You’ve probably heard of the famous Barton Organ and the famous Hays (Production) Code, but how much do you really know about the history of the Hollywood movie theater? It’s worth learning about the history of these theatres, which have played a role in ensuring Hollywood’s success. Fortunately, there are a variety of different things to know about them as well. Read on to find out more. You may also find it interesting to see what made them so special.
The Barton organ in the Hollywood movie theatre is an example of a classic American theater instrument. This 19th century organ was installed prior to the opening of the theater in 1928. Today, the iconic Barton organ can be heard nearly every day. It has played the soundtrack to many early silent films, including “As You Wish.” The organ was played by a rotating cast of professional and volunteer organists, some of whom have been deeply involved in the restoration process.
MGM dominated the film industry
For most of the twentieth century, MGM was a powerhouse in the movie theatre industry. The company controlled the majority of the theatrical distribution in the United States from 1924 to 1971. After that, they outsourced the distribution to other companies, including United Artists and Cinema International Corporation. After that, they partnered with 20th Century Fox to release certain films overseas. During the post-World War II era, they also partnered with Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group to distribute some films. And, from 2006 to 2010, MGM and Annapurna Pictures shared the distribution financing for some films, including ‘Hollywood’.
The Hays (Production) Code
In 1929, the Hays (Production) Code for Hollywood film studios was established. It banned violence, crime glamorization, and depictions of social taboos. While it was voluntary, studios that did not comply with the code were punished, and it had a long and lasting effect on American filmmaking. The code was adopted by studio heads and became the basis for almost every movie produced in the U.S. between 1930 and 1966.
MGM’s star system
The 1930s marked the emergence of the MGM star system in Hollywood movie theatres. In a contract with the American Musical Academy of Arts Association (AMAA), MGM hired budding stars and developed them into stars. Clark Gable, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, and other prominent movie stars landed roles in movies for MGM. Their contract was worth $350 a week. In total, Clark Gable made eight movies for MGM, two of which were on loan to Warner Bros.
Jewish immigrants in Hollywood
The rise of Hollywood movie studios was not the first major influence for Jewish people in the United States. Prior to the development of Hollywood, Jews contributed to American culture in many ways. As mass emigration from Eastern Europe began in the late 1800s, Jewish immigrants had become prominent in live theater, popular music, and film. By the time motion pictures began to catch on in the early 20th century, Jewish immigrants had already established themselves in the film industry. During the anti-communist Red Scare, Jewish film artists stood up for the rights of left-wing filmmakers and paid a high price for their activism. Unfortunately, their activism and legacy are mostly forgotten by the American public.
MGM’s influence on post-classical cinema
The early 1930s were a golden age for American film, and MGM ruled the studio. Mayer and Thalberg were the most powerful men in Hollywood. However, their dominance began to crumble after Thalberg’s death. MGM’s productions became more specialized, requiring an ever-expanding staff of producers and directors. Mayer himself resisted modifying the studio’s untenable factory system. As a result, he was replaced as the production head by Dore Schary. Mayer’s departure from the studio was not greeted with much fanfare.