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The Genius of the System

Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era

2010
Author:

Thomas Schatz
Preface by Steven Bach

The Genius of the System

An indispensable account of Hollywood's blend of business and art

Thomas Schatz recalls Hollywood’s Golden Age from the 1920s until the dawn of television in the late 1940s. Through detailed analysis of major Hollywood moviemakers including Universal, Warner Bros., and MGM, he reminds us of a time when studios had distinct personalities and the relationship between contracts and creativity was not mutually exclusive.

Anyone who has thought about the storytelling wisdom, the near-hallucinatory visual force of some movies produced by the system, already agrees with Mr. Schatz . . . but one finishes the book being convinced all over again.

New York Times, 1989

In The Genius of the System, Thomas Schatz recalls Hollywood’s Golden Age from the 1920s until the dawn of television in the late 1940s, when quality films were produced swiftly and cost efficiently thanks to the intricate design of the system. Schatz takes us through the rise and fall of individual careers and the making—and unmaking—of movies such as Frankenstein, Casablanca, and Hitchcock’s Notorious. Through detailed analysis of major Hollywood moviemakers including Universal, Warner Bros., and MGM, he reminds us of a time when studios had distinct personalities and the relationship between contracts and creativity was not mutually exclusive.

The Genius of the System

Thomas Schatz is professor of communication at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of several books, including Hollywood Genres and Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s.

The Genius of the System

Anyone who has thought about the storytelling wisdom, the near-hallucinatory visual force of some movies produced by the system, already agrees with Mr. Schatz . . . but one finishes the book being convinced all over again.

New York Times, 1989

A vivid and sensitive retelling of Hollywood’s past creative battles, and an implicit guide to the future.

Film Comment

[An] original, monumental survey of Hollywood’s film studios during their most glorious period.

Publishers’ Weekly

Brings the pace and confusion and inspiration of filmmaking to life . . . Schatz has made a lasting contribution to film history.

Directors Guild of America Newsletter

There was much to criticize in the Hollywood system, and much to marvel at. But one can't do either without the means to make sense of it. This book provides that.

Elizabeth Kendall, The New York Times Book Review

Schatz has produced a landmark study of the studio era which significantly alters our perceptions of how Hollywood worked.

Journal of American Studies

Arguably the most significant study of the Hollywood system during the studio era.

Scope: An Online Journal of Film and Television Studies