The End of Old Hollywood
In class on Thursday, we talked about Hollywood’s legal problems after World War II. During this period, Hollywood’s own reputation was at stake and the courts dealt them blow after blow. Is it possible to say that this issue with the studio system may have played a hand in their demise in the late sixties? Or is it a good choice to consider that the end of the production code coincided with the end of the studio system?
With the court case United States v. Paramount and others like it, Hollywood’s control of the theaters and the control of actors was not a good thing. This allowed for less competition and the studios had to come up with a better way to get a head start of each other. In later years, teenage and disaster films really hit it out of the park for these companies. Actors and actresses who were against the studios’ longer contracts really showed how the companies did not respect the people who worked for them; essentially, the contracts made them paid slaves. It was a situation that not only showed Hollywood in a bad light, but went further by damaging the industry’s reputation.
As Hollywood changed course after World War II, Americans also changed with it. Corporate issues led to legal cases and the actors were not stuck in a long legal contract anymore. A change in direction was felt across the industry and would only lead these companies to find other options. The courts had played a hand in the end of the studio system, and as a result, the production code. The new competition spurred film directors to push the boundaries on their films; films that were separate from what the code supported.