“Television is like the American toaster, you push the button and the same thing pops up everytime.”
The New Golden Age of Hollywood
I was wrong. I romanticized the era from 1920 to 1960 in Hollywood as a golden era. This was when movie making was done right with the best directors, actors, writers, choreographers and so much more.
I could watch on Turner Classic Movies and see fantastic movies like Bringing Up Baby or Gone with the Wind and think that that was a wonderful time. I was also willing to overlook the fact that actors got trapped in contracts and could not work for other studios because, well, it was worth it.
Hollywood spewed out movies of all kinds. The big studios forced theaters to take packages of movies (one A list and four B list). So, the ratio was four to one of less-than-brilliant movies. Gangster movies and cowboy movies and monster movies were abundant, if one was a hit; then it became a series.
Tarzan was a great book and a fun movie which became a series; maybe ten movies over twenty years. The Thin Man, Maise, Blondie, Hopalong Cassidy, Frankenstein and the Mexican Spitfire easily come to mind but there were so many more. Fairly low budget and easy to make, Hollywood cranked them out.
Sure, with nostalgia we can go back and love them. War movies, film noir, patriotic movies and the stars like Mickey Rooney who made a ton of flicks. It goes on and on. Because we remember Tracy and Hepburn fondly as the A List, we kind of skew our opinion of the time.
Here’s the deal. It is no different today. We are a fickle audience. While enjoying very good movies like The Shape of Water; we are also happy to see anything with Melissa McCarthy in it. Where once a movie might run for months in the theater since they had no choice, today we have content spilling out of Hollywood. As easy as it was to make a Tarzan movie so too is Despicable Me 3.
Hollywood and Netflix are churning out material and hoping that one might be a hit. They are not trying very hard. If the audience likes a show for any reason, they are happy to make more of the same show and somehow we don’t notice the 90% of the material that simply ran down the drain, forgotten.
Seriously, no one is trying very hard to re-make a tv show like Roseanne or King Kong. The idea of blockbuster movie hinges almost entirely on remake or franchise. And that was true then as it is now. The wish of sequel is more of the same but better please and the box office will zoom up even if the flick itself isn’t very good.
The key is distribution. Whether it is your bloated cable package or a big studio, getting it out there is what it is all about. While the big studios back then had all the crew and company and sound stages to make a whole lot of movies, today it is much cheaper with digital enhancement and editing tools in the home.
Nothing much has changed in Hollywood. I know that even if Netflix tried to rule the entertainment world, I will always be happy to get out of the house and go do the theater with a bucket of popcorn and love the silver screen.