If I were pressed to pick just one topic that is universally loved in our household, I would pick history. My husband is a history nut, and growing up with my dad (who is also a history nut), just enough has worn off on me so that I enjoy learning about it too. One subject that has always been a favorite of mine is Old Hollywood – I love love love the old movies, the old movie stars and learning the nitty gritty truth about what really went on in the history of Hollywood. Movies like Casablanca and Gone With the Wind are my all-time favorites. They just don’t make them like that any more. We like to incorporate old movies with our at-home date nights, because my husband likes them just as much as I do, and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is one of our favorite channels.
TCM is now doing a series called Moguls and Movie Stars, which is an awesome combination of two things we love – classic movies and history. Here’s some more info on TCM Moguls and Movie Stars:
(About Moguls & Movie Stars)
TCM will tell the comprehensive story of the men and women who built the American film industry in this groundbreaking, seven-part documentary series. MOGULS & MOVIE STARS features rarely seen photographs and film footage; clips from memorable American movies; and interviews with distinguished historians and major Hollywood figures, including Sidney Lumet, Richard Zanuck, Samuel Goldwyn Jr., Peter Bogdanovich, Gore Vidal, Robert Osborne and Molly Haskell.
Spanning from the invention of the first moving pictures to the revolutionary, cutting-edge films of the 1960s, this ambitious production is an epic history of Hollywood, detailing the personalities, inter-personal relationships, collaborations and conflicts that created an industry and an art form. The series also serves as a history of America, looking at how moviemakers responded to such major events as the Great Depression, World War II and the Civil Rights movement. MOGULS & MOVIE STARS is executive-produced by Bill Haber (TNT’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King; Broadway’s The History Boys and Monty Python’s Spamalot) and written and produced by Jon Wilkman.
In coordination with the 7-part television series, there was also a travelling exhibit going through the US. The stops included Atlanta, New York, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles (note – the final stop of the tour, LA, is wrapping up tomorrow – GO if you haven’t already!). The exhibit included the Oscar from Casablanca, Plummer’s costume from The Sound of Music, a dress worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind (I would’ve loved to see this one!!), a red jacket worn by Marilyn Monroe in Niagara, and more. There were also interactive panels with clips from the documentary series. I totally wish I had been able to go to this exhibit because it sounds fantastic. I hope some of you were able to go, and I’d love to hear how it was! In the meantime, I’ll be watching the documentary series on TCM.
We will be watching episodes 4 & 5 on Monday, November 29, and a ton of great movies (Casablanca!) between now and then. Here’s some info on those episodes:
Episode 4: Brother, Can You Spare a Dream?
The movies broke their silence in 1927, as Warner Bros. introduced the first major synchronized sound film, The Jazz Singer. Stage-trained actors were suddenly in demand, and among those to break though in the early sound era were James Cagney, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Katharine Hepburn and Edward G. Robinson. For the most part, the movies were able to ride the storm of the Great Depression, as crowds flocked to escapist entertainments ranging from Mae West comedies to the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals. Most of the moguls toughed out the hard times, though some tumbled. Hungarian-born William Fox, after being a dominant force with his production company and chain of theaters, faced bankruptcy. Laemmle was forced to sell Universal in 1935. However, Harry Cohn prospered at low-budget Columbia Pictures, which gained new respect with director Frank Capra’s Oscar®-winning It Happened One Night (1934). Darryl F. Zanuck, at 20th Century Fox, blossomed into one of the youngest moguls. A new generation of filmmakers from Europe included Ernst Lubitsch, William Wyler and Alfred Hitchcock, while homegrown genius Walt Disney created magic through the wonders of animation. As producer David O. Selznick capped the decade of the 1930s with his epic Gone With the Wind (1939), the great conflict of modern times was waiting in the wings.
Episode 5: Warriors & Peace Makers
When the U.S. entered World War II, movies became a powerful means of promoting patriotism, not only through overt propaganda but through films that rallied support while also entertaining. Some directors of the era, including Howard Hawks and Raoul Walsh, were as hard-bitten as their subject matter, while such filmmakers as Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges added an edge of humor and Orson Welles created his masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941). Many male stars served in uniform while John Wayne seemed to be winning the war almost single-handedly onscreen. Directors such as George Stevens, John Ford and John Huston saw combat first-hand and created powerful documentaries, as did Frank Capra. When the war finally ended, producer Samuel Goldwyn and director William Wyler summed up the country’s uncertain optimism with The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). A darker tone was conveyed by the shadowy world of film noir and the examination of such topics as anti-Semitism (Gentleman’s Agreement, 1947) and racism (Home of the Brave, 1949). The business environment was also changing. Actress Olivia de Havilland challenged the studio contract system and won, and in 1948 the Hollywood moguls had to face the breakup of the old monopoly that allowed control of both film production and theaters. As the decade came to a close, a formidable new competitor loomed on the horizon.
Check out the interactive schedule here or in the right sidebar to see when what movies are playing and when you can catch this really neat documentary series!
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