The Hollywood Golden Age and its glamor are still shaping the film industry a century later. Even after ushering in a new, contemporary era of filmmaking, timeless talent likes Marilyn Monroe And Humphrey Bogart are still the faces of an ever-changing industry. Between the advent of Technicolor and the gorgeous sets and performances that continue to inspire filmmakers into the 2020s, most of what emerged from the Golden Age is unforgettable and remains a standout in United States history. Despite its size, this legendary age of Hollywood ended decades ago. What caused the Golden Age of Hollywood to come to an end?

What is the Golden Age?

When talking about the Golden Age of Hollywood, most people think of the following Black and white photos of famous faces, beads and flashing camera lights on the red carpet and the remarkable Hollywood sign that people travel far to see. However, the era was largely defined by what went on behind the scenes, such as advances in technology.

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The exact time frame of the Golden Age is often disputed and varies in start and end dates. Some say the age ended in the 1950s, while others say it lasted until the late 1970s. That depends on what exactly you call the Golden Age. People only refer to the years of technological advances as the actual Golden Age, which is a shorter period, and others refer to the years of film directly affected by these advances, practically leading up to the 1980s. Other sources say the end of the Golden Age came with the start of World War II in 1939. Hence, in some cases it is said that this iconic Hollywood era began in the 1910s and ended in the late 1970s.

New advances and revelations in filmmaking were made during this period, bringing iconic images to audiences casablanca (1942) and dizziness (1958). Movie stars spoke with a transatlantic accent and the industry was run by five production titans then known as the “Big Five”: Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., RKO Radio Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Studios. Other smaller studios pictured included Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures, and United Artists. Some of these studios still exist today and have now reached the status of a media conglomerate or have been bought out by one. Stars from the Golden Age like Rita Hayworth And Cary Grant were often signed by one of those studios, which meant they only starred in films that a studio was producing while under contract with them. The commitment of this well-known and popular actor Guaranteed random audience for the studios’ films.

Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember.
Image via 20th Century Fox

This period is called “golden” not because of the glorification of fame and fortune, but because of the proliferation of films produced and what happened behind the camera. The transition from silent film to “talkie” enabled filmmakers, writers and actors to push boundaries when it came to what was then about filmmaking. Introducing sound into filmmaking created a lot of space for film musicals, which became very popular at the time. The combination of sound and technicolor was stunning, Up to 40 musicals were brought to the big screen in one year of production. The most popular films include The Wizard of Oz (1939), The sound of music (1965) and sing in the rain (1952), the latter having inspired contemporary musicals such as la la country (2016).

Another factor in filmmaking that changed was writing. The inclusion of audio production opened the door to more in-depth dialogue rather than simple text on a screen, and allowed for more complex storylines and storytelling in films. Engage more in the plot being created the classic genres of the Golden Age like westerns and comedies. There was also the beginning of using multiple sets instead of a stage, as well as the general creativity and uniqueness expressed in this era of film that resulted from technological discoveries and risks. All of this, along with the introduction of large picture studio systems, led to an explosion in filmmaking and cinema-going.

So what destroyed the Golden Age?

sing in the rain

While the end date of the Golden Age depends on who is asked, many factors ended this era of filmmaking, and not just one. The biggest culprit is the introduction and popularization of television. Between the mass resettlement in the suburbs and the growing number of familiestelevision became a staple for homeowners. The existence of television brought with it both fear and revulsion, and the small screen became a serious threat to film and cinemas.

Television made more media more accessible, broadcasting everything from sports to news after its invention in 1927. However, many people were initially unsettled by the idea of ​​television. Some critics said the idea of ​​young people staring at a screen for hours makes them uneasy. They see it as a danger during the Red Scare and are declared anti-intellectual. Because of this, many films have been produced on the subject of the invention of the television, and may even have stoked public fear. A film that explored this was murder on TV (1935), with Bela Lugosi, which follows a murder during a television demonstration. Still, television became essential and had a direct impact on box office attendance, a similar fact to streaming services impacting the box office today. After the establishment of record companies and theme parks to increase salesmajor studios began producing television shows.

Another fairly direct cause of the Golden Age’s demise was the changes made to the system of the major picture studios. It turned out that larger studios had too much power between owning theaters and booking their films for showing on screens, leading to legal action. Many Hollywood corporations have been held guilty Violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, as studios ultimately created monopolies due to their level of control and lack of regulation. After the case went to court, the studios were barred from owning venues showing only their films and from having more than five of their films playing in theaters at any one time. This also had an impact on the contracts that the studios had with their stars, resulting in them having to find new ways to make their productions unique. Another direct impact of this has been the rise of independent and art house productions and theatre.

While Hollywood’s Golden Age paved the way for films we know and love today, and its glamor is still popular, there wasn’t much room for films from smaller studios. The framework conditions for the industry have changed enormously in this respect, even if it is still dominated by larger corporations. Furthermore, the engagement and treatment of movie stars in the early and mid-20th century may have set the framework for this intense fame and obsession with on-screen talent, long before there was social media. However, the desire for different stories than the ones audiences got back then is allowing for a new kind of creativity and further pushing the boundaries in terms of films and technology. Still, audiences and filmmakers will not soon forget the era that defined and produced timeless, visually stunning stories.

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