I have decided to follow up on my recent articles about the 1960s and 1970s with doing something similar about the period of 1930 to 1945, i.e. from when the transfer to sound was complete and until the end of the war. It feels like a proper demarcation as the late 1940s was such a tumultuous time in which the business model changed drastically. Some scholars, myself included, thinks that the late 1940s is more deserving of the term "New Hollywood" than the late 1960s, but I would prefer if we did not use that expression at all. It has the same problem as the expression "golden age," something vague and subjective enough for it to have been used for almost any period of filmmaking.
I have written about the 1930s before (below are links to some of those pieces), and there I argued that the 1930s is yet another of those periods that are misunderstood and unknown, However, this is more understandable since, unlike the 1960s/1970s, it is not as researched and it is more difficult to work with because facts and figures are harder to come by. It is less documented, and scholars have shown less interest in it. Yet it was as exciting a time in Hollywood as any other.
What I have done so far is collecting box office figures, as far as I can, and other statistics, giving me some 250 titles to work with. I have a series of questions that I want to find the answers too, such as which studios were the most successful at the box office, and which were the most prestigious ones. A taste: of the 164 films that made the top ten box office list of each year from 1930 to 1945, 62 were made by MGM. (It was 164 and not 160 because some years two films shared a place on the list.) Which genres were most popular and how did that evolve over time? Which directors were the most successful, and the most acclaimed? What about stars? Another glimpse: in the early 1930s, films with Marie Dressler, sometimes paired with Wallace Beery, were gold at the box office.
About 1930s cinema in general
About Howard Hawks and poetic realism
About Tay Garnett
About W.S. Van Dyke and Myrna Loy
About Victor Fleming and Test Pilot (1938)
About the book The Collaboration by Ben Urwand
About John Ford's films of the 1930s
About Henry Koster at Universal Studios.
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