From the beginning of sound in film to the end of the Hollywood Studio System

So early last week I was surfing around on half.com engaged in my annual summer buying spree of entertainment media, and I decided to pick up a few American movie classics on DVD. I bought some of my old favorites from back in film school, like The Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil, and a few other film noir gems. One of them was Mildred Pierce, the 1945 Michael Curtiz suspense thriller featuring Joan Crawford's only Oscar-winning performance, and the movie that revitalized her career. It's a fantastic cinematic work, and a great example of the genre.

And as I often do, I asked myself the question, Is this noded on E2? The answer: Yeah, a few lines. Nathan, this is unacceptable. So then I checked to see if Joan Crawford had been given a biography befitting her stature as a Hollywood legend. Our faithful friend Lord Brawl had spent a few paragraphs on her many years ago, but that was about it. I could almost hear Joanie lamenting: You wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I weren't still in this chair! I realized it was time for a Quest!

Hollywood's Golden Age was truly magical. It was an era that shaped the foundation of visual entertainment as we know it today, and saw the gestation of screen stardom and the alluring Tinseltown image that have become global icons of American culture (for better or worse). They just don't make 'em like they used to, but they keep on trying! So down to business: Just the FAQs, ma'am...

What kind of content do you want?

I'm looking for writeups on everything and everyone of interest that was a part of Hollywood from 1927 (the development of sound in film) until 1959 (ten years after United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. and the Supreme Court ruling which ended the old studio system). This is not limited to movie reviews! The nodegel needs all sorts of information:

  • Biographies on the famous and powerful: Actors and actresses, directors, producers, studio executives — even important technical crew like cinematographer Gregg Toland, or screenwriters like Herman J. Mankiewicz. I want to know about voice actor Vance "Pinto" Colvig, who was the original "Goofy" in Disney's animated short features. If someone else comes along after and writes about his son (Vance Jr.) in the same node, the reward will be most generous. Nowhere on the Internet but E2 could you find info about both those obscure guys in the same place. Make it happen, baby.

  • Historical information about the great movie studios: They all have nodeshells, but there are few writeups of merit. For instance, United Artists is good, but it needs more info. These studios began as small private enterprises and grew into giant, multi-billion dollar companies! They bankrolled most of the greatest films ever made, and ruined just as many that could have been great. The stories behind the scenes, on the back lots and in the smoke-filled board rooms, are the stuff of legend. Recall their stardust memories for us, back when Hollywood was young.

  • Showbiz stuff: While Oscar® has some reasonable content, Academy Award® contains virtually nothing! The first one was given out in 1928, so it falls within the Quest's boundaries. And while The Hollywood Sign has an excellent writeup, the Hollywood Walk of Fame (first envisioned in 1958) contains nothing but an E1 posting that doesn't even have any punctuation! (This has recently been remedied by in10se.) Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater was opened in 1927, but it is nothing but a nodeshell. (This has been rectified by izubachi.) These are all ripe opportunites for interesting writeups, and there are many others.

Of course, noding about the movies themselves is okay too. In February of last year, Demeter ran a very successful Quest for film reviews which produced nearly 250 new writeups for the database over the course of ten days . If you decide to node about a film, it must have been released between 1927 and 1959 for it to count in this Quest. Your writeup should contain:

  • Title: (of course)
  • Plot synopsis: An overview of the story, pointing out any major spoilers ahead of time
  • General info: When it was released, what studio released it, the list of principal actors, who directed and produced it, its MPAA rating, and so on. Do not skimp on the general info! If you think the run time of the film isn't important to mention, you're wrong!
  • Genre
  • Why you like it, or why you don't: What makes this film especially good, or bad? What did you feel when you watched it, what were the high and low points? Is it a three-hour movie that felt too short, or ninety minutes that dragged towards eternity? If this film is considered a "classic," why is it important?
  • Any other relevant information: Did it introduce a new star? Was it artistically innovative? Is it the first film to ever be shot in CinemaScope?

When will the Quest start and end?

New submissions must be created between the time stamp on this writeup and 23:59:59 UTC (E2 Server Time) on August 13, 2003 — that's the better part of two weeks.

What will I get for submitting a writeup?

The admiration of your fellow noders and the satisfaction of a job well done. Oh, and I will also be handing out XP like candy. Every good, comprehensive writeup of at least 500 words will earn the author an Academy Award-size 50 XP blessing and the usual likelihood of upvotes and chings. Exceptional writeups (which does not necessarily equate to "long") will earn extra points. "Good effort" writeups will earn a Hollywood-size 25 XP. All XP rewards will be given at some point after the conclusion of the Quest. I will notify you via /msg after you have received your blessing, or earlier if I have issues with your submission.

After you've posted your writeup, /msg me and soft link your writeup to this node — I'll hard link it below. Please do not hard link this Quest title in your writeup. A year from now, nobody will care that your hard effort was the result of bribery.

Will rewrites of old nodes count?

Yes! No point in wasting good effort. Well begun is half done, or so the saying goes. If you have a dusty old writeup that matches the theme for this Quest, send me a /msg and link to it. I must evaluate the writeup in its current condition before you update it, or you don't get credit for the update. I reserve the right to reject your writeup as a candidate for updating in this Quest. If ya don't like it, tough beans. Good, comprehensive updates will receive a timely C! from yours truly (to attract voter traffic) and a generous 35 XP blessing. If I catch you sneaking in nuke requests for your old stuff and then reposting it as new, it will be disqualified from the Quest. I can see your Node Heaven, so you can't trick me. Neener neener.

Is there a minimum word count?

Yeah, but I'm not going to set a number. If you can exhaust your topic in 500 words, good for you. But if it looks to me like you might need to add a little more content, I'll let you know. If you get to 5,000 words, you can wrap it up. Somewhere between those two extremes is probably the sweet spot.

What should I avoid?

Topics that are already adequately covered — check the database to see what's already here, before you spend hours writing your contribution. Feel free to supersede short writeups, but don't give me another perspective on Panavision or the 100 Greatest American films.

Plagiarism — if you cut and paste from a review site (or anywhere else, for that matter), your writeup will be immediately deleted and your name will be added to a standing list of candidates for administrative node audit. The only exception to this is using IMDb for cast lists — that's okay, as long as you add substantial content of your own. (Ironically, some of this text was stolen from Demeter without permission, but I modified it enough that I doubt she would care.) Do not test me on the plagiarism issue — I take the matter very seriously, and I will be checking.

Anything else I should know?

Keep in mind that this is a Quest about Hollywood first and foremost. If you want to write about the influences of Lumière and early French cinema, that's great! But that stuff is only tangentially Hollywood, and beyond the focus of the Quest, so no blessings for you! Try to stay on topic.

The leader of our intrepid group of E2 celluloid junkies is on summer vacation right now, and I can only imagine his dismay upon returning and finding that he missed this Quest. However, the other members of e2film will be reading the entries carefully, and may offer you some helpful suggestions. They are, as a group, probably a little more inclined to ching movie-related stuff than your average noder.

I encourage you to fine-tune your writeup(s) after the initial posting, as the extra XP benefits will be tallied at the time of the blessing... which should be no later than two weeks after the Quest window closes. That's plenty of time to double-check your facts, and to make sure that your grammar is perfect. And finally, for the love of Everything2,

Don't forget to cite your sources!

Now let's go old school Hollywood.

"Acadamy Award" and "Oscar" are registered trademarks of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
"The Hollywood Sign" and its image are registered trademarks of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

The Entries!

(in order of submission)
  1. Connor Brush by QuietLight
  2. Hollywood Walk of Fame by in10se
  3. Marx Brothers by Delvin the wizard
  4. block booking by BrooksMarlin
  5. Deanna Durbin by no_one
  6. Bing Crosby by Rancid_Pickle
  7. Louis Prima by Rancid_Pickle
  8. Fred Zinnemann by nicky_d
  9. Minnie Mouse by QuietLight
  10. The Lottery Bride by Muffalicious
  11. Luise Rainer by peanut
  12. Ninotchka by TheLady
  13. Herman J. Mankiewicz by Lometa
  14. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Muffalicious
  15. Chinese Theater by izubachi
  16. It Came From Outer Space by DoctorX
  17. Ward Bond by Rancid_Pickle
  18. When Worlds Collide by Rancid_Pickle
  19. Linda Darnell by Taliesin's Muse
  20. Roman Holiday by atriumjake
  21. Vitaphone by Milk
  22. Jennifer Jones by pottedstu
  23. Jack Foley by Milk
  24. The Search for Scarlett by Wiccanpiper
  25. Florence Bush by Rancid_Pickle
  26. John Cassavetes by nicky_d
  27. Burt Lancaster by drownzsurf
  28. International House by Wiccanpiper
  29. United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. by BrooksMarlin
  30. Harold Lloyd by morgdx
  31. Michael Curtiz by drownzsurf
  32. Vance Colvig by oakling
  33. Robert Wise by pottedstu
  34. Royal Wedding by TheLady
  35. Alice Faye by peanut
  36. Miklos Rozsa by metal rozsa
  37. Rebecca by DejaMorgana
  38. George Cukor by caknuck
  39. interocitor by Rancid_Pickle
"Special mention" category for Lord Brawl's writeups that do not qualify for this Quest (as they are unrelated to Hollywood), which are quite good and focus on Canadian cinema of the "Golden Age" period:

The Awards!

(in no particular order)
user oakling was given 750 XP
user drownzsurf was given 750 XP
user Rancid_Pickle was given 550 XP
user Lometa was given 500 XP
user izubachi was given 500 XP
user DejaMorgana was given 500 XP
user peanut was given 300 XP
user pottedstu was given 300 XP
user Wiccanpiper was given 250 XP
user BrooksMarlin was given 250 XP
user QuietLight was given 250 XP
user nicky_d was given 250 XP
user Muffalicious was given 200 XP
user TheLady was given 200 XP
user Milk was given 200 XP
user caknuck was given 150 XP
user Delvin the wizard was given 100 XP
user DoctorX was given 100 XP
user Taliesin's Muse was given 100 XP
user in10se was given 50 XP
user no_one was given 50 XP
user atriumjake was given 50 XP
user morgdx was given 50 XP
user metal rozsa was given 25 XP

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