Professional / Visual Arts & Film Studies Essay


History of film: 1930 – 1959

In 1927, Warner Bros released The Jazz singer. This movie, which was mostly silent, also contained the first synchronized dialogue in any feature film. The introduction of sound has been forthcoming for a while, and this opened the floodgates to talking movies and signaled the end of the Silent film era. By 1929, almost all the film in Hollywood was sound movies. The change was slower in places like Japan and China for cultural reasons, and silent films coexisted with sound movies well into the 1930s.

The introduction of sound has lasting effects on competition within the film industry as it gave the big studios the advantage over their smalltime competitors who could not afford the large expense needed to transition from silent to sound film productions. The introduction of sound lured many who, before then, had no serious interest in film to embrace the cinema, and the remaining major studios reaped the benefits of this. It was the introduction of sound that ushered in what is now considered the golden age of Hollywood. A period during which the American cinema peaked in terms of efficiently manufactured movies that increased its global appeal and glamour.

However, the transition from silent film to sound was not a smooth one. Movies first had to return to its old days with many sound films of the late 1920s facing limitations in sound equipment and technical expertise needed to operate the equipment. Alfred Hitchcock was one of the directors to first master the use of sound in film and brought greater fluidity to these movies. Sound movies created more genres and benefitted the existing ones much more than silent films ever did. In the opinion of some historians, the introduction of sound was what saved the Hollywood Studio system during the great depression.

Origin of Hollywood

Hollywood, the place where dreams come true, and stars are born, started as an agricultural settlement. It was H. J. Whitely, described by many as the Father of Hollywood. He aided the development of this community with the opening of the Hollywood Hotel and the development of Ocean View Tract. With the development of the community also came to the film studios. In 1908, the Count of Monte Cristo became the first film to be completed in Hollywood after the initial production of the film in Chicago. By 1910, Old California became the first film that was entirely made in Hollywood.

The first movie studio in Hollywood appeared in 1911 by Sunset Boulevard, and by 1915, many film production companies moved from the East Coast to Hollywood. This relocation wasn't without reason. Hollywood offered filmmakers the ideal location as they could not be sued here for infringing on patents held by the Edison Motion Picture Patents Company. Coupled with this is this fact that the weather in Hollywood was predictably warm and sunny, and the land offered great terrains that could be used for backdrops in movies.

Another significant part of Hollywood development is the Hollywood sign, which is today one of the most popular tourist attraction there. The sign was designed and erected as an advertisement by real estate mogul, Harry Chandler, in 1923 to advertise a high rise neighborhood. Originally, the sign was Hollywoodland. The initial plan was for the sign to last for 18 months, but it soon became part of the Hollywood culture. In 1948, the last four letters were removed during restoration, and this came to be the popular sign featured in many movies today.

Golden Age of Hollywood

This age denotes a period during which America's film industry witnessed great experimentation, change, and growth. It was a period of International prestige for Hollywood. This period was dominated by five major movie studios – Warner Brothers, Fox, RKO, Paramount, and MGM. There were also smaller studios such as United Artists, Universal, and Colombia.

There are diverse opinions as to when the golden age started. Some believe it began during the silent movie era with movies such as The Birth of a Nation in 1915 and The Kid in 1921. The other opinion is that it started with the end of the silent film era and the introduction of sound. The fact remains that the introduction of sound aided Hollywood's development and allowed the production of films in different genres such as musicals, Westerns, romantic dramas, documentaries, horrors, etc. It also improved Hollywood's reputation as a place of fame and influence and increased the idolization of movie stars.

Hollywood was active as a political propaganda tool during World War 1 and produced various reels and short films about preparedness recruitment and war. The 1930s was the height of the golden age as the movie industry became one of the largest industries in America. Even with the Great Depression and the tough economic clime of that period, about 80 million Americans still visited the cinema each week. It was during this period that classic movies such as Gone with the Wind, Snow White and Seven Dwarves, Citizen Kane, A Star is Born, The Wizard of Oz, etc. were released.

Hollywood and the Second World War

The Second World War and the despair it brought was utilized by Hollywood to create comedies and cartoons, some of which also served as war propaganda. The war had a serious impact on the development of Hollywood as it led to restrictions on things such as budget, location, etc. During that period, many movie stars also joined war efforts either directly or indirectly, leading to a decline.


After the Second World War, alternative developments in film started in a different part of the world. In Italy, Italian Neorealism, which focused on contemporary Italian society in the 1940s1930–1959, had a significant effect on the global movie industry. So also was the French New Wave that focused on brilliant techniques to create the impact instead of the subject matter of the film itself.


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