The Golden Age of Hollywood

The 1930's 40's and 50's would witness the zenith of the Hollywood Studio. Consolidated, vertically integrated corporations, studios such as Warner Brothers, Paramount and Metro Goldwyn Mayer produced feature films like Model T's from a Henry Ford assembly line. Still production could not keep up with audience's demands for more films. The Golden Age saw the creation of some of Hollywood's most enduring films. We learned the meaning of love amidst civil unrest in Gone with the Wind (1939). We listened to Humphry Bogart echo the policy of a nation with the now immortal line "Here's looking at you, kid" in Casablanca (1942). A rebel was born in the person of short lived star James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1956). We fell in love with Jean Harlowe, who's Bombshell (1933) was inherited by Marilyn Monroe as she stole our hearts in Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953). During the years of the Great Depression, World War II, and the 1950's production supervisors such as Irving Thalberg at MGM, Hal Wallis at Warner Bros. and David O. Selznick at RKO demonstrated complete control over all aspects of film production including its cast and director. The breaking down of this consolidated control and the desire for more individual creativity on the part of actors and directors lead to the breakup of the studio system. During the 1960's and beyond Hollywood studios would no longer have actors and directors under long term contracts as had existed for more than half a century.