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Documentary - Moguls & Movie Stars - A History of Hollywood 1

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Moguls & Movie Stars
A History of Hollywood
7 episodes 3 DVD
Produced by Jon Wilkman
TCM Warner Home Video 2011

This is the first of a two part review. If you are at all interested in the movies Moguls & Movie Stars is a must see. This excellent, well-made, very informative, fun 7 part 3 DVD documentary from Turner Classic Movies tells the story of cinema from its earliest beginnings to the 1970s. What most impresses is the high quality of the oldest archival footage. You would have to be a PhD to figure out what Moguls & Movie Stars missed. One annoying thing is there is no chapter selection available within each episode.

Moguls & Movie Stars opens with Peepshow Pioneers (1889 - 1907). It begins with the first still photographs to the magic lantern and then sequential photographs and the 30-second reel you could watch by peeping through a lens. Part one covers Edison, the Lumiere Brothers, and the first woman filmmaker Alice Guy-Blache. It ends with Edison losing his patent war against all other movie makers and the industry moving to California and a quet village named Hollywood.

The Birth of Hollywood (1907 - 20) presents D.W. Griffith, one of the first with Zuckor (Famous Players) to believe you could tell more than a 10-minute story. Griffith influenced Mack Sennett, creator of the Keystone Cops. The episode also presents the first animation by Windsor Mackay, and the first real stars like Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, and Charlie Chaplin. Bronco Billy was the first western star. Tom Ince created the first real studio soon before Carl Lemle s Universal. It also pays special attention to the powerful women of the era like Lois Webber and Frances Marion. One must not forget the first grand movie theatres and the first social issue films on child labor and other social problems.

The Dream Merchants (1920 - 28) Looks at the influence of prohibition, briefly at the Fattu Arbuckle story and the Hays Commission, the rise and fall of D.W. Griffith and independent studios being bought out and brought together like MGM. Also part of this third episode are Hal Roach, Harold Lloyd, Lon Chaney, the first use of test audiences, the importance of William Randolph Hearst, RKO, Greta Garbo, the birth of the fancy and grandiose movie theatre, Rin Tin Tin and his writer Darryl Zanuck, the Hollywood sign, and the Academy of Motion Pictures.

Episode 4 of this documentary DVD set is Brother, Can You Spare A Dream? (1929-41). Hollywood was not immune to the Crash and the Moguls were replaced by bankers. The advent of sound is given rather short shrift. Writers become an important commodity. It is also the birth of the bad guy hero and of the star not fully owned by a studio. Censorship increased.  The studios created faux newsreel to influence politics such as blocking Sinclair Lewis s run for California governor but also movies that changed society such as I Was a Fugitive from the Chain Gang. Columbia Pictures is born and is lifted from Poverty Row by Frank Capra. The birth of "Race Movies" with Oscar Michaux and other Black directors.

The second review Moguls and Movie Stars focuses on episodes 5 to 7 of this 3 DVD documentary.

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