The past two years of this project have been incredible. Participants have shared research, provided thoughtful commentary, and written amazing essays. We can hardly wait to see what happens this year!
The Classic Movie History Project 2016 will run for six days, August 5-10, with two topics per day. Each host will facilitate four topics, all of which fit into three broad categories:
See? Isn’t this fab? We’ll get into topic details below, but first, the Fine Print.
If you’d like to join us – and we hope you will – here are some guidelines, rules, regulations, must-dos, please-dos and other tidbits…
Remember, the topics below are suggestions, just to give you some ideas. Like Fritzi says, “As long as your topic has to do with making movies, movies themselves or the people who made movies, we want you aboard!”
An updated list of participants can be found on Fritzi’s site HERE.
MGM musicals. Warner gangsters. Toho monsters. The studios of the classic film era were responsible for artistic triumphs, trash and tragedy. The Studios is all about the house style of longstanding and respected industry players like Fox, Warner Brothers and MGM. It also covers foreign powerhouses like Gaumont, Ufa and Mosfilm. Poverty row and independent producers will get their day in the sun as well with coverage of Selznick, Goldwyn and the cowboys of Gower Gulch.
The Publicity Department
Hoopla, hullabaloo and just a touch of carnival barker: that was the winning formula for film publicity. We’ll be covering posters, trailers, tie-ins and soundtracks, as well as publicity stunts, staged scandals and the anything-goes attitude of film advertising. From the tasteful posters of the classic era to the mad stunts of William Castle, The Publicity Department is all about getting rear ends into theater seats.
“You Can’t Do That in the Movies: The Production Code”
The Production Code put an end to explicit naughtiness in movies, but filmmakers continually tried to find ways to work around it. The Production Code will look at the main architects of – and detractors from – the Code. We’ll look at the goals of the Code, notable exemptions, and how it changed the films themselves.
The Magic of Animation
They say the Golden Age of Animation was 1928 to the early 1960s, but animation has been around since the early 1900s. The Magic of Animation will explore different types of film animation, such as traditional 2D, stop-motion, mechanical, puppetry, claymation, etc. We’ll also pay tribute to animation pioneers.
“The openers” is how John Steinbeck referred to them in “East of Eden.” These people who ventured forth into uncharted territory were often naïve, learned hard lessons, made mistakes and persevered. In doing so they permanently changed our culture by changing movie history and this topic is for them. With trailblazing energy they set standards that stand to this day. The groundbreakers – not with shovel or cement in hand, but with a camera, with a microphone, with gestures and words they paved the way and we want to know how they did it.
Before They Were Stars
W.C. Fields made his Broadway debut in an aptly titled musical comedy, “The Ham Tree.” Norma Shearer won a beauty contest at the age of fourteen. Buster Keaton nearly suffocated at a few months old after being accidentally shut in a costume trunk off stage while his mother and father performed. You get the picture. We want to know the highs, the lows and the in-betweens of those whose faces would someday adorn the silver screen.
The Technical Department
Directors and stars get all the attention but what about the brilliant craftspeople who made the movies possible? We’re going to be giving these hardworking editors, special effects wizards, sound engineers, production designers and makeup artists their day in the sun, examining the craft that made classic films so gorgeous.
The Costume Department
That Hollywood look! Or is it Berlin? In any case, movies have always showcased virtuoso fashion design and the stars have always tried to look their very best for their fans. The Costume Department is all about virtuoso fashion design onscreen and off and we’ll be discussing the very best in costuming and red carpet fashion.
Sometimes making movies is difficult, whether it’s the bickering between the director and lead actor, or the harsh conditions while filming on location. Then there are the box-office bombs that keep studio executives awake at night. Movie Disasters is a no-holds-barred look at Hollywood, uh, “missteps”.
The Wonderful World of Color
Color has been used in film for well over 100 years. The Wonderful World of Color celebrates color innovators, along with larger-than-life color films. We’ll also examine different color techniques, such as tinting, hand-coloring, two and three-color film processes, and glorious Technicolor.
The Family Business
Some of the most interesting stories in Hollywood through the decades have been born of family strife and pressures mixed with the art and business of motion pictures. Some acting families have made a brief appearance in the movies and are forgotten while others like The Barrymores remain popular – whether by truth or legend – generation after generation. Acting “dynasties” are connected to controversy, have won major awards, starred in countless films and directed eternal classics. They’ve also owned major Hollywood studios and passed them down to the next generation and by doing so irrevocably changed the course of history. The Laemmles, The Hustons, The Fondas. Spotlighted here are Hollywood family dynamics.
A Foreign Affair
Hollywood would not have been Hollywood without the talent of foreigners who came to call her their own. From countries the world over foreign talents added a distinct and unforgettable flavor to countless classic movies. The “Such much?” exchange in Curtiz’s Casablanca comes to mind instantly, but that’s just one example and these extraordinary people were legion. The choice is yours and we can’t wait to see who you want to focus on! By the way – if you prefer to write about American stars abroad, that’s great too.
Here’s a handy reference chart you can cut out and tape to your refrigerator!
|Day 1 (Aug 5)||The Studios||Movies Silently|
|The Publicity Dep’t||Movies Silently|
|Day 2 (Aug 6)||The Production Code||Silver Screenings|
|The Magic of Animation||Silver Screenings|
|Day 3 (Aug 7)||The Groundbreakers||Once Upon a Screen|
|The Family Business||Once Upon a Screen|
|Day 4 (Aug 8)||The Technical Dep’t||Movies Silently|
|The Wardrobe Dep’t||Movies Silently|
|Day 5 (Aug 9)||Movie Disasters||Silver Screenings|
|Wonderful World of Color||Silver Screenings|
|Day 6 (Aug 10)||Before They Were Stars||Once Upon a Screen|
|A Foreign Affair||Once Upon a Screen|
We can hardly wait to celebrate Classic Movie History with you. In lieu of cake, please help yourself to one of the banners below.
And join us on Twitter: #MovieHistoryProject.