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Destry Rides Again, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and the Fall of the Hollywood Studio System

analytical Essay
3545 words
3545 words
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Destry Rides Again, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and the Fall of the Hollywood Studio System

Thomas Schatz cites the 1950’s as the inevitable end of the Hollywood film studio system, with the signs appearing as early as the height of the second World War (472). However, the seeds of discontent and disintegration within the system were apparent as soon as the late 1930’s, exemplified in such films as Destry Rides Again (1939, George Marshall) and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939, Frank Capra). The production of these two films and the paths down which they led their star (James Stewart), directors (at least Frank Capra), and studios (Universal and Columbia, respectively) are evidence of the decline of the studio system. The haphazard production of Destry Rides Again and its subsequent success (financially, but not as an enduring classic film) are indicative of a system eating itself alive: so intent on the production of film after film made with almost the same crews and casts that lasting meaning had been all but completely forgotten in favor of financial success and power within the system. This also demonstrates the decline of the fascist executive order of the studios in favor of the hard work and devotion of those directly involved on the film set as well as the increasingly important role of the talent agent as the intermediary between the talent and the studios. Frank Capra’s eventually freelance auteurship, in the wake of David O. Selznick and his “independent” film productions, particularly evident in the production of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, was a notable indicator of the studios’ impending loss of power (Schatz 407). These and other independent and freelance artists (such as Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang)...

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...gton, 11 October 1939”. Variety: A Sixteen Volume Set. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc. 1983

Nachbar, Jack (ed). Focus on the Western. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1974: 132

Newman, Kim. Wild West Movies or How the West was Found, Won, Lost, Lied About, Filmed and Forgotten. London: Bloomsbury. 1990: 135

Nugent, Frank S. “Destry Rides Again, 2 December 1939”. The New York Times Film Reviews. New York: The New York Times and Arno Press. 1970

Nugent, Frank S. “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, 20 October 1939”. The New York Times Film Reviews. New York: The New York Times and Arno Press. 1970

Schatz, Thomas. The Genius of the System. New York: Metropolitan Books. 1988: 235-251

Wright, William. Six Guns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. 1975: 48

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes destry rides again, mr smith goes to washington, and the fall of the hollywood studio system.
  • Analyzes how the haphazard production of destry rides again and its subsequent success (financially, but not as an enduring classic film) indicate the decline of the studio system.
  • Analyzes how independent artists like alfred hitchcock and fritz lang turned the tide against the studios until the balance of power was tipped in favor of the individual filmmakers.
  • Analyzes how universal came under a completely new ownership during the second half of the 1930s. the new owner, j. cheever cowdin, set up robert h. cochrane and charles r. rogers in charge of universal.
  • Analyzes how destry rides again was a product of the studio system, but it also defied industry standards. it was received at the time and is remembered with admiration, though rarely with respect.
  • Analyzes how david selznick, after years at various studios, formed his own film production company in 1935.
  • Analyzes how mr. smith goes to washington is patriotic and advocates democracy to the point of absurdity. it paved the way for his success in destry rides again.
  • Explains that the hollywood studio system of early film was a difficult industry for so-called independents like david o. selznick due to its "fundamentally collaborative" nature.
  • Analyzes how stewart's work with frank capra, destry rides again, and alfred hitchcock paved the way for his career.
  • Analyzes how destry rides again is a classic western film, but critics and writers dismiss it as mindless fluff and escapist entertainment.
  • Analyzes how mr. smith goes to washington is honored and respected as a film which upholds democracy, which in the case of this film is simplistically equated with the state and practice of being american.
  • Analyzes how the reviews of destry rides again mistakenly credit the producer joe pasternak with the role of director, while george marshall was, in fact, the director.
  • Analyzes how destry rides again advocates democracy and blind devotion to colonialist ideals as strongly as, though with greater subtly than, mr. smith goes to washington.
  • Analyzes how the historical and political functions of these films can be seen by their positionality in the history of the film industry, the fall of hollywood studio system, and the rise of independent, more flexible mode of producing films.
  • Explains that "destry rides again, 6 december 1939". variety: a sixteen volume set.
  • Cites wright, william, six guns and society: a structural study of the western, berkeley, los angeles, london, university of california press.
  • Narrates nugent's "mr. smith goes to washington, 11 october 1939". variety: a sixteen volume set.
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