Hollywood star system

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Hollywood star system

Unread post by ebaillargeon82 » Sat Mar 10, 2018 1:39 pm

Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and others were known as MGM’s stars. Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gloria Grahame, Jane Greer, Irene Dunne, Richard Dix, Ann Harding, Wheeler and Woolsey, Robert Mitchum, Tim Holt, and Robert Ryan were known as RKO’s stars. Was it easier being an actor during the golden age of Hollywood than it is today?

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Re: Hollywood star system

Unread post by sepiatone » Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:19 pm

It's a subjective question. Probably best answered by someone who was there but so many are gone now but they left interviews. Just to rundown from what I've read over the years, a performer signed with a big studio (a contract) and that studio sort of dictated to the performer even as far as morality and how you should act before the public. This was not always successful as you can't really tell grown people how to conduct themselves. Contracts usually were about 7 years but that's not a golden rule. Some performers had no problem with the dictatorial stance of the studio system, others wanted change or at least more independence. Most agree the studio system began to change(not completely disintegrated) when the Paramount vs. United States trial and it's aftermath broke up studios owning theaters or in the case of MGM the exact opposite the theater chain(Loews) owning MGM. Stars like Burt Lancaster and James Stewart championed being independent producers, others like Mickey Rooney felt more security in the classic studio system.

Even in the silent era there was a modicum of independent directors and even stars. Gloria Swanson turned down over half a million dollars to re-sign with Paramount in the 1920s to branch out on her own as a producer, and then found out how difficult it was to produce and be performer. Star director Cecil DeMille had left Paramount, a company he helped start and foster , to produce on his own and returned in the early 1930s. Many stars in the silents had a good situation of compromise producing their own material and then entering an arrangement with a big studio to distribute. So in the early or Golden Era everything was concentrated into getting people in the theaters where the profit was made. Many performers lament the loss of the old days where the stars had better security as opposed to the period after the 1950s where it started to be more fragmented.
Even stuntmen like Harvey Parry(in the Kevin Brownlow series Hollywood) says "a 2 dollar bill and a bag lunch,...the old days they were great!"

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Re: Hollywood star system

Unread post by BGM » Sat Mar 10, 2018 7:21 pm

The book The Star Machineby Jeanine Basinger is a great book on this subject. Very enjoyable and informative!

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Re: Hollywood star system

Unread post by salus » Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:44 pm

In the old days they were groomed to be STARS+ACTORS+MONEY MAKERS, today it's only ACTORS+MONEY MAKERS, just watch the awards shows nobody knows anybody, in the old days the Stars were known.

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