Dave: Fancy watching a film?
Samantha: Sure, why not.
Dave: Ok. What are you in the mood for? Action? Comedy? Horror? A terrible, girly rom-com?
Samantha: How about something older? You know, I haven’t got around to watching ‘Casablanca’ yet.
Dave: You’ve never seen Casablanca? Really? What have you been doing with your life?
Samantha: Is it any good?
Dave: It’s a classic. “Lois, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…”
Samantha: Please don’t quote the movie before I’ve seen it.
Philip: I’m thinking of taking Anna out for our anniversary. You know, a little dinner, take in a movie. Is there anything good on at the cinema?
Pete: There’s that new action movie, starring Arnie, but I don’t think that is Anna’s cup of tea. Oh, and a remake of some Japanese horror movie, although maybe you were thinking of something more romantic.
Philip: I don’t know: Anna likes a good horror movie. She isn’t your usual chick-flick girl.
Pete: There’s also the new 007, if you’re into spy films.
Philip: I am, but she prefers the old James Bond. She says the new ones are a bit stupid.
Pete: Well, I saw it last week and thought it was OK. What about animation? Does she like that? Because there’s a new Pixar movie that got good reviews.
Philip: Yeah, I guess we could see that. It’s either that or the horror. I suppose we’ll check the screening times and take it from there.
Yesterday was a rather grey, overcast day so Anna and I decided to stay in and put on a movie (we hadn’t watched one for a long time because we usually just work our way through a boxset). Of course, choosing is the hardest part; generally I like something for which I can switch off my brain, whilst Anna prefers the classics. In the end we compromised and put on ‘The Usual Suspects’ – I’ve seen it maybe half a dozen times, but never get tired of it – and spent a couple of hours vegging out, stuffing our faces with popcorn, and watching a great piece of cinema.
Many people deem the time between the World Wars as the beginning of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Era’, when silent movies were replaced by ‘the talkies’ and American cinema began its ascent to be the biggest film industry in the world. This golden era – during which movies were synonymous with big studios, huge productions, famous stars and classic stories – would last until the 1960s.
Students of film history often cite the ‘Hollywood Studio System’ as the reason for its success, and talk of ‘The Big 5’ studios in particular: MGM, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and RKO. Three other studios – Universal, United Artists, and Colombia Pictures – were also prominent. These studios held a lot more power then than they do now; as well as making the movies on their property, the studios also signed the writers and actors, and even owned many of the theatres and cinemas. They would also force independent theatres into showing more of their movies by selling a package of films, rather than just one. This meant that even low or medium-budget movies were guaranteed to be shown in cinemas.
The studio system was eventually ended by the US Supreme Court who, in 1948, ruled that forcing independent theatres to buy packages of movies was illegal. The studios began to lose their control over the film industry as more movies began to receive no screenings, and the demise of RKO in the 1950s is often seen as the beginning of the end.