Tuesday, July 4, 2017

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2016) by Year - 0217 - KID, THE (Charles Chaplin, 1921, USA, 60m, BW)



 

KID, THE 

(Charles Chaplin, 1921, USA, 60m, BW)



Introduction


KID, THE (Charles Chaplin, 1921, USA, 60m, BW)


Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Granville Redmond, May White, Henry Bergman, Charles Reisner, Raymond Lee, Tom Wilson, Carl Miller, Jackie Coogan, Edna Purviance, Charles Chaplin
Director: Charles Chaplin
Writer: Charles Chaplin
Rating: NR
Running Time: 60 min.


Synopsis

Chaplin's first full-length feature is a silent masterpiece about a little tramp who discovers a little orphan and brings him up but is left desolate when the orphanage reclaims him. Chaplin directed, produced and starred in the film, as well as composed the score


Plot

An unwed woman (Edna Purviance) leaves a charity hospital carrying her newborn son. An artist (Carl Miller), the apparent father, is shown with the woman's photograph. When it falls into the fireplace, he first picks it up, then throws it back in to burn up. The woman decides to abandon her child in the back seat of an expensive automobile with a handwritten note imploring the finder to care for and love the baby. However, the car is stolen. When the two thieves discover the child, they leave him on the street. The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) finds the baby. Unwilling at first to take on the responsibility, he eventually softens and names the boy John. Elsewhere, the woman has an apparent change of heart and returns for the baby, but is heartbroken and faints upon learning of the baby having been taken away.

Five years pass, and the child (Jackie Coogan) becomes the Tramp's partner in minor crime, throwing stones to break windows that the Tramp, working as a glazier, can then repair. Meanwhile, the woman becomes a wealthy star. She does charity work among the poor to fill the void of her missing child. By chance, the mother and child cross paths, but do not recognize each other. When the boy becomes sick, a doctor comes to see him. He discovers that the Tramp is not the boy's father. The Tramp shows him the note left by the mother, but the doctor merely takes it and notifies the authorities. Two men come to take the boy to an orphanage, but after a fight and a chase, the Tramp regains the boy. When the woman comes back to see how the boy is doing, the doctor tells her what has happened, then shows her the note, which she recognizes.

Now fugitives, the Tramp and the boy spend the night in a flophouse, but the manager (Bergman), having read of the $1000 reward offered for the child, takes him to the police station to be united with his ecstatic mother. When the Tramp wakes up, he searches frantically for the missing boy, then returns to doze beside the now-locked doorway to their humble home. In his sleep, he enters "Dreamland," with angels in residence and devilish interlopers. He is awakened by a policeman, who places the Tramp in a car and rides with him to a house. When the door opens, the woman and John emerge, reuniting the elated adoptive father and son. The policeman, who is happy for the family, shakes the Tramp's hand and leaves, before the woman welcomes the Tramp into her home.




Review

Slapstick funny and sentimental, in equal doses. The opening credit tells us it's 'A picture with a smile and perhaps a tear.' It served as Charlie Chaplin's ("Limelight"/"City Lights"/"The Great Dictator") first full-length feature, and one of his biggest box office successes. Chaplin was with a heavy heart having lost his newborn son after three days from birth defects, was going through a bitterly contested divorce with his 17-year-old wife Mildred Harris at the time of shooting the film (which took the perfectionist 5 1/2 years), and took a heavy risk of borrowing $500,000 from an Italian bank to make the film (reportedly it earned Chaplin some $60,000,000 over a lifetime). First National was upset Chaplin didn't make it a short (much cheaper to make), and were puzzled why he made it into a drama. The comedian didn't find it that funny that he was sued by both his wife and the studio, who shared the same lawyers and tried to grab the negatives that Chaplin had to smuggle out of the studio. With all that going on, it still turned out to be a fairly good film even though it couldn't sustain the comedy throughout. Charlie acts as much as he clowns around with his usual physical gags and slapstick. 

One of Charlie Chaplin’s most famous movies, The Kid was an attempt on his part to combine pathos and comedy – a marriage previously considered impossible. Chaplin succeeds admirably, largely by adding a darker edge to much of the comedy. His co-star is Jackie Coogan, an impossibly cute little kid still too young to have learned the bad acting habits displayed by many actors during the silent period. His performance is remarkably unaffected, and he shares a unique bond with Chaplin that really has the audience believing they are a loving father and son.

Despite the emotive qualities inherent in a parent-child story, in The Kid Chaplin manages to rein in his tendency to over-sentimentalise his plot for once. In fact, he seems to have been conscious of the dangers of falling into that trap, and includes some moments of darker humour that work surprisingly well. For example, having failed in his attempts to offload the baby onto other people, Chaplin sits on the kerb to contemplate his next move. He notices a drainage grate next to his foot and lifts it pensively for a moment before finally lowering it again. It’s a funny moment, but it’s played low-key, and is over in a flash.

Not a genre movie, but the Walt Lee guide includes the film for a single sequence; late in the movie, the tramp falls asleep in a doorway and dreams that he is in heaven, which is a wonderful place until some devils show up to make mischief. Though it's a fun sequence, it feels a bit out of place with the rest of the movie, and its purpose is to serve as a transition scene that eventually leads to the final ending. Still, I'm really glad for the opportunity to cover one of Chaplin's major early works, where he turned away from pure slapstick and started adding an emotional resonance to his work that made it a deeper cinematic experience. 

Chaplin does have some great comic moments in this one (I love how he can sometimes with a single look or action reveal what is going through his mind), but the core of the movie is his relationship with the child, who was played by a 7-year old Jackie Coogan, who gives an excellent performance as well. We end up caring for all of the major characters, and this includes the mother, who almost immediately regrets her abandonment of the child and returns to the place she left him, only to find the child gone. This is a wonderful movie, and it's a good example of the maturity of Chaplin's craft.


Additional Information


THE PRODUCTION SYSTEM 

During the late 1910s and early 1920s, the successful companies, led by Adolph Zukor's 
Famous Players-Lasky corporation, developed a system by which to manufacture popular 
films on a large scale. This system was much admired abroad, and film industries the 
world over sent their representatives over to Hollywood to study and, if possible, copy it. 
As well as visitors from France, Germany, and Britain, Holl5wood was to play host in the 
1930s to Luigi Freddi, head of the Italian Fascist film industry, and to Boris Shumyatsky, 
Stalin's henchman in charge of the industry in the Soviet Union. 

The centerpiece of the product offered by the Hollywood companies was the feature film, 
generally about ninety minutes long. Ten-minute newsreels or animated subjects might 
provide a complement, but it was the feature that sold the show. The feature film had to 
be a story of unusual interest, produced at a cost of about $100,000, sometimes up to 
$500,000. Ironically, inspiration for this had come from Europe. Through the 1910s 

foreign features repeatedly demonstrated that longer films could draw size-able audiences. 
The then independents imported epics from European film-makers who did not care to 
book through the Trust. The success of prestigious Italian productions such as Dante's 
Inferno ( 1911) not only proved there existed a market for longer fare, but helped to give 
the new medium much-needed respectability in the eyes of the traditional middle class. 

In 1911 Dante's Inferno enjoyed successful extended engagements in New York and 
Boston. Where the average two-reel Trust film may have played two days, Dante's Inferno 
was held over for two weeks. Where the average Trust film was shown in a 200-seat 
'Odeon' for 10 cents, Dante's Inferno was presented in 1,000-seat rented legitimate theatres 
for $1. Indeed, the most influential of early feature films, D. W Griffith's The Birth of a 
Nation ( 1915), opened a few years later in a noted New York City legitimate theatre and 
ran for a year at an unheard of admission price of $2. In less than two decades the 
industry had moved from selling movies as a novelty to developing a finely-honed 
publicity machine to promote an entire system and its nationally advertised products. 

Hollywood centered its promotional efforts on the star system. Publicists had to acquire the 
art of manipulating the new techniques of mass advertising and mass communication to 
create something special in the minds of the growing middle-class public. Stars provided 
an effective means of differentiating feature films, making each individual title an 
unmissable attraction. In 1909, for example, Carl Laemmle lured Florence Lawrence from 
Biograph, and named her his 'IMP Girl' — the letters representing his Independent Motion 
Picture Company (later Universal). Laemmle then sent his star on tour and planted story 
after story in the newspapers, including one falsely reporting her death. 

Others plucked their stars from the legitimate stage. Adolph Zukor's pioneering company 
Famous Players (later Paramount), whose slogan was 'Famous Players in Famous Plays', 
achieved early successes with The Count of Monte Cristo ( 1912) starring James O'Neill, 
The Prisoner of Zenda ( 1913) starring James Hackett, Queen Elizabeth ( 1912) starring 
Sarah Bernhardt, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles starring Minnie Madden Fiske. 

Zukor soon saw the need to develop his own stars, not simply buy up already established 
names. Mary Pickford saw her salary increase from $100 a week in 1909 to $10,000 per 
week in 1917 as Zukor made her the biggest star of her day. Zukor's rivals developed their 
own 'Little Marys', and 'inked' them to exclusive, long-run contracts. The Hollywood 
companies then fashioned elaborately prepared scenarios as centerpieces for their stars. 
But the stars were quick to realize that, if they were so important to the studios, they had 
bargaining power of their own. Although many remained tied to exploitative contracts, 
some of the most successful broke loose from the system. On 15 January 1919, major 
luminaries Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford joined with director 
D. W. Griffith to create United Artists, and issued a declaration of independence from 
their former studio bosses. United Artists announced it would distribute star produced 
features so their makers could extract the riches their star power had generated. 

United Artists achieved great success with, for example: The Mark of Zorro ( 1920, 
Fairbanks), Robin Hood ( 1923, Fairbanks), Little Lord Fauntleroy ( 1921, Pickford), and 
The Gold Rush ( 1925, Chaplin). Unfortunately, however, the studio did not regularly 
release enough star-laden films. Theatre owners called for three Chaplin, Fairbanks, and 
Pickford films per year, but the company was able to deliver only one every twenty- four 
months. Theatre owners could not afford to go dark to wait for biennial inspirations, and 
turned back to the majors. Thus, in the long run. United Artists simply became a haven for 

independent producers (some good, some bad) fleeing from the strict confines of the 
major Hollywood studios. 

United Artists was an anomaly. The standard Hollywood system of feature film-making 
sought to guarantee the shipment of attractive films to theatres on a weekly basis, and the 
studios developed efficient and cost-effective production methods to produce films that 
filled theatres. This factory system would prove the best method by which to provide a 
regular supply of films. 

In the days before the feature film, there had been two standard methods of production. 
For 'reality' subjects, a camera operator would journey to the subject, record the action, 
and then edit it together. For films inspired by vaudeville acts or taken from literary 
sources, movie companies employed a director to stage 'scenes' and a camera operator to 
record them. Gradually during the 1910s, as the demand for narrative films increased, 
specialists were trained to assist the director to make movies faster. Writers thought up 
story lines, scenic artists painted backgrounds, and designers fashioned appropriate 
costumes. 

Soon film-makers realized that it was less expensive to shoot the story out of order, rather 
than chronologically record it as it might be staged in a theatre. Once all planned scenes 
were filmed, an editor could reassemble them, following the dictates of the script. All this 
required a carefully thought out, prearranged plan to calculate the minimum cost in 
advance. Such project became known as the shooting script. 

The Hollywood studio had to fashion shooting scripts which would turn out to be popular 
at the box-office. Gradually, as feature films became longer, stories became more 
complicated, requiring more complex shooting scripts. Paying careful attention to script 
preparation meant faster and cheaper feature film-making. One could make a careful 
estimate of the necessary footage for each scene, and film-makers developed techniques 
to minimize the need for retakes. 

The typical script immediately proclaimed its genre (comedy or drama, for example), 
listed the cast of characters, and sketched a synopsis of the story, and only then went on to 
a scene-by-scene scenario. From this plan, the head of the film company could decide 
whether he wanted to make the movie. The producer could, once the project was 
approved by the studio boss, redo the shooting script to fashion the actual order of 
production. 

The Hollywood production system was not invented, but evolved in response to a number 
of felt imperatives, of which the most important was the need for regular and consistent 
profit. A pioneering role, however, can be ascribed to producer Thomas Ince, working at 
Mutual in 1913. The standard studio working procedure, as devised by Ince, involved a 
studio boss, the film's director, and a continuity script. Once Ince as head producer had 
approved a project, he assigned available buildings for filming, and commissioned writers 
and production artists to create the necessary script, sets, and costumes. Back-up systems, 
such as an internal police force to keep out crowds, or fire-fighters to assist when wooden 
sets burned, meant that by the early 1920s studio lots, covering many acres, operated as 
veritable sub-cities within the urban environs of Los Angeles. 

Studio bosses planned a programme of films a year in advance. Sets were efficiently used 
over and over again, and adapted for different stories. Art directors designed and 
constructed sets; casting directors found the talent; make-up artists perfected the 
glamorous movie look; and cinematographers were picked to shoot scripts as written. 

Time was of the essence, so actors were shuttled from film to film. Often multiple 
cameras were used for complicated shots (for example, a battlefield sequence) to avoid 

having to stage them twice. And always present was the continuity clerk, who checked 
that, when shooting was completed, the film could be easily reassembled. 



DISTRIBUTION AND CONTROL OF THE MARKET 

If Lice pioneered this Hollywood studio 'factory' production system, it was Adolph 
Zukor who taught Hollywood how fully and properly to exploit it. By 1921 Zukor had 
fashioned the largest film company in the world ~ his Famous Players. Five years earlier 
he had merged twelve producers and the distributor, Paramount, to form the Famous 
Players-Lasky Corporation. By 1917 his new company included stars such as Mary 
Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Gloria Swanson, Pauline Frederick, and Blanche Sweet. 
Two years later, about the time Pickford and Fairbanks left to form United Artists, a 
quarter of the cinemas in the USA were regularly presenting Famous Players films. 

Famous Players began to block book its yearly output of 50 to 100 feature films, which 
meant that the theatre owner who sought to show the films of Mary Pickford had also to 
take pictures featuring less well-known Famous Players stars. In turn. Famous Players 
used these guaranteed bookings to test and develop new stars, and to try new story genres. 
When major theatre owners began to balk at the risks involved, Zukor stepped in, 
acquired theatres, and set up his own theatre chain. 

Such a large real estate venture needed more investment than could be financed with the 
cash on hand. Zukor therefore turned to the Wall Street investment banking firm of Kuhn 
Loeb for the necessary $10 million. At that time Kuhn Loeb was an outsider on Wall 
Street, a small Jewish-run business in a world of WASP-dominated institutions. In time, 
however, the company would grow into a financial giant, partly on the basis of deals with 
expanding film companies from the west coast like Famous Players. Hollywood may have 
been over 2,000 miles from New York City, but to gain crucial financing not available 
from conservative west coast bankers, Zukor showed the industry that eastern money was 
there to be tapped. 

During the 1920s Famous Players became a high-flyer on the New York Stock Exchange. 

Others soon followed. Marcus Loew put together Metro-Goldwyn-Maker William Fox 
expanded his film company as did Carl Laemmle with his Universal Studios. Even 
stalwart independents United Artists built a theatre chain. Thus a handful of major, 
vertically integrated companies came to dominate and define Hollywood. 

It was not enough however, that this small handful of companies controlled all the movie 
stars and theatres. They sought to expand their markets beyond the US border, to establish 
distribution all over the world. The First World War offered a crucial opening. While other 
national cinemas were constrained, the leading Hollywood companies moved to make the 
world their marketplace. Although the average cost for Hollywood features of the day 
rarely ranged beyond $500,000, expanding distribution across the globe meant revenues 
regularly topped $1,000,000. Adolph Zukor, ever aggressive, led the way with a series of 
spectacular foreign deals, and was able during the years prior to the coming of sound to 
effect a stranglehold on the world-wide market-place. 

To maintain conditions for maximizing profits abroad, the major Hollywood companies 
formed an association, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association of 
America (MPPDA), and hired former Postmaster-General Will H. Hays to keep these 
international markets open. With Hays as an unofficial ambassador, assisted by a willing 
US State Department under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, the MPPDA 

fought to make sure that foreign countries permitted Holl5WOod corporations to operate 
with an absence of constraint. 

By the mid- 1920s, Hollywood dominated not only the major English-speaking markets 
of Great Britain, Canada, and Australia, but most of continental Europe except for 
Germany and the Soviet Union, and had successfully expanded into South America, 
Central America, and the Caribbean. This crippled the development of rival studio 
systems, except in isolated locations. For example, Japan at the time was not an 
international trader, but a nation that kept to itself Although Hollywood films were 
popular with Japanese audiences, a native studio system was able to grow and rival 
Hollywood in a way a British or French industry never could. Germany also retained 
some degree of autonomy, though even this began to be undermined by the end of the 
1920s, with Hollywood companies tempting away many leading German artists, and 
striking deals with the major German company, Ufa. 

In an attempt to limit Hollywood penetration, a number of nations enacted governmental 
protection for their film industries. The Germans, followed by the French, devised the 
'contingent system', whereby Hollywood imports were restricted to a certain number per 
year. The British quota system, set up in 1927, was designed to set aside a certain 
proportion of screen time for British films on the home market, but it was framed in such 
a way that Hollywood companies were able to open up a production facility in Britain and 
make films that would qualify as 'British'. 

Indeed Hollywood's continued international monopoly forced film entrepreneurs in other 
countries to struggle to please their native audiences, somehow to 'better' Hollywood. But 
with their control of international distribution, the Hollywood corporations could and 
would define appropriate standards of film style, form, content, and money-making. 
Imitation would not work, however competitive the product. 


THE PICTURE PALACE 

The production and distribution of films constituted only two of the three essential pegs 
of institutional Hollywood power. Movie moguls knew that money came through the 
theatrical box-office and thus sought some measure of control over exhibition, the third 
crucial sector of the film business. If ' Hollywood' was initially a group of California 
studios and offices for distribution throughout the world, it also came to include a cluster 
of movie palaces situated on main streets from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago to 
Dallas, and, within a short time, London and Paris as well. 

The modem movie palace era commenced in 1914 with Samuel 'Roxy' Rothapfel's 
opening of the 3,000-seat Strand in 1914 in New York. Roxy combined a live vaudeville 
show with movies. His vaudeville 'presentation' offered a little something extra that 
attracted audiences away from more ordinary movie houses down the street. Roxy's 
shows opened with a house orchestra of fifty musicians playing the national anthem. Then 
came a newsreel, a travelogue, and a comic short, followed by the live stage show. Only 
then came the feature film. 

The movie palace itself was far more than just a theatre. The splendor of its architecture 
and the 'touch of class' lent by the ubiquitous ushers evoked a high-class fantasyland. 
Adolph Zukor soon caught on to Roxy's innovations and swooped in to purchase a string 
of movie palace theatres, thus gaining control of a fully integrated system of motion 
picture production, distribution, and exhibition. 

Roxy was never able to sustain his economic enterprise and sold out. Chicago's Balaban 
& Katz, however, developed an economic system for making millions of dollars from 
their movie palace empire and, in the period immediately after the First World War, 
pioneering exhibitors took their cue for maximizing profits from the extraordinary success 
of this Chicago corporation. Indeed, Adolph Zukor approached Balaban & Katz and the 
two operations merged and created Paramount Pictures in 1925, marking the true 
affirmation of Hollywood studio system in its three-part strategy of domination. 

Balaban & Katz's success began when their Central Park Theatre opened in October 1917. 
This mighty picture palace became an immediate success, and Sam Katz, as corporate 
planner and president, put together a syndicate of backers who had all been wildly 
successful with their own Chicago-based businesses: Julius Rosenwald, head of Sears- 
Roebuck; William Wrigley, Jr., the chewing-gum magnate; and John Hertz, Chicago's taxi 
king and later innovator of the rental car network. With this support, Balaban & Katz 
expanded rapidly, leading the nascent movie exhibition business from a marginal leisure- 
time industry to center stage in the economy of entertainment. 

Balaban & Katz devoted strategic care to the location of theatres. Until then, theatre 
owners had chosen sites in the prevailing entertainment district. Balaban & Katz, 
however, constructed their first three movie palaces in outlying business centers on the 
edge of Chicago, away from the center of town, selecting points at which the affluent 
middle class could be expected to congregate. For them it was not enough simply to open 
a movie house anywhere; one had to take the show to a transportation crossroads. Rapid 
mass transit had enabled the middle class and the rich to move to the edge of the city to 
the first true suburbs. It was this audience, able and willing to pay high prices for 
luxurious shows, that Balaban & Katz set out to cultivate. 

The architecture of the movie palace insulated the public from the outside world and 
provided an opulent stage for the entertainment. The Chicago architectural firm headed by 
the brothers George and C. W. Rapp designed the new-style theatres by mixing design 
elements from nearly all past eras and contemporaneous locales, among them classic 
French and Spanish designs and contemporary art deco renderings. Film-goers soon came 
to expect triumphal arches, monumental staircases, and grand, column-lined lobbies 
(inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles). Fa9ades were equally dramatic. Strong 
vertical lines were accentuated by ascending pilasters, windows, and towers, sweeping 
high above the tiny adjacent shop-fronts. The actual theatre building was made from a 
rigid, steel shell, on which plaster-made decorations hung in brilliant purples, golds, 
azures, and crimsons. Massive steel trusses supported thousands of people in one or two 
balconies. 

Outside, colossal electric signs could be seen for miles. The upright signs towered several 
storeys high, flashing forth their messages in several colors. Behind them, stained-glass 
windows reflected the lights into the lobby, evoking an ecclesiastical atmosphere and 
linking the theatre to the traditional, respected institutional architecture of the past. 

Once inside, patrons weaved through a series of vestibules, foyers, lobbies, lounges, 
promenades, and waiting rooms designed to impress and excite. The lobbies and foyers 
were, if anything, more spectacular than the architectural fantasy outside. Decorations 
included opulent chandeliers, classical drapery on walls and entrances, luxurious chairs 
and fountains, and grand spaces for piano or organ accompaniment for waiting crowds. 
And since there always seemed to be a queue, keeping newly arriving customers happy 

was as important as entertaining those already seated. Inside the auditorium, everyone had 
a perfect view of the screen, and careful acoustical planning ensured the orchestral 
accompaniment to the silent films could be heard even in the furthest reaches of the 
balcony. 

One commentator compared these Balaban & Katz theatres to baronial halls or grand 
hotels in which one might have tea or attend a ball. Balaban & Katz sought to make its 
upwardly mobile patrons feel as if they had come home to the haunts of a modem 
business tycoon. 

Balaban & Katz offered free child care, rooms for smoking, and picture galleries in the 
foyers and lobbies. In the basement of each movie palace a complete playground included 
slides, sand-pits, and other objects of fun for younger children left in the care of nurses 
while their parents upstairs enjoyed the show. 

Ushers maintained a constant quiet decorum within the auditorium proper. They guided 
patrons through the maze of halls and foyers, assisted the elderly and small children, and 
handled any emergencies. Balaban & Katz recruited their corps from male college 
students, dressed them in red uniforms with white gloves and yellow epaulets, and 
demanded they be obediently polite even to the rudest of patrons. All requests had to end 
with a 'thank you'; under no circumstances could this be accepted. 

The Balaban & Katz stage shows outdid even Roxy by developing local talent into stars' 
to equal Mary Pickford or Charlie Chaplin. The shows were elaborate mini-musicals with 
spectacular settings and intricate lighting effects. They celebrated holidays, fads of the 
day, heroic adventures, and all the highlights of the Roaring Twenties from the Charleston 
to the exploits of Charles Lindbergh to the new medium of radio. For their orchestras and 
organists, who provided music for the silent films, Balaban & Katz also depended on a 
star system. Jesse Crawford became an organist as well known as any Chicagoan of the 
1920s. In 1923 his wedding to fellow organist Helen Anderson was the talk of Chicago's 
tabloids. When Sam Katz took the pair to New York, the Chicago newspapers mourned 
the loss in the same way they would the departure of a sports hero. 

Most of the features described above could be easily copied by any theatre chain willing 
to make the necessary investment. One part of the Balaban & Katz show, however, was 
unique. Balaban & Katz offered the first air-conditioned movie theatres in the world, 
providing summertime comfort no middle-class citizen in the sweltering Midwestern 
states could long resist. After 1926 most important movie palaces either installed air 
conditioning or built the new theatre around it. 

There had been crude experiments with blowing air across blocks of ice, but prior to 
Balaban & Katz's Central Park Theatre most movie houses simply closed during the 
summer or opened to tiny crowds. The movie palace air conditioning apparatus took up an 
entire basement room with more than 15,000 feet of heavy-duty pipe, giant 
240horsepower electric motors, and two 1,000-pound flywheels. 

Soon summer became the peak movie-going season. With its five-part strategy ~ location, 
architecture, service, stage shows, and air conditioning ~ Balaban & Katz set the scene 
for a redefinition of movie-going in the USA. The rest of the world followed cautiously, 
adopting or adapting some features of the new system as circumstances permitted. In 
most European cities prime sites for movie theatres continued to be in the traditional 
entertainment districts, though in Britain at least a number of well equipped and opulent 

theatres were opened in the developing suburbs of major cities. In poorer countries and 
those with more equable climates air conditioning was an expensive luxury, and summer 
film-going never became as popular elsewhere as it did in North America. Hollywood 
took advantage of this to phase the release of major films, bringing them out on the 
domestic market in the summer and elsewhere in the world in the autumn. 

With the merger with Famous Players, Sam Katz successfully transferred the Balaban & 
Katz system to Paramount's national chain of theatres. Other companies quickly followed 
suit: Marcus Loew with MGM, and Warner Bros, with their First National chain. But 
none could rival the success of Adolph Zukor and Paramount. As the silent era drew to a 
close, it was Zukor and Paramount who had the top stars, the most world-wide 
distribution, and the most extensive and prestigious theatre chain ~ the very model of the 
integrated business through which Hollywood's power was asserted. 

This Hollywood system crested in the heady days prior to the Great Depression. 
Hollywood as an industrial institution had come to dominate the world of popular 
entertainment as no institution had before. The coming of sound simply eliminated 
competition from the stage and vaudeville. But change was on its way, precipitated by the 
Depression and by the rise of the new technologies of radio and television. Hollywood at 
the end of the 1920s and throughout the 1930s was faced by a series of shocks -falling 
audiences, the loss of some overseas markets, threats of censorship, and anti-monopoly 
legislation. But it adjusted and survived, thanks to the solid foundations laid by its 
pioneers. 



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