With the debut of the new series produced by Ryan Murphy for Netflix, entitled, many doubts arose about what would ultimately be the Hollywood Golden Age, central theme of the plot.
The Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema comprises the 1920s to the 1960s, from its beginning to its decline, having its peak in the 1940s, post-World War II.
To understand not only the success of Hollywood cinema, which continues today as one of the most profitable industries in the country, but also the whole idea that we have of what Hollywood cinema itself is, it is necessary to understand its emergence.
The production of filming has been going on since the beginning of the century with the invention and commercialization of the Thomas Edison machine, which made it possible to capture moving images. The technology was being developed and improved, moving from small sequences of images seen in a device called a kinetoscope, to feature films and movie theaters as we know them.
The emergence of cinema as a space was a major cultural change that impacted the relationship between human beings and the world, and soon became also a competitive market, since producers now competed for the public.
Until that moment in history, film production was concentrated on the east coast, as then Hollywood appeared on the other side of the country? Pioneer David Llewelyn Wark Griffith was responsible for producing, the first film shot in what would become Hollywood.
The news of the state of California as a varied landscape environment and a place not yet monopolized by Edison has spread, which has attracted independent producers to the West.
Producers and their film studios played a key role in the rise of Hollywood cinema and its consolidation. Paramount, Fox and Columbia Picture were some of the studios that emerged at that time, which established new market dynamics, such as long-term contracts with actors, millionaire salaries, film credit schemes and others.
It was also at that time that names like Charles Chaplin and Mary Pickford emerged, who, in 1919, created an independent studio. The cinema was still silent and, chronologically, we are still in the mid-1910s and 1920s. By 1920, Hollywood already produced most of the films in the world.
The first spoken film, was released in 1927 and had its premiere in New York. The film made by Warner revolutionized the way of making cinema, enchanted the public with the new technology of synchronization between sound and image and forced the competing studios to also adhere to this novelty.
MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) has existed since 1924, as does its trademark: the lion. In 1928, for the first time, the sound of the roaring lion was added to the films, which amazed audiences and symbolically marked the success of spoken cinema, a crucial turning point for the pinnacle of Hollywood cinema a few years later.
Code of ethics
In the 1930s, in an attempt to maintain Hollywood’s credibility in the face of a largely conservative and religious population, which protested an allegedly increasing promiscuity in films, the Hays Code was established. This code dictated which themes could not be addressed in the films, and required that productions obtain a certificate of approval before going to the cinema, which resulted in the removal of scenes and cuts in various productions.
The Hays Code also impacted the lives of Hollywood actors, because the studios looked for actors who maintained a good image and did not become negative headlines in newspapers. The producers’ influence in the lives of the actors aimed to maintain the ideals projected on the celebrities and, consequently, to maintain their base of admirers and fans, who consumed their films.
1940: World War II
During World War II, Hollywood played an important role, invested in patriotic-themed films and had actors enlist in the army and encouraging young people to do the same. Seen as the height of the Golden Age, the 1940s had the premiere of films that are still renowned, such as, and.
But also, Hollywood was important for the American population to have an outlet for everything that was happening, at that time, the studios invested in the production of musical comedies, a genre that attracted and pleased the public.
In 1949, a federal determination, the Anti Trust-ACT, initiated what would be the fall of the Hollywood Golden Age, from that moment, the studios could no longer own the movie theaters (as it happened), giving a point turning point in the public and competition dispute in the film industry.
1950: Hollywood stars
It was during the 1950s that a great figure of cinema was consolidated, Marilyn Monroe premiered her first film as a featured character, entitled. Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Bridget Bardot were also outstanding actresses of the decade.
Musicals also reach their peak, the debut of , the masterpiece of the genre takes place in 1952, the world watches, for the first time, what would be one of the most emblematic films of all time. It is also in this period that director Alfred Hitckock consolidates himself in Hollywood as the “master of suspense” and launches the masterpieces and.
However, the economic impacts of the Anti Trust-Act Act caused the studios to cut contracts and decrease the number of employees, starting to hire teams per production. In addition, the popularization of television in the United States caused the cinema to restructure itself to share space with television productions. It was the decline of the Hollywood Golden Age.
1960: The end of the Golden Age
In the 1960s, the Hays Code no longer had credibility; actors, directors and producers were looking for new ways to make cinema. It was at that time that films like and, it was the new Hollywood taking shape.
Everything we know today about Hollywood, the great productions, the movie stars, the awards and the glamor, came from the Golden Age, which consolidated Hollywood as the capital of cinema and the dream of many of those who work with audiovisual until nowadays.