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The Hollywood Studios

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  47 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Hollywood in the years between 1929 and 1948 was a town of moviemaking empires. The great studios were estates of talent: sprawling, dense, diverse. It was the Golden Age of the Movies, and each studio made its distinctive contribution. But how did the studios, "growing up" in the same time and place, develop so differently? What combinations of talents and temperaments ga ...more
ebook, 317 pages
Published January 2nd 2013 by Knopf (first published May 12th 1988)
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Aug 31, 2009 Francesca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
I listened to the blackstone audiobook edition of this book. It's a great intro to how each Hollywood studio developed its particular style and forte, and the moguls connected with each. I was annoyed, though, that the author can't appreciate the campiness of such monstrosities as, say, Crawford's later films, and spends too much time expressing his cynical opinions about the industry. The occasional film theory jargon and use of $10 words was also annoying.
Scott Martin
(Audiobook) When I first checked this book out, I thought I might learn a bit more about the Golden Age of Hollywood and the classic studios, in which I have some interest. Yet, this book, while providing some insight, was not quite what I expected. It really had the feel of a college textbook written for a mid-level film study class. It really assumed that the reader had a working knowledge of not only the Golden Age of the power studios, but of the silent era and the first days of the movie bu ...more
Lizabeth Tucker
Subtitled: House Style in the Golden Age of the Movies.

Mordden takes you through the various studios who were the beginning of Hollywood as well as the moguls who shaped them. He discusses how each studio had their individual strengths as well as a unique focus. Paramount, MGM, RKO, Universal, Warner Brothers and more are discussed and compared. They all struggled to make films that would bring in the audiences, that generated respect and prestige, and ultimately make money.

I love Mordden's styl
Jun 25, 2008 Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of classic Hollywood cinema
Shelves: film, non-fiction
First off - I love Ethan Mordden's books. He's not a scholar and is incredibly opinionated, which is actually refreshing. He knows the subject matter, all the names and details, but doesn't get bogged down in cinema studies jargon (you can also tell he's not from the cinema studies world because he seems to hate Douglas Sirk's movies). He writes like someone who loves movies and is trying to get at why these films still remain to vital today.

His analysis of the studio system is interesting but d
David Fiore
Aug 16, 2012 David Fiore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read experience for any old movie buff (I've probably been through it nearly a hundred times since I first picked it up when I was a kid - any time I encounter a movie from the 1930s for the first time, I dive into this book's index and wind up staying with it for about 50 pages before I have to return to the rest of my life). As has been noted, Mordden is no scholar, and he makes no pretense of writing like one. That said, his thesis (that the studios can/sometimes-should be trea ...more
Chuck Williamson
Mar 06, 2012 Chuck Williamson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Far too conversational, digressive, and prone to misguided grousing. But it does provide a comprehensive, reader-friendly introduction to the studio system. Recommended only if you don't mind Mordden's sometimes-frothy breadth-over-depth approach and oddball opinions on certain canonical films (The Band Wagon, Imitation of Life, etc.)
Peter M. B.
Dec 14, 2014 Peter M. B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hollywood
A fascinating book for anyone interested in classic Hollywood, as it analyzes the styles and films of each of the old studios. There's no narrative story but the author's writing and occasional opinionated flourish keep things lively. And perhaps best of all, I learned about so many films that I now want to see.
Nov 05, 2008 Greta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really has an eye for the characteristics of each studio’s films and says it with wit. Snarky but often accurate, though I think he’s too hard on quite a few people. More convincing argument on why he thinks Goldwyn is a loser than Carol Easton manages in a whole book, and he’s a contrarian on Sirk.
Jun 09, 2008 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: burgeoning cinemaphiles, movie fans
Shelves: film
A nifty overview of the studios that snowballed through the early twentieth century to produce the 'classics' we know and love. Mordden's frequent first-person narration may not be for those seeking a more scholarly approach, but I enjoy his tell-it-as-I-see-it take on whatever happens to come up.
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