The Hollywood’s golden era lasted about 20 years, between these two landmarks: the talkies’ appearance (which left the silent film in crisis) and the television’s popularization (which worried all the film industry). This period had its peak between the 40’s and 50’s, especially in this last, when the Star System was very strong in the society through the several artists whose studios used to use in its productions. This made a lot of movies reach the maximum of popularity and success.
As mentioned before, one of the main characteristics of this period in the cinema is the movies’ subdivision in genres, each one presenting a series of constant elements which show the function and characteristics of each movie. It’s also visible that, with the movies’ subdivision in genres and the Star System’s power, the artists often stayed stuck to only one genre, what created the stereotypes as for the artists as for the movies. This practice is very common until nowadays, because it creates the identification with the public and, consequently, the consumption, what makes the studios and all the film industry keep making money.
With the talkies’ appearance, all the film industry had to change, adapting itself to this innovation. So, with the possibility of using the sound, why not to use the music? Then, the Musical genre arises in the movies, with some iconic artists who keep representing this genre until today, as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. And, this genre had its peak in the 40’s, when some memorable movies were produced.
Another big genre stood out in this decade was the Film noir:
Movie’s style primarily associated to thrillers, which portrays their main characters in a cynical and antipathetic world. The Film noir is derivative from Big Depression epoch’s suspense novels and from 30’s horror movies’ visual style. The first Films noirs appeared in the beginning of 40’s decade. The “Noirs” were historically filmed in black-and-white and they were characterized by high contrast, with roots in the characteristic cinematography from German Expressionism. [WIKIPEDIA, online].
Also, one of the most known genres of the American movies is the Western, and especially in the classic period, this was a popular one. The golden age of this genre has like maximum exponent the job of the director John Ford, who boosted the John Wayne’s career.
Besides the movies of these genres, there were other important and famous movies in the beginning of 40’s decade like: “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940); “Citizen Kane” (1941); and “Casablanca” (1942).
Focusing on the 50’s decade this was a prosperity time for USA and the production from Hollywood because the leisure had become an important part in the American life and the cinema was an essential part in this leisure. According to Wasson (2011): “It was the 50’s and the United States apparently on vacation. […] In these postwar years, the industry of the anxiety’s relief peaked unprecedented, increasing more over the decade”. (WASSON, 2011, p. 39).
In this period, as in the 40’s, it was produced unforgettable Musical movies, some Films noirs and also some Westerns…
On the other hand, it was another genre that stood out in the 50’s decade: the Comedy, more specifically, the Romantic comedy. And, if in the 40’s decade, the actors who dominated the movie screens, in the 50’s, the actresses who commanded. It was in this decade that stood out a phenomenon called Marilyn Monroe, who is the first actress remembered by a lot of people when it is asked something about the 50’s movies. However, as mentioned before, in the classic period of American cinema, especially in the 50’s decade, there was an extreme dialectic to women. So, in the contrary side of Marilyn Monroe, appeared Audrey Hepburn, in movies where she acted in more behaved roles.
Another recurrent genre of the 50’s is the Drama, sometimes involving a Romance, others involving a War, but always with the drama as background.
The 50’s also was the career’s decade of two actors: Grace Kelly and James Dean.
Grace Kelly – Monaco’s Princess – considered the 13th legend of world cinema according to American Film Institute, starred 11 movies between 1951 and 1956 and received 10 nominations for the main awards in the film industry, which won 06 times. James Dean, considered a cultural icon, representing the youth of the 50’s decade. He acted in 07 movies (where in 04 of them, Dean wasn’t credited), also between 1951 and 1956. He received 02 posthumous nominations for Academy Awards (1956 / 1957).
– In the next posts I’ll
talk write more specifically about some movies of this golden period. See you soon!
CINEMA western. Wikipedia. Available in: <http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western>. Access in: 2014, May 25th.
FILM noir. Wikipedia. Available in: <http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_noir>. Access in: 2014, May 25th.
GRACE Kelly. Wikipedia. Available in: <http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_Kelly>. Access in: 2014, May 25th.
JAMES Dean. Wikipedia. Available in: <http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Dean>. Access in: 2014, May 25th.
STUDIO System / Star System / Gêneros [Genres]. Slideshare. 2009. Available in: <http://pt.slideshare.net/guestcda059/studio-system-star-system-gneros>. Access in: 2014, May 25th.
WASSON, Sam. Quinta Avenida, 5 da manhã: Audrey Hepburn, Bonequinha de luxo e o surgimento da mulher moderna [Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the dawn of the modern woman]. Translated by José Rubens Siqueira. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2011. Cap. 01.