape and circulate societal myths and ideologies. This above-mentioned process is what I intend to analyse and discuss throughout the content of this essay. I hope to show examples of how film stars during the classical Hollywood era became in some places more important than the narrative vehicles within which they were starring.Consequently, through the answering of these questions I will provide a detailed account of the importance to and effect on everyday society these 'stars' had. Within this analysis I will make reference to the film star Marlene Dietrich as a reinforcement of the opinions I offer through my discussion.The Hollywood Studio SystemBefore I can discuss the underlying issues of the question I firstly need to explain the development and rise of the system which determined its possibility.Three companies had by the mid 1920's firmly established themselves within the area of film exhibition. Paramount gained the most control during this period. Between 1919, when it floated a $10million of preferred stock, and 1921 Paramount had succeeded in building up an empire which had the foremost production, distribution and exhibition capacity. "Paramount made better films, there was nothing in the Mayer-Thalberg inventory that could compare with Lubitsch's trouble in paradise, or the early Marx Bros or early Mae West" (Charyn:74) However it was MGM who were in control of the vast proportion of the acting talent of the period as shown in the following quote regarding MGM partner Louis B Mayer "He thrived with his stars, he had 250 contract players in 1935, and the other studios had to make deals with L.B if they wanted to borrow Gable or Harlow" (Charyn:74) Paramount also faced competition from First-National, which had been formed by a group of exhibitors who identified the need to become stakeholders in the production side in order to ensure supply of product. By the middle of the decade practically all of the major and first-run theatres in America were being run by one of the above groupings. Fox and Universal also had theatres but did not at the time pose a threat to the domination of the sector by the big three. In this way the majors had the market tied up. Independent producers could not access the theatres and independent exhibitors could not gain access to product in order to exhibit. The above facts created a somewhat linear style of economically driven market where it was only possible for one main genre of film to survive, that of the big budget...

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