3FF3 Textbook Notes.docx

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Theatre & Film Studies
Joe Sokalski

3FF3 Textbook Notes  Hollywood in the 20’s (p. 196):  Adolf Zukor, William Fox, and Carl Laemmle=became vertically integrated monopolies, controlling their own theatre chains and distributors  Middle class audiences increasing  “New morality” in Hollywood  Industry giants of the early 20’s: “The Big Three” were Zukor’s Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, which had acquired Paramount as its distribution and exhibition wing in 1916, Loew’s Inc., the national theatre chain owned by Marcus Loew which moved into production with the acquisition of Metro Pictures in 1920, & First National founded in 1917 by 26 of the nations largest exhibitors to combat the practice of block booking(invented by Zukor) by financing its own productions  United Artists: formed in 1919 by Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W Griffith in order to produce and distribute their own films and was a major force in the industry until the advent of sound  Hollywoods second string in the 20s: “The Little 5”: Fox Film Corporation, Producers Distributing Corporation (ODC), Film Booking Office (FBO), Carl Laemmle’s Universal Pictures and Warner Bros.  1914-1918- Thomas Ince built the first modern Hollywood studio = Inceville/He tried to make his films move  Mack Sennett: another founder of silent screen comedy/Keystone Film Company/produced thousands of one and two-reel films between 1913-1935/created new genre-the slapstick comedy-the single most vital American mode of the 20s/Purely visual humour of a violent but fantastically harmless nature/logic of narrative/Depended on rapid fire editing and the “last minute rescue” as learned from Griffith, and Sennetts own accurate sense of space/genius of timing movement/unlike Ince, he produced simple story ideas to detailed shooting scripts, and he always left room in his films for madcap improvisation/Chaplin and Harry Langdon were in Keystone/sennetts conception of comedy was wed to the silent screen/visual humor loses its comedy with sound/when sound came out, his genre vanished/Keystone went bankrupt  Charlie Chaplin: Sennetts most important protégé/developed the character of the “little tramp” which made him world famous and became a universal cinematic symbol for our common humanity  Buster Keaton: Solving complicated problems of mise-en-scene/was an equal to Chaplin/1919, Schenck formed Buster Keaton Productions to produce two-reel comedy shorts starring Keaton and Chaplin/19 shorts released between 1920-1923 through Metro and First National, with Charlie’s Mutual films, the highpoint of American slapstick comedy/Unlike Sennett, Keaton had dramatic logic of his narratives and the use of gags which progress in a geometrical pattern grounded in character and plot/first feature was the 7 reel The Saphead/did not put his name on the credits/a classic Keaton device-trajectory gag-in which the perfect timing of acting, directing, and editing propels the Keaton character through an extended series of dramatically connected sight gags ending in the denouncement of a sequence or of an entire film (The Three Ages) which this film also uses long takes, sequence shots, and location shooting/Sherlock Jr (1924) is perhaps his most extradinary feature length work (directed and edited by Keaton)/It mixed documaentary footage of real events with footage of dramatically staged events/played small parts in talkies/Keaton had a stronger sense of narrative structure and mise-en-scene than Chaplin/had a “great stone face” that expressed what he couldn’t with his body/best understood how dreamlike and surrell is the process of film itself  Harold Lloyd: developed his character into an archetype of Anerican “normalcy” and niceness/wore glasses/specialized in the “comedy of thrills”=placed himself in real psyscial danger for laughs/Safety Last (movie with guy climbing building)/He neither had the intellectual deoth of Keaton nor the emotional depth of Chaplin  Laurel & Hardy films: had some kind of structural logic whereby a single misbegotten incident would be progressively multipled toward some catastrophic infinity  Harry Langdon: developed the haunting character of the middle aged innocent whose pathetic naivete was somewhat remincent of Chaplin with his dignity  Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle: became Sennetts principle star after Chaplin departure for Essanay/comic appeal rested on his fatness and childishness/murdered a starlet/  Will Hays: MPPDA  Cecil B. Demille: most representative of the “new morality”/early films expressed “Rembrandt” or “Lasky” lighting and vivid mise-en-scene  Ernst Lubitsch: Kostumfilm/pioneered the functional use of décor to avoid titles and became a master of sexual innuendo/all of Hollywood spoke of the “Lubitsch touch”- the use of symbolic detail, such as a meaningful glance or gesture, or the closing of a bedroom door, to suggests exual activity which could not have been depicted with impunity upon the screen/brought a touch of Continental elegance and irony to Hollywood in the 20s which was widely imitated by other directors  DEFINITIONS:  Aerial shot: a shot from above, usually made from a plane, helicopter, or crane (crane shot)  Anamorphic lens: a lens that squeezes a wide image to fir the dimensions of a standard 35mm film frame  Audion: Lee De Forest’s vacuum tube, which first permitted amplification of audio signals for large audiences  Biopic: A biographical film, especially the kind produced by Warner Bros in the 30s and 40s  Block Booking: The practice whereby distributors forced exhibitors to rent a production company’s films in large groups or, “blocks” tied to several desirable titles in advance of production. Initiated by Adolph Zukor in 1916, block booking became fundamental to the studio system monopoly and was ruled illegal by the U.S Supreme Court in 1948
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