COMM 546 Lecture 5 - Beneath The Moguls' Yoke

COMM 546 Lecture 5 - Beneath The Moguls' Yoke - Dana Coen...

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Dana Coen COMM 546 (History of American Screenwriting) Spring, 2010 Lecture #5 BENEATH THE MOGULS’ YOKE Recap …. The 20s roar…. The market soar…. And jazz music defines an aggressive, freewheeling business environment in which Hollywood studios look to control everything. …Including the writing. Samuel Goldwyn’s faith in literary writing talent is unrewarded. But New York’s Algonquin Round Table breeds a type of witty writer that will eventually make the trip west. Herman Mankiewicz is among the first to succeed. He is followed by Ben Hecht and others. Hecht launches what will become one of the most successful screenwriting careers of all time. The Studios react to the increasing presence of censorship by creating the MPPDA (Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association). They hire Republican Will Hays to keep the dogs at bay.
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2 Meanwhile, as silent films reach their artistic peak. ... ...sound technology emerges. ... The Jazz Singer and “New York City Lights” premiere…. …and all bets are off. There’s a change in expectations. Only words can bring audiences into the theatres now. If they can afford a ticket! Because we are at the beginning of the Great Depression. Show photo of breadline. Present …. American citizens who can’t find work are forced to stand in bread lines. Everything is about to change. When the stock market crashes in ’29. …the silent film industry follows . Reels of new silent product are abandoned or dumped on the market. Others are revamped and altered. Bits of dialogue are added….
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3 …mostly exclamations like, “Oh, My God!” Some like producer Howard Hughes start from scratch. His flyboy epic “Hell’s Angels” is re-conceived as a sound film. But its story is rooted in silent film construction and it loses millions. Actors struggle…. ...trying not to gesticulate…. …or bug their eyes. Mary Pickford can’t relate to her new screen identity. Clara Bow’s Brooklyn accent doesn’t match her vamp image. And John Gilbert’s high-pitched squeak makes audience’s laugh. Comedy actors and producers such as Mack Sennet, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd…begin to fade into the shadows. Chaplin will go on to make only two more well-regarded films in the 30s. But “City Lights” and “Modern Times” are silent. ... …homages to what he’s lost. Screenwriters, themselves , are adjusting. Early “talkies” are talky.
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4 Now freed from the constraints of titles, writers tend to overwrite. Early dialogue is unwieldy and filled with long speeches. But by the early to mid-30s, the mix of dialogue and visuals begins to resemble the kinds of films we see today. This week’s film is 1934’s “It Happened One Night.” It’s a good marker for how the well-made play developments of the previous one hundred years…. …support a film’s visual potential to create what we now
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This document was uploaded on 10/28/2011 for the course COMM 546 at UNC.

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COMM 546 Lecture 5 - Beneath The Moguls' Yoke - Dana Coen...

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