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  • Hollywood, here we come!

  • The glamor!

  • The celebrities!

  • The scandals!

  • I'm not talking about Bennifer or Brangelina.

  • -Are they still things? -No... -Oh, I'm kind of out of touch.

  • But I'm not out of touch with the Golden Age of Silent Cinema, when stars rose and fell,

  • studios perfected the mass production of films,

  • and American movies dominated the global film market.

  • In some ways, it was very different from the Hollywood we know today.

  • Movie studios wielded enormous power.

  • They kept stars and directors under tight control.

  • The movies they made were silent.

  • And a ticket would set you back a whopping 10 or 25 cents.

  • On the other hand, a lot of the patterns set during this time still seem awfully familiar today.

  • Studios marketed films on the power of their stars.

  • Genres like gangster movies and romantic comedies took hold and flourished.

  • And audiences craved gossip about the private lives of celebrities.

  • To understand the world as it is, sometimes you have to go back to where it all began.

  • And for Hollywood, that's the Silent Era.

  • [Opening Music Plays]

  • Film was going in a lot of different directions

  • after the First World War.

  • In Germany, filmmakers drew on the Expressionist movement to manipulate their film's mise-en-scene,

  • creating groundbreaking horror films.

  • In Russia, Soviet filmmakers were using cinema to perfect the art of propaganda

  • through revolutionary editing techniques.

  • And in the US, the Hollywood studio system was positioning itself

  • to dominate the rest of the world.

  • Within film studios, the entire filmmaking process took place -- from conceiving, writing,

  • and shooting the films, to marketing and distribution.

  • The studios had chosen California for its film-friendly sunny weather, its proximity

  • to all kinds of terrain, and ... its distance from Thomas Edison, who spent much of the

  • 1910s fighting for control of the American film industry from his base in New Jersey.

  • In the early days of the Silent Era, three film studios ruled them all:

  • The Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, which would eventually become Paramount Pictures,

  • Loew's Inc., which began as a theater chain,

  • and First National Pictures.

  • Not only did these three dominate the marketplace, they exercised near complete control over

  • the creative and personal lives of their stars, writers, and directors.

  • Filmmakers often had to choose between following the studio's orders or abandoning their careers.

  • Then, four of the most powerful figures in early silent cinema came together to create

  • their own film studio.

  • In 1919, two directors, Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith,

  • and two stars, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, founded United Artists.

  • Their goal was to give filmmakers more control over their films

  • and a greater percentage of the profits.

  • CHA-CHING! Is what I assume they would say.

  • Of course, not many filmmakers could afford to go out on their own like that,

  • so the contract system would continue for several more decades.

  • In 1924, the most powerful studio emerged when Loew's purchased Goldwyn Pictures and

  • Louis B. Mayer Productions to create Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, better known as MGM.

  • Which lead to MGM studios which lead to Tower of Terror,

  • and have you been on Tower of Terror? That's a pretty fun time.

  • This is a process that would get repeated throughout the 1920s and 1930s,

  • as studios merged or sold or split apart.

  • Probably because there was this prohibition and they didn't have anything else to do.

  • By the end of the era, most American films were being made at studios whose names you

  • might recognize from the multiplex today: Not only United Artists and MGM, but also

  • Warner Brothers, Fox, Universal, and Columbia Pictures.

  • Now while the corporate structure of these companies kept changing, the process by which

  • they were making films was becoming remarkably stable and efficient. Unlike me.

  • The major studios became very good at

  • churning out large-scale, commercial movies with mass appeal.

  • One of the leading innovators in setting up the way studios worked was a man named Thomas H. Ince.

  • Like D.W. Griffith, Ince came to film as a failed actor.

  • He directed his first film in 1910,

  • and by 1913 he was making as many as 150 two-reelers a year!

  • His biggest impact on film came by applying the lessons of mass production

  • to the actual making of movies.

  • Prior to Ince, most films were overseen by a director-cameraman,

  • a single person who conceived the story, worked with the actors, and operated the camera.

  • Ince broke those roles into separate jobs:

  • A screenwriter to conceive the story and write the script.

  • A director to make creative decisions on set and work with the actors.

  • An editor to assemble the footage.

  • A producer to supervise the project from inception to final cut.

  • And a studio head to oversee the entire studio.

  • While other filmmakers had played around with these roles,

  • it was Ince who standardized them into a system – a system still used today.

  • By 1912, he'd earned enough money to buy a ranch west of Hollywood

  • where he built his own studio, a place he called Inceville

  • Yep!

  • It was here where the first permanent exterior sets were built,

  • made to resemble far flung locations,

  • like a cowboy saloon, a little Swiss street, or a Japanese village.

  • And as Ince worked to define the roles and streamline the means of production,

  • he was able to triple the output of his studio.

  • Though he died quite young in 1924,

  • Ince's impact on film production was thorough, widespread, and lasting.

  • Now, Mack Sennett, another early film mogul and one-time partner of Ince,

  • was responsible for discovering a whole slew of film legends,

  • whose names you might recognize.

  • People like the Keystone Cops, Fatty Arbuckle, Gloria Swanson,

  • Carole Lombard, W.C. Fields, andthe great Charlie Chaplin.

  • Let's talk a little bit about Charlie Chaplin.

  • He was born into poverty in England in 1889.

  • He went into acting, signed with a prestigious Vaudeville touring company,

  • and set off for America at age 19.

  • A film talent scout spotted him there, got him hired by Sennett, and the rest is history.

  • That we're gonna talk about because we're talking about Film History.

  • Smart, curious, and driven, it didn't take long for Chaplin

  • to develop his iconic Tramp persona and begin directing his own films.

  • After finishing his first film contract, Chaplin struck an extremely lucrative deal with the

  • Chicago-based Essanay Studios to make 14 short films.

  • While at Essanay, he found ways to combine his finely tuned sense of empathy

  • and his recognizable Tramp character with a growing ability to make audiences laugh,

  • through both physical comedy and increasingly clever storylines.

  • In fact, he was so popular that by the time his Essanay contract was up in 1915,

  • he negotiated an almost unprecedented salary of $10,000 per week

  • with another studio, the Mutual Film Corporation.

  • They also paid him a signing bonus of $150,000,

  • the equivalent of about $3.5 million dollars today.

  • CHA-CHING! Is what they would have said at the time.

  • The movies Chaplin made with Mutual brought him international stardom.

  • They marked the first time his focus on the poor verged into social criticism,

  • a place silent comedies rarely, if ever, went.

  • True to his roots, and despite being one of the highest paid people in the world,

  • Chaplin's films often focused on the gentle, accidental heroism of the downtrodden.

  • Time and again, he made the powerful the butt of his jokes

  • and displayed tremendous empathy for the poor and the humble.

  • Then in 1919, at age 30, he co-founded United Artists

  • in an effort to exercise greater control over his films.

  • I'm 36... I better get moving.

  • What followed was a string of classic movies that rank not only among Chaplin's best,

  • but among the best film comedies of all time:

  • The Kid, his first feature film and a smash hit,

  • ,The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times,

  • and his controversial take-down of Adolf Hitler, The Great Dictator.

  • His later career would be hampered by legal problems and socialist sympathies,

  • which would land him on the infamous post-war blacklist, and keep him from making films.

  • But at his height, no one benefited more from the Silent Era studio system than Charlie Chaplin,

  • as a director, making a lot of films quickly and efficiently,

  • and as an actor, commanding enormous salaries and unheard-of creative control.

  • And he wasn't the only one to turn this system to his advantage.

  • Actor-directors like Buster Keaton, "Fatty" Arbuckle, and Harold Lloyd

  • achieved great success making their own short and feature-length comedies.

  • Stars from Mary Pickford to Gloria Swanson parlayed their celebrity into tangible behind-the-scenes power.

  • Now, as film became more and more central to popular culture,

  • some people started to get nervous.

  • They worried that movies posed a real threat to public morality.

  • They saw films promoting materialism, cynicism, and sexual license.

  • This would be a debate that would come up again and again in American culture

  • about movies or music or video games

  • until now when we've solved all those problems.

  • Is the medium causing society's problems,

  • or just reflecting them?

  • A few real-life Hollywood scandals at the time tipped the scales,

  • bringing on the first real self-censorship of American cinema.

  • The gossip press fed readers stories about stars dealing with addictions, affairs, and worse.

  • The most famous of these centered around Fatty Arbuckle, who was accused of the rape and

  • accidental death of an actress named Virginia Rappe.

  • Although he was ultimately acquitted after three highly-publicized trials, the scandal

  • itself all but ended Arbuckle's career, and left an opening for a government crackdown

  • on immorality in films and the film business.

  • Rather than wait for Congress to get involved, the major players in the film industry banded

  • together to form the MPPDAthe Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America.

  • They hired a retired Postmaster General named Will Hays, a conservative Evangelical,

  • to prove they were serious about cleaning up their act.

  • And that's exactly what Hays did in 1930,

  • putting together the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays Code,

  • a catalogue of things filmmakers could and couldn't show on screen.

  • ...Fun.

  • The Code also suggested a strategy called Compensating Values.

  • The idea was that films could show characters engaging in vice for most of the film,

  • as long as virtue triumphed in the end.

  • No one employed this technique better than director Cecile B. DeMille.

  • He was a master at giving the audience all the vice and excess they could handle

  • for the first three quarters of the movie, before virtue came out on top.

  • Other filmmakers found their own ways around the Hays Code.

  • German director Ernst Lubitsch came to Hollywood in 1922

  • and made a successful series of witty sex comedies

  • that relied on suggestion and innuendo rather than skin.

  • For many of these filmmakers, however,

  • the Hays Code was about to become the least of their worries.

  • A seismic event was poised to shake up Hollywood,

  • and not every filmmaker of the Silent Era

  • was going to come out the other side with their career intact.

  • The world was about to get its first taste of synchronous sound.

  • And it tasted good... Maybe, I don't know.

  • Today, we explored the Silent Era, the first golden age of Hollywood filmmaking.

  • We learned about the innovations of Thomas Ince and the rise of the American film studio.

  • And we discussed some of the most important Silent Era filmmakers and how their scandals,

  • both real and imagined, led Hollywood to institute industry standards

  • governing the content of their films.

  • Next we'll tackle the biggest shift in the history of film yet,

  • as movies find their voice... es...

  • Crash Course Film History is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios.

  • You can head over to their channel to check out a playlist of their latest amazing shows,

  • like The Art Assignment, Gross Science, and PBS Infinite Series.

  • This episode of Crash Course was filmed in the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Studio

  • with the help of all these Industry Standards, and our amazing graphics team, is Thought Cafe.

Hollywood, here we come!

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サイレント時代。クラッシュ・コース 映画史 #9 (The Silent Era: Crash Course Film History #9)

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    Ntiana に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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