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Chapter 10

FILM 2401 Chapter 10.docx

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FILM 2401
Kispal- Kovacs Kovacs

FILM 2401- STUDY NOTES Chapter10- Hollywood’sDecline (1945-1970)  Movie attendance reachedit’speakedafter WWII.  In 1946, weekly movie attendance in the US peaked at 90 million, but shortly after, attendance droppedprecipitously.  By 1956, the average weekly attendance was what half of what it was ten years ago. It continuedtofalleven furtheruntilitbottomedoutin the late 1960s. ConsumerismAfter theWar  US wasstillaffected bythe war,even though notasdevastatingasother nations.Some of the more obvious effects of this “total war” were the changes that took place in the economy.  Consumer goods became scarce because all the factories went into making products that couldbe usedin thewar.  Labor shortages caused by the enlistment of so many men and women into the armed services led to significant wage increases for those who remained to build the equipment necessary for victory. 15 million American served in the military during WWII.Itwasthisfactthat ledtoamajorrestructuringoftheeconomy.  Those that remained behind had little else to spend on other than basic necessities. Another place theycan spendtheir moneyonwasgoing tothemovies.  American movie industry was one of the few industries that weren’t adversely affected bythetransformation ofthe economy.  US government wanted the industry to produce more movies to help convince Americans of the necessity of fighting the war. Also they wanted a place for Americans tohave aplace togoandforget abouttheir troublesandworries.  In some cities, movie houses operated around the clock so that shift works could go to themoviesafter work.  After the war ended, the demand for movies began to disappear. Factories were converted back to the production of consumer goods. Absence of these goods had a tremendous pent-up demand and going to the movies was not the only place where theycouldspendtheir money. The RiseofSuburbia  Housing shortages in many of the major cities across the country led many developers tobuildtractsofnew houseson theoutskirtsofthemajorcities.  The creation of an interstate highway system and the construction of other freeways linking the city with these new “suburbs” made moving to these new communities attractive tomanycitydwellers.  20-year period after the war saw a significant migration of people from the older cities tothenewercommunities.  The American movie industry suffered from this because they had invested a significant amount of capital in building large and elaborate movie theatres in the cities. Eventually, the movie industry built movie theatres in the suburbs, particularly in the new mallsthat began popping up allover suburbia.  They also began building drive-in theaters to cater to the car culture that suburban living fostered. Unfortunately these developments were not enough numbers to stop theoveralldecline in attendance. The BabyBoom  The Baby Boom (1946-1964)was the period in whichAmericans experienced faster rate ofnaturalgrowth totheir population in historytothatpoint.  Parents with young children generally had a harder time getting out. They often had to hireababysitter.  The costs of going to movies were also another factor because if the suburb didn’t have any theatres, they would have to drive downtown and this means they would have to payfor moregasandparking expenses. LegalProblems—The ParamountDecision (1948)  Many complaints from independent movie exhibitors complained about practices such as block booking and holding back releases until they finished their runs in theatres ownedbytheBig Five.  Courtcaseslaunchedagainstthemajorstudiosin thelate 1930swere eventuallysettled when the Big Five and Little Three (producer-distributor companies) signed a consent decree in 1940. They “agreed to eliminate blind-booking, limit block-booking and curtailfurtheracquisition oftheaters”.  In 1944, unsatisfied that the results of the 1940 agreement did little to curtail the power of major studios, the Justice Department renewed its suit against the majors. This case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1948, the court found the major companies were still in violation of anti-trust law. A subsequent lower court decision (in 1949) ordered the majors to divest themselves of ownership or controlofallfirstrun movie theatres.By1954allofthemhadcomplied.  This ended the vertical integration of the movie industry and contributed to a decline in theprofitabilityofthemajormovie companies.  This created a more competitive environment for movie theatre owners but this led to an increase in the price of tickets at the box office, as they had to compete with each other to get the best first run movies. This led to a decline in attendance by audience memberswith lowerincomes. McCarthyismandThe Black List  The Cold War had a huge impact on politics in the US. Just about every politician in both major parties tried to outdo his rivals in demonstrating “anti-Communist” credentials.  Joseph McCarthy was a congressmen whose hearings into the alleged Communist infiltration of the State Department and later the Army gave him a high profile in the post war media. Congressional investigations have become generally known in the historyofthisperiodas“McCarthyism.”  Before WWII, in 1941, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) began investigating some of the people in the movie industry for their “premature anti- fascism.”  In 1947, HUAC was reconvened under Chairman J. Parnell Thomas to investigate ongoing concerns about Communist influence in Hollywood. This investigation was motivated by a number of factors. A minority of Hollywood workers and artists, particularly writers, joined the American Communist Party during the Depression or during the war; the Roosevelt administration had asked Hollywood to make some pro- Russian movies during the war to promote good relations with their ally and Hollywood had complied; and then there was the fact the widespread labour unrest that swept Hollywoodimmediatelyaf
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