Big Announcement! The Classic Movie History Project 2016


It’s Back, Bigger Than Ever!

We’re thrilled to announce the Classic Movie History Project 2016! Fritzi of Movies, Silently, Aurora of Once Upon a Screen and yours truly are exploring the history of classic film.

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 2016 Project

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:

  • The People hosted by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen
  • The System hosted by Fritzi at Movies, Silently
  • The Films hosted by yours truly

See? Isn’t this fab? We’ll get into topic details below, but first, the Fine Print.

House Rules

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…

  • Posts can be from the dawn of cinema until 1975.
  • No duplicates.  No duplicates.
  • We’d be forever grateful if you’d leave the details of your chosen topic and the category it belongs in on the corresponding host blog as listed below.  And link to that blog in your post to keep thing orderly.  We’ll see how that goes!  FYI – the category and topic you choose determines on which day to post.
  • Feel free to be imaginative – pictorials, videos, podcasts and other multimedia items are A-OK with us.
  • To join us in this historical endeavor, simply contact any one of your friendly hosts and we will add you to the roster.  Please be sure to include the address of your blog, the section and topic you have chosen.

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.

Dates, Hosts and Topics

Day 1 (Aug. 5): THE SYSTEM – Fritzi at Movies, Silently

The Studios

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.

Day 2 (Aug. 6): THE FILMS – Yours Truly at Silver Screenings

“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.

Day 3 (Aug. 7): THE PEOPLE – Aurora at Once Upon a Screen


“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.

Day 4 (Aug. 8): THE SYSTEM – Fritzi at Movies, Silently

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.

Day 5 (Aug. 9): THE FILMS – Yours Truly at Silver Screenings

Movie Disasters

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.

Day 6 (Aug. 10): THE PEOPLE – Aurora at Once Upon a Screen

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 Subject Hosted By
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.



  1. Hi Ruth! I was thinking of writing about “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” (1936), the first Technicolor film to be shot outdoors. My idea is to write about the film itself and how color schemes offer an additional level of meaning to the story, and also maybe a little bit about how the three-strip Technicolor process worked. Would that be okay?

    -Cátia. xo
    Back to Golden Days (

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, here’s my idea, and I think it falls under “the films” category, although it has aspects of all three. This is my year to cover 1916, and the movie most film buffs know from the year is “Intolerance.” It’s funny, though, because it wasn’t the blockbuster people expected as a follow-up to “The Birth of a Nation” and there are lots of stories about the production, Griffith’s intentions, and how it fits into his legacy. I’d like to look not just at the movie itself, but the backstory behind it and all of the stories, true and otherwise, that film historians have circulated about it in the years since.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How interesting !!
    I’d love to contribute; but since am unsure whether I can, I shan’t be able to commit, at the moment!! Shall let you know, closer to the date!! Hopefully, I’ll be able to!! Looking Forward to it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d love to do Mae West’s entrance into film for the Groundbreakers category. Has anyone snatched her up for that? She could fit into pre-Code too, obviously, but I’m most interested in her writing. Glad to see this blogathon again! A wonderful film education each time…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a great blogathon with so many possibilities! May I write on the Fairbanks’ for the family topic? I may come up with other ideas for other days but definitely want to take advantage of the family one if I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you are running this project again as it’s such an important history lesson. Please could I write about Frances Marion as a ‘groundbreaker’? I’d like to submit another post, but might have to see how my schedule is looking a little closer to the event 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been looking for an excuse to FINALLY force myself to do something I’ve been putting off for years. Watch my DVD of “The Conqueror”. When I saw the banner, I just knew someone else would have snagged it, but I didn’t see it in the messages. So what do you say? Can I torture myself for the movie Disasters day?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Ruth. Would it be possible if I change my entries. I wanted to do D.W Griffith, but I’ve searched all the libraries, and can’t get a book on him. I’m going to have to save him for next year, and I’ll have more time or order a book by then. And for the Barrymore’s, I figured that I’m always writing about the Barrymore’s, and would love to offer something new and different. I will still do two or three entries. I just have to brainstorm some topics.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Ruth, I’m focusing my own personal learning on westerns this summer, so I would like to write about Harry Carey Sr. & Jr. for the family topic. Will narrow it down, maybe focusing on the centrality of John Ford to both of their careers. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey there, I was just checking to make sure I had my dates right for my Young Sisters piece- do I submit on the 7th or the 10th? The grid says 7th, but the first part, explaining the Family Business section says the 10th. 🙂


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