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Posted by sonny 03/19/2009 @ 01:12

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Movie Review: Aniston, Zahn make a good pair in odd romance of ... - Seattle Post Intelligencer
Both are talented, funny actors who are often cast in the wrong types of movies, or who aren't adequately appreciated when they appear in movies that are perfect for them. Zahn has the goofy-but-sincere thing down pat, like a less mentally handicapped...
Angels and Demons and Religious Politics - Huffington Post
Angels and Demons, movie sequel (and novel prequel) to The Da Vinci Code, opened this weekend. The sequel to one of the most controversial movies in recent memory is opening this weekend. And the collective response is a mild hmm....
'The Red Shoes' takes a bow at Cannes - Los Angeles Times
And if you're looking for more ballet and dance-themed movies, click through to see Culture Monster's recommended list ... "The Company" (2003, d. Robert Altman): Neve Campbell performs her own dance numbers in this story about a rising star in a...
What should be in the 'Star Trek' sequel? (And what shouldn't) - Entertainment Weekly
I have not been a fan of all the series and the movies, but I really enjoyed TNG and even Voyager. I have to say I really like this movie. You might shoot some minor potholes in the plot lines, but it was a damned entertaining film....
Hollywood lands in DC for 'Museum' premiere - The Associated Press
Stiller, who starred in both movies, said he was happy the way the sequel turned out. "The Smithsonian was the springboard for doing the whole thing again," Stiller said. Stiller's character, security guard Larry Daley, comes to Washington to find his...
Movies opening next week - Detroit Free Press
"Dance Flick": The Wayans Brothers set out to parody recent dance movies like "Step Up" and "Save the Last Dance." Rated PG-13 for language and crude and sexual content. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian": Security guard Larry Daley (Ben...
Blockbuster, Inc. F1Q09 Earnings Call Transcript - Seeking Alpha
We estimate that nearly 3 million more people are going to the movies each week in 2009 predominately on weekends and this has been pulling traffic from Blockbuster stores especially on those important weekend nights. The good news is that these titles...
'Public Enemies': Why can't more summer movies be like Johnny Depp ... - Entertainment Weekly
But what makes this movie look like such a relief from everything else splashed up on the big screen this summer is that all the footage we've seen so far is infused with a kind of joy and mischief that so often gets lost in the extreme...
Community Critic: 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' - Centralia Chronicle
By Terry Nelson There are three X-Men movies (2000, 2003, 2006) based on super hero characters from Marvel comics. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” starring Hugh Jackman, attempts to show how Logan became Wolverine. I say “attempts” because some things are...
Rian Johnson's Last Con - IFC
I'd say it probably slides more towards the scale of "Paper Moon" if I had to place it in the context of other movies, but I wasn't really thinking of it that way when I was conceiving it. It came from a place of wanting to take a crack at a...

Yahoo! Movies

Yahoo! Movies, provided by the Yahoo! network, is home to a large collection of information on movies, past and new releases, trailers and clips, box office information, and showtimes and movie theater information. Yahoo! Movies also includes red carpet photos, actor galleries, and production stills. Users can read critic's reviews, write and read other user reviews, get personalized movie recommendations, purchase movie tickets online, and create and view other user's lists of their favorite movies.

Yahoo! Movies devotes special coverage to the Academy Awards with a special Oscars site. The Oscars site includes articles, show coverage, a list of the night's big winners, photos, videos, polls, and a blog, written by J. Keith van Straaten.

From 2002 to 2007, Yahoo! Movies was the home of Greg's Previews of Upcoming Movies, an enhanced version of, written by its creator, Greg Dean Schmitz. During much of this time, Schmitz frequently appeared in print, radio and television as a representative of Yahoo! Movies.

Yahoo! Movies also releases special guides, such as the Summer Movie Guide, which contains information on the major releases of the summer with exclusive trailers and clips, photos, box office information, polls, and unique editorial content.

Additionally, Yahoo! Movies is teaming up with MTV to host a special site for the MTV Movie Awards, which will feature show information and a section where users can submit original movie shorts parodying last year's movies for the chance to win the new award, Best Movie Spoof.

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AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)

AFI’s 100 Years...100 Movies — 10th Anniversary Edition was the 2007 updated version of 100 Years… 100 Movies. The original list was first unveiled in 1998.

Announced on January 18, 2007, this 10th installment of the American Film Institute's (AFI) Emmy Award-winning AFI 100 Years... series counted down the 100 greatest American movies of all time in a three-hour television event. Aired June 20, 2007 on CBS, it was hosted by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. The program considered classic favorites and newly eligible films released from 1996 to 2006. AFI will undertake broadcasting a program like this every 10 years to mark changing cultural perspectives.

AFI distributed a ballot with 400 nominated movies to a jury of over 1,500 leaders from the creative community, including film artists (directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers), critics and historians.

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Cinema of the United States

United States film.png

United States cinema has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, Classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period (after 1980).

In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge demonstrated the power of photography to capture motion. In 1894, the world's first commercial motion picture exhibition was given in New York City, using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope. The next year saw the first commercial screening of a projected film, also in New York, and the United States was in the forefront of sound film's development in the following decades. Since the early twentieth century, the U.S. film industry has largely been based in and around Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Picture City, FL was also a planned site for a movie picture production center in the 1920s, but due to the devastating hurricane of 1928, the idea collapsed and Picture City was returned back to the original name of Hobe Sound. Director D. W. Griffith was central to the development of film grammar and Orson Welles's Citizen Kane (1941) is frequently cited in critics' polls as the greatest film of all time. American screen actors like John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe have become iconic figures, while producer/entrepreneur Walt Disney was a leader in both animated film and movie merchandising. The major film studios of Hollywood are the primary source of the most commercially successful movies in the world, such as Star Wars (1977) and Titanic (1997), and the products of Hollywood today dominate the global film industry.

The second recorded instance of photographs capturing and reproducing motion was Eadweard Muybridge's series of photographs of a running horse, which he captured in Palo Alto, California, using a set of still cameras placed in a row. Muybridge's accomplishment led inventors everywhere to attempt to make similar devices that would capture such motion. In the United States, Thomas Alva Edison was among the first to produce such a device, the kinetoscope, whose heavy-handed patent enforcement caused early filmmakers to look for alternatives.

In the United States, the first exhibitions of films for large audiences typically followed the intermissions in vaudeville shows. Entrepreneurs began traveling to exhibit their films, bringing to the world the first forays into dramatic film-making. The first huge success of American cinema, as well as the largest experimental achievement to this point, was The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter. In the earliest days of the American film industry, New York was the epicenter of film-making. The Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, built during the silent film era, was used by the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields. Chelsea, Manhattan was also frequently used. Mary Pickford, an Academy Award winning actress, shot some of her early films in this area. However, the better year-round weather of Hollywood made it a better choice for shooting.

In early 1910, director D.W. Griffith was sent by the Biograph Company to the west coast with his acting troupe, consisting of actors Blanche Sweet, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore, and others. They started filming on a vacant lot near Georgia Street in downtown Los Angeles. While there, the company decided to explore new territories, traveling several miles north to Hollywood, a little village that was friendly and enjoyed the movie company filming there. Griffith then filmed the first movie ever shot in Hollywood, In Old California, a Biograph melodrama about California in the 1800s, while it belonged to Mexico. Biograph stayed there for months and made several films before returning to New York. After hearing about Biograph's success in Hollywood, in 1913 many movie-makers headed west to avoid the fees imposed by Thomas Edison, who owned patents on the movie-making process. In Los Angeles, California, the studios and Hollywood grew. Before World War I, movies were made in several U.S. cities, but filmmakers gravitated to southern California as the industry developed. They were attracted by the mild climate and reliable sunlight, which made it possible to film movies outdoors year-round, and by the varied scenery that was available. There are several starting points for American cinema, but it was Griffith's controversial 1915 epic Birth of a Nation that pioneered the filming vocabulary that still dominates celluloid to this day.

In the early 1900s, when the medium was new, many Jewish immigrants found employment in the U.S. film industry. They were able to make their mark in a brand-new business: the exhibition of short films in storefront theaters called nickelodeons, after their admission price of a nickel (five cents). Within a few years, ambitious men like Samuel Goldwyn, Carl Laemmle, Adolph Zukor, Louis B. Mayer, and the Warner Brothers (Harry, Albert, Samuel, and Jack) had switched to the production side of the business. Soon they were the heads of a new kind of enterprise: the movie studio. (It is worth noting that the US had at least one female director, producer and studio head in these early years, Alice Guy-Blaché.) They also set the stage for the industry's internationalism; the industry is often accused of Amero-centric provincialism, but simultaneously employs a huge number of foreign-born and foreign-raised talent: from Swedish actress Greta Garbo to Australians Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman (it should be noted Nicole Kidman is not Australian-born, but was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to Australia at a very young age), from Hungarian director Michael Curtiz to Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón.

Other moviemakers arrived from Europe after World War I: directors like Ernst Lubitsch, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, and Jean Renoir; and actors like Rudolph Valentino, Marlene Dietrich, Ronald Colman, and Charles Boyer. They joined a homegrown supply of actors - lured west from the New York City stage after the introduction of sound films - to form one of the 20th century's most remarkable growth industries. At motion pictures' height of popularity in the mid-1940s, the studios were cranking out a total of about 400 movies a year, seen by an audience of 90 million Americans per week .

Sound also became widely used in Hollywood in the late 1920s . After The Jazz Singer, the first film with synchronized voices, was successfully released as a Vitaphone talkie in 1927, Hollywood film companies would respond to Warner Bros. and begin to use Vitaphone sound - which Warner Bros. owned until 1928 - in future films. By May 1928, Electrical Research Product Incorporated (ERPI), a subsidiary of the Western Electric company, gained a monopoly over film sound distribution. A side effect of the "talkies" was that many actors who had made their careers in silent films suddenly found themselves out of work, as they often had bad voices or could not remember their lines. Meanwhile, in 1922, US politician Will H. Hays left politics and formed the movie studio boss organization known as the Motion Pictures Distributors Association of America (MPDAA) . The organization became the Motion Picture Association of America after Hays retired in 1945.

In spite of this, some productions like the Spanish version of Dracula compare favorably with the original. By the mid-1930s, synchronization had advanced enough for dubbing to become usual.

During the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, which lasted from the end of the silent era in American cinema in the late 1920s to the late 1950s, thousands of movies were issued from the Hollywood studios. The start of the Golden Age was arguably when The Jazz Singer was released in 1927, ending the silent era and increasing box-office profits for films as sound was introduced to feature films. Most Hollywood pictures adhered closely to a formula - Western, slapstick comedy, musical, animated cartoon, biopic (biographical picture) - and the same creative teams often worked on films made by the same studio. For example, Cedric Gibbons and Herbert Stothart always worked on MGM films, Alfred Newman worked at Twentieth Century Fox for twenty years, Cecil B. De Mille's films were almost all made at Paramount, and director Henry King's films were mostly made for Twentieth Century Fox. At the same time, one could usually guess which studio made which film, largely because of the actors who appeared in it; MGM, for example, claimed it had contracted "more stars than there are in heaven." Each studio had its own style and characteristic touches which made it possible to know this - a trait that does not exist today. Yet each movie was a little different, and, unlike the craftsmen who made cars, many of the people who made movies were artists. For example, To Have and Have Not (1944) is famous not only for the first pairing of actors Humphrey Bogart (1899–1957) and Lauren Bacall (1924–) but also for being written by two future winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature: Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), the author of the novel on which the script was nominally based, and William Faulkner (1897–1962), who worked on the screen adaptation.

After The Jazz Singer was released in 1927, Warner Bros. gained huge success and was able to acquire their own string of movie theaters, after purchasing Stanley Theaters and First National Productions in 1928. MGM had also owned the Loews string of theaters since forming in 1924, and the Fox Film Corporation owned the Fox Theatre strings as well. Also, RKO - another company that owned theaters - had formed in 1928 from a merger between Keith-Orpheum Theaters and the Radio Corporation of America RKO responded to the Western Electric/ERPI monopoly over sound in films as well, and developed their own method, known as Photophone, to put sound in films . Paramount, who already acquired Balaban and Katz in 1926, would answer to the success of Warner Bros. and RKO, and buy a number of theaters in the late 1920s as well, and would hold a monopoly on theaters in Detroit, Michigan. By the 1930s, all of America's theaters were owned by the Big Five studios - MGM, Paramount Pictures, RKO, Warner Bros., and Twentieth Century Fox. .

Movie-making was still a business, however, and motion picture companies made money by operating under the studio system. The major studios kept thousands of people on salary - actors, producers, directors, writers, stunt men, craftspersons, and technicians. And they owned hundreds of theaters in cities and towns across the nation, theaters that showed their films and that were always in need of fresh material. In 1930, MPDDA President Will Hays created the Hays (Production) Code, which followed censorship guidelines and went into effect after government threats of censorship expanded by 1930 . However, the code was never enforced until 1934, after the Catholic watchdog organization The Legion of Decency - appalled by Mae West's very successful sexual appearances in She Done Him Wrong and I'm No Angel - threatened a boycott of motion pictures if it didn't go into effect . Those films that didn't obtain a seal of approval from the Production Code Administration had to pay a $25,000.00 fine and could not profit in the theaters, as the MPDDA owned every theater in the country through the Big Five studios .

Throughout the 1930s, as well as most of the golden age, MGM dominated the film screen and had the top stars in Hollywood, and was also credited for creating the Hollywood star system altogether . Some MGM stars included "King of Hollywood" Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, Jeanette MacDonald and husband Nelson Eddy, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, and Gene Kelly . Another great achievement of US cinema during this era came through 's animation company. In 1937, Disney created the most successful film of its time, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . Also in 1939, MGM would create what is still, when adjusted for inflation, the most successful film of all time, Gone with the Wind .

Many film historians have remarked upon the many great works of cinema that emerged from this period of highly regimented film-making. One reason this was possible is that, with so many movies being made, not every one had to be a big hit. A studio could gamble on a medium-budget feature with a good script and relatively unknown actors: Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles (1915-1985) and often regarded as the greatest film of all time, fits that description. In other cases, strong-willed directors like Howard Hawks (1896-1977), Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) and Frank Capra (1897-1991) battled the studios in order to achieve their artistic visions. The apogee of the studio system may have been the year 1939, which saw the release of such classics as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Only Angels Have Wings, Ninotchka, and Midnight. Among the other films from the Golden Age period that are now considered to be classics: Casablanca, It's a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, the original King Kong, Mutiny on the Bounty, City Lights, Red River and Top Hat.

The "Little Three" (Universal Studios, United Artists, and Columbia Pictures), who did not own any theaters, refused to participate in the consent decree. A number of independent film producers were also unhappy with the compromise and formed a union known as the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers and sued Paramount for the monopoly they still had over the Detroit Theaters - as Paramount was also gaining dominance through actors like Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Veronica Lake, Betty Hutton, crooner Bing Crosby, Alan Ladd, and longtime actor for studio Gary Cooper too- by 1942. The Big Five studios didn't meet the requirements of the Consent of Decree during WWII, without major consequence, but after the war ended they joined Paramount as defendants in the Hollywood anti-trust case, as did the Little Three studios also . The Supreme Court eventually ruled that the major studios ownership of theaters and film distribution was a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. As a result, the studios began to release actors and technical staff from their contracts with the studios. This changed the paradigm of film making by the major Hollywood studios, as each could have an entirely different cast and creative team. This resulted in the gradual loss of the characteristics which made MGM, Paramount, Universal, Columbia, RKO, and Fox films immediately identifiable. But certain movie people, such as Cecil B. DeMille, either remained contract artists till the end of their careers or used the same creative teams on their films, so that a DeMille film still looked like one whether it was made in 1932 or 1956. Also, the number of movies being produced annually dropped as the average budget soared, marking a major change in strategy for the industry. Studios now aimed to produce entertainment that could not be offered by television: spectacular, larger-than-life productions. Studios also began to sell portions of their theatrical film libraries to other companies to sell to television. By 1949, all major film studios had given up ownership of their theaters.

Television was also instrumental in the decline of Hollywood's Golden Age as it broke the movie industry's hegemony in American entertainment. Despite this, the film industry was also able to gain some leverage for future films as longtime government censorship faded in the 1950s. After the Paramount anti-trust case ended, Hollywood movie studios no longer owned theaters, and thus made it so foreign films could be released in American theaters without censorship. This was complemented with the 1952 Miracle Decision in the Joseph Burstyn Inc. v Wilson case, in which the Supreme Court of the United States reversed its earlier position, from 1915's Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio case, and stated that motion pictures were a form of art and were entitled to the protection of the First amendment; US laws could no longer censor films. By 1968, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) had replaced the Hays Code-which was now greatly violated after the government threat of censorship that justified the origin of the code had ended- with the film rating system.

The increasing indulgence of these young directors didn’t help. Often, they’d go overschedule, and overbudget, thus bankrupting themselves or the studio. The two most famous examples of this are Francis Coppola’s One From The Heart and particularly Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, which single-handedly bankrupted United Artists.

The drive to produce a spectacle on the movie screen has largely shaped American cinema ever since. Spectacular epics which took advantage of new widescreen processes had been increasingly popular from the 1950s onwards. Since then, American films have become increasingly divided into two categories: blockbusters and independent films. Studios have focused on relying on a handful of extremely expensive releases every year in order to remain profitable. Such blockbusters emphasize spectacle, star power, and high production value, all of which entail an enormous budget. Blockbusters typically rely upon star power and massive advertising to attract a huge audience. A successful blockbuster will attract an audience large enough to offset production costs and reap considerable profits. Such productions carry a substantial risk of failure, and most studios release blockbusters that both over- and underperform in a year.

Studios supplement these movies with independent productions, made with small budgets and often independently of the studio corporation. Movies made in this manner typically emphasize high professional quality in terms of acting, directing, screenwriting, and other elements associated with production, and also upon creativity and innovation. These movies usually rely upon critical praise or niche marketing to garner an audience. Because of an independent film's low budgets, a successful independent film can have a high profit-to-cost ratio, while a failure will incur minimal losses, allowing for studios to sponsor dozens of such productions in addition to their high-stakes releases.

American independent cinema was revitalized in the late 1980s and early 1990s when another new generation of moviemakers, including Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino made movies like, respectively: Do the Right Thing; Sex, Lies, and Videotape; Clerks; and Reservoir Dogs. In terms of directing, screenwriting, editing, and other elements, these movies were innovative and often irreverent, playing with and contradicting the conventions of Hollywood movies. Furthermore, their considerable financial successes and crossover into popular culture reestablished the commercial viability of independent film. Since then, the independent film industry has become more clearly defined and more influential in American cinema. Many of the major studios have capitalised on this by developing subsidiaries to produce similar films; for example Fox Searchlight Pictures.

To a lesser degree in the 2000s, film types that were previously considered to have only a minor presence in the mainstream movie market began to arise as more potent American box office draws. These include foreign-language films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero and documentary films such as Super Size Me, March of the Penguins, and Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11.

The 1980s and 1990s saw another significant development. The full acceptance of home video by studios opened a vast new business to exploit. Films such as The Secret of NIMH and The Shawshank Redemption, which performed poorly in their theatrical run, were now able to find success in the video market. It also saw the first generation of film makers with access to video tapes emerge. Directors such as Quentin Tarantino and P.T. Anderson had been able to view thousands of films and produced films with vast numbers of references and connections to previous works. This, along with the explosion of independent film and ever-decreasing costs for filmmaking, changed the landscape of American movie-making once again, and led a renaissance of filmmaking among Hollywood's lower and middle-classes—those without access to studio financial resources.

With the rise of the DVD in the 21st century, DVDs have quickly become even more profitable to studios and have led to an explosion of packaging extra scenes, extended versions, and commentary tracks with the films.

Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world, is also an endless pool of money for any presidential candidate. The relation between Hollywood and Washington began with a need for Hollywood to acquire a status of power by being seen with politicians and that relation is today reversed with Washington’s need for Hollywood’s money.

It all started in the beginnings of Hollywood, mostly during the moguls’ era, the founders of the studios. Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford were used to sell war bonds for World War 1 and their image worked to attract crowds. It wasn’t so long until the moguls began looking for something else than fame and money from their successful businesses. Most of the moguls and power figures of Hollywood in the 1920s were Jews. Being a Jew in this era was seen as negative, in a time when Jews were not welcomed in America. Despite their success, the moguls did not have the respect or the social status that they wanted. By being seen with powerful politicians, they would raise their social status and assure the respect they wanted. MGM’s powerful executive Louis B. Mayer accomplished this desire by being a good friend with candidate Herbert Hoover. The role of Hollywood in national politics began with this friendship between Mayer and Hoover. From this friendship, Hoover gained the support of Mayer’s friend William Randolph Hearst, press lord and producer, in his cause. Mayer was a strong supporter of Hoover who eventually became the 31st President of the United States, and Mayer succeeded in being well respected and became an even more powerful figure in Hollywood.

In the 1930s the Democrats and the Republicans saw a huge pool of money in Hollywood. President Franklin Roosevelt saw a huge partnership with Hollywood. He used the first real potential of Hollywood’s stars in a national campaign. Melvyn Douglas toured Washington in 1939 and met the key New Dealers. Endorsements letters from leading actors were signed, radio appearances and printed advertising were made. The use of a star was to drawn a large audience into the political view of the party. By the 1960s John F. Kennedy and Frank Sinatra had a strong friendship in this glamour era when young Kennedy was a new face for Washington. The last moguls of Hollywood were gone and young new executives and producers began generating more liberal ideas. The celebrity and the money attracted the politicians into the high-class glittering Hollywood life-style. As Ronald Brownstein wrote in his book “The Power and the Glitter”, the television in the 1970s and 1980s was an enormously important new media into the politics and Hollywood helped in that media with actors making speeches on their political beliefs, like Jane Fonda against the Vietnam War. In this era we saw former actor Ronald Reagan became Governor of California and then President of the United States. It continued with Arnold Schwarzenegger as California’s Governor in 2003.

Today Washington’s interest is in Hollywood being a money provider, with its huge pool of money. On February 20, 2007, for example, Senator Barack Obama had a $2300-a-plate Hollywood gala, being hosted by David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg at the Beverly Hilton. Hollywood is a huge donator for presidential campaigns and this money is attracting politicians into Hollywood. Not only is Hollywood influencing Washington with its glamour and money but Washington is also influencing Hollywood. With the help of the Pentagon and, based on Jean-Michel Valantin analysis in “Hollywood, le Pentagone et Washington”, Capitol Hill and the White House influence most notably the War films of Hollywood with their politics and ideologies.

Armenia · Azerbaijan · Iran · Iraq · Israel · Lebanon · Palestine · Russia (Russian Empire) · Saudi Arabia · Soviet Union · Syria · Tajikistan · Turkey · U.A.E.

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Serial film

DVD front cover for The Adventures of Captain Marvel, one of the most celebrated serials for both Republic Pictures and of the sound era in general.

Each chapter (a typical serial usually had as many as 15 of them) would be screened at the same theater for one week. The serial would end with a cliffhanger, as the hero and heroine would find themselves in the latest perilous situation from which there could be no escape.

The audience would have to return the next week (and pay admission) to find out how the hero and heroine would escape and battle the villain once again. Serials were especially popular with children, and for many youths in the first half of the 20th century, a typical Saturday at the movies included a chapter of at least one serial, along with animated cartoons, newsreels, and two feature films.

Most serials were Westerns, since those were the least expensive to film. Besides Westerns, though, there were films covering many genres, including crime fiction, espionage, comic book or comic strip characters, science fiction, and jungle adventures. Although most serials were filmed economically, some were made at significant expense. The Flash Gordon serial and its sequels, for instance, were major productions in their times.

Serials were a popular form of movie entertainment dating back to Edison's What Happened to Mary? of 1912. There do appear to be older serials, however, such as the 1910 Deutsche Vitaskop 5 episode Arsene Lupin Contra Sherlock Holmes, based upon the Maurice LeBlanc novel Arsene Lupin Contre Herlock Sholmes, and a possible but unconfirmed Raffles serial in 1911. Usually filmed with low budgets, serials were action-packed stories that usually involved a hero (or heroes) battling an evil villain and rescuing a damsel in distress. The villain would continually place the hero into inescapable deathtraps and situations, or the heroine would be placed into a deathtrap and the hero would bravely come to her rescue, usually pulling her away from certain death only instants before she met her doom. The hero and heroine would face one trap after another, battling countless thugs and lackeys, before finally defeating the villain.

Many famous clichés of action-adventure movies had their origins in the serials. The popular term cliffhanger was developed as a plot device in film serials (though its origins have been traced by some historians to the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle), and it comes from the many times that the hero or heroine would end up hanging over a cliff, usually as the villain gloated above and waited for them to plummet thousands of feet to their deaths. Other popular clichés included the heroine or hero trapped in a burning building, being trampled by horses, knocked unconscious in a car as it goes over a cliff, and watching as the burning fuse of a nearby bundle of dynamite sparked and sputtered its way towards the deadly explosive. The popular Indiana Jones movies are a well-known, romantic pastiche of the serials' clichéd plot elements and devices.

The silent era was the zenith of the movie serial and serial stars from this period were major stars such as Pearl White, who starred in the quintessential silent serial The Perils of Pauline which still ranks among the best known silent films. Ruth Roland, Marin Sais, Ann Little and Helen Holmes were also early leading serial queens. Most of these serials put beautiful young women in jeopardy week after week. The serials starring women were the most popular during the silent period but in the sound era few serials had a female character in the major role. Years after their first release, serials gained new life at "Saturday Matinees," theatrical showings on Saturday mornings aimed directly at children. For that reason, serials are sometimes called "Saturday Matinee Serials," even though they were originally shown with feature films.

In the early days of television in the United States, movie serials were often broadcast, one chapter a day. Many are now available on VHS tapes and DVDs for collectors.

Famous American serials of the silent era include The Perils of Pauline and The Exploits of Elaine made by Pathé Frères and starring Pearl White. Another popular serial emerged that year, the 119 episode The Hazards of Helen made by Kalem Studios and starring Helen Holmes for the first forty-eight episodes then Helen Gibson for the remainder. Other major studios of the silent era produced them, such as Vitagraph and Essanay Studios, as did Warner Bros., Fox, and Universal. Several independent companies (for example, Mascot Pictures) made Western serials. Four silent Tarzan serials were also made. Europe had its own serials, notably the French Judex and Les Vampires, and the German Homonculus.

The arrival of sound technology made it costlier to produce serials, so that they were no longer as profitable on a flat rental basis. Further, the Great Depression made it impossible for many of the smaller companies which had turned out serials to upgrade to sound, and they therefore went out of business. Only one serial specialty company, Mascot Pictures was in fact able to make the transition from silent to sound filmmaking: Universal Pictures also kept its serial unit alive through the transition.

In the early 1930s a handful of independent companies tried their hand at making serials, but managed only two or three, including the once-prolific Weiss Brothers. The Weisses bought a little time when Columbia Pictures decided to take a try at serials, and contracted with them (as Adventure Serials Inc.) to make three chapterplays. They were successful enough that Columbia then established its own serial unit and the Weisses essentially disappeared from the serial scene. This was in 1937, and Columbia was probably inspired by the previous year's serial blockbuster success at Universal, Flash Gordon, the first serial ever to play at a major theater on Broadway; and by the success of that same year of the newly-created Republic Pictures, which dedicated itself to a program of serials and westerns, eschewing major productions in their favor. The creation of Republic involved the absorption of Mascot Pictures, so that by 1937, serial production was now in the hands of three companies only - Universal, Columbia and Republic, with Republic quickly becoming the acknowledged leader in quality serial product. Each company turned out four to five serials per year, of 12 to 15 episodes each, a pace which they all kept up until the end of World War II when, in 1946, Universal dropped its serial unit along with its B-picture unit and renamed its production department Universal-International Pictures. Republic and Columbia continued unchallenged, with about four serials per year each, Republic fixing theirs at 12 chapters each while Columbia fixed at fifteen.

By the mid-1950s, however, episode television series and the sale of older serials to TV syndicators by all the current and past major sound serial producers, together with the loss of audience attendance at Saturday matinees in general, made serial-making a losing proposition.

There have been several post-1950s attempts at reviving or recalling cliffhanger serials, by both fans and professional studios, and serials were often spoofed in cartoons of the 1960s.

An early attempt at a low-budget Western serial, filmed in color, was entitled The Silver Avenger. One or two chapters exist of this effort on 16mm film but it is not known whether the serial was ever completed.

Cinema fan and author Don Glut filmed a number of serial-related backyard movies in the 1960s notable for the occasional appearance of an actual Hollywood prop or costume. These included The Adventures of the Spirit, Spy Smasher vs. the Purple Monster, and Captain America Battles the Red Skull, and Rocketman Flies Again, the latter two featuring actor wearing the original Republic Pictures Captain America costume and Rocketman helmet.

The best-known fan-made chapter play is the four-chapter, silent 16mm amateur effort made to resemble Republic and Columbia serials of the 1940s Captain Celluloid Vs. The Film Pirates, completed in 1966. The plot involved a masked named The Master Duper, one of three members of a Film Commission who attempts to acquire the only known prints of various lost nitrate films, and the heroic Captain Celluloid, who wears a costume reminiscent of that of the Black Commando in Columbia Pictures' serial The Secret Code, is determined to uncover him. Roles in the serial are played by, among others, film historians and serial fans Alan Barbour and William K. Everson.

In the 1970s, serial fan Blackie Seymour allegedly shot a complete 12 chapter serial called The Return of the Copperhead. Mr. Seymour's only child, who operated the camera at the tender age of 8, attests that as of 2008 the serial was indeed filmed but the raw footage remains in cans, unedited . . . "perhaps someday" to be assembled.

In 2001, King of the Park Rangers, a 12-chapter sound serial was released by Cliffhanger Productions on VHS video tape in sepia. It concerned the adventures of a Park Ranger named Patricia King and an FBI Agent who track down a trio of killers out to find buried treasure in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

A second 10-chapter serial, The Dangers of Deborah, in which a female reporter and a criminologist fight to uncover the identity of a mysterious villain named The Terror, was released by Cliffhanger Productions in 2008.

In 2006, Lamb4 Productions created its own homage to the film serials of the 1940s with its own serial titled "Wildcat." The story revolves around a super hero named Wildcat and his attempts to save the fictional Rite City from a masked villain known as the Roach. This 8-chapter serial was based heavily on popular super hero serials such as "Batman and Robin," "Captain America," and "The Adventures of Captain Marvel." After its premiere, "Wildcat" was posted on the official Lamb4 Productions YouTube channel for public viewing.

The serial format was used with stories on the original run of The Mickey Mouse Club (1955-58), with each chapter running about six to ten minutes. The longer-running dramatic serials included "Corky and White Shadow", "The Adventures of Spin and Marty", "The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure", "The Boys of the Western Sea", "The Secret of Mystery Lake", "The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of Ghost Farm" and "The Adventures of Clint and Mac".

Other Disney programs shown on Walt Disney Presents in segments (such as The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, The Swamp Fox, The Secret of Boyne Castle, The Mooncussers and The Prince and the Pauper) and Disney feature films (including Treasure Island, The Three Lives of Thomasina, The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, Rob Roy, the Highland Rogue and The Fighting Prince of Donegal) edited into segments for television presentation often had a cliffhanger-serial-like feel.

In England, in the 1950s and 60s, low-budget 6-chapter serials such as Dusty Bates and Masters of Venus were released theatrically, but these were not particularly well-regarded or remembered.

Of course, perhaps the greatest number of serialized television programs to feature any single character were those made featuring Doctor Who, the BBC character introduced in 1963. Doctor who serials would run anywhere from 3 to 12 episodes and were shown in weekly segments as had been the original theatrical cliffhangers. Doctor Who was syndicated in the US as early as 1974 but did not gain a following in America until the mid-1980s when episodes featuring Tom Baker reached its shores.

The 1960s cartoon show Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle included two serial-style episodes per program which ended with cliffhangers and spoofed the cliffhanger serial form. The Hanna-Barbera Perils of Penelope Pitstop was a takeoff on the silent serials The Perils of Pauline and The Iron Claw which featured Paul Lynde as the voice of the villain Sylvester Sneakley alias "The Hooded Claw".

Danger Island, a multi-part story in under-10-minute episodes, was shown on the Saturday morning Banana Splits program in the late 1960s. Episodes were short, full of wild action and usually ended on a cliffhanger. This serial is notable for having been directed by Richard Donner and featuring the first African-American action hero in a chapter play. The violence present in most of the episodes, though much of it was deliberately comical and would not be considered shocking today, also raised concerns at a time when violence in children's TV was at issue.

On February 27, 1979, NBC broadcast the first episode of an hour-long weekly television series Cliffhangers!, which had three segments, each with a different serial: a horror story (The Curse of Dracula, starring Michael Nouri), a science fiction/western (The Secret Empire, (inspired by 1935's The Phantom Empire) starring Geoffrey Scott as Marshal Jim Donner and Mark Lenard as Emperor Thorval) and a mystery (Stop Susan Williams!, starring Susan Anton, Ray Walston as Bob Richards and Albert Paulsen as the villain Anthony Korf). Unfortunately, though final episodes were shot, the series was cancelled and the last program aired on May 1, 1979 before all of the serials could conclude; only The Curse of Dracula was resolved.

In 2006, Dark Horse Indie films through Image Entertainment released a 6 chapter serial parody called Monarch of the Moon, detailing the adventures of a hero named the Yellow Jacket, who could control Yellow Jackets with his voice, battled "Japbots" and traveled to the moon. The end credits promised a second serial, Commie Commandos From Mars. Dark Horse attempted to promote the release as a just found never before released serial made in 1946 but suppressed by the US Government. Most fans weren't fooled, however.

In recent years there has been a small resurgence of a sort in serial production. Many films created using machinima, the art of using pre-existing consumer-level three-dimensional rendering engines to create computer-generated imagery, have been distributed in serial format. According to Hugh Hancock of, three to five minutes is an optimal length for videos downloaded over the Internet. As a result, a serial composed of multiple short videos can be an effective way of telling a longer story in this medium. Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles, a comedy series by Rooster Teeth Productions with a continuous, single plot spanning 100 episodes, popularized this distribution method. Many Red vs. Blue episodes end with cliffhangers, and Rooster Teeth Productions has acknowledged that the series is similar to older film serials in this regard. Another notable machinima production, Edgeworks Entertainment's The Codex, is a self-contained film, but was nonetheless released as a serial in 20 episodes between February and August 2005.

The classic sound serial, particularly in its Republic format, has a first episode of about 30 minutes (approximately three reels in length) and begins with reports of a masked, secret, or unsuspected villain menacing an unspecific part of America. This episode traditionally has the most detailed credits at the beginning, often with pictures of the actors with their names and that of the character they play. Often there follows a montage of scenes lifted from the cliffhangers of previous serials to depict the ways in which the master criminal was a serial killer with a motive. In the first episode, various suspects or "candidates" who may, in secret, be this villain are presented, and the viewer often hears the voice but does not see the face of this mastermind commanding his "lead villain," similar to a sergeant, whom the viewer will see in just about every episode.

In the succeeding weeks (usually 11 to 14) thereafter, an episode nearer 20 minutes (approximately two reels) in length was presented, in which the "lead villain" and lesser thugs commit crimes in various places, fight the hero, and trap someone to make the ending a cliffhanger. Many of the episodes have clues, dialogue, and events leading the viewer to think that any of the candidates were the mastermind. As serials were made by writing the whole script first and then slicing it into portions filmed at various sites, often the same location would be used several times in the serial, often given different signage, or none at all, just being referred to differently. There would often be a female love interest of the male hero, or a female hero herself, but as the audience was mainly children, there was no hugging and kissing.

In 1938 Republic introduced the "economy episode" (or "recap chapter") in which the characters summarize or reminisce about their adventures, so as to introduce showing those scenes again (in the manner of a clip show in modern television). This type of episode usually had a cheap, mechanical cliffhanger, like a time bomb rather than being unconscious in a runaway vehicle.

The beginning of each chapter would bring the story up to date by repeating the last few minutes of the previous chapter, and then revealing how the main character escaped. Often the reprised scene would add an element not seen in the previous close, but unless it contradicted something shown previously, audiences accepted the explanation. On rare occasions the filmmakers would depend on the audience not remembering details of the previous week's chapter, using alternate outcomes that did not exactly match the previous episode's cliffhanger.

The last episode was sometimes a bit longer than most, for its tasks were to unmask the head villain (who usually was someone completely unsuspected), wrap up the loose ends, and end with a triumphal proclamation, followed by a joke — and sometimes a kiss (provided that the story supplied a heroine to receive it).

The major studios had their own retinues of actors and writers, their own prop departments, existing sets, stock footage, and music libraries. The early independent studios had none of these, except for being able to rent the sets of independent producers of western features.

The firms saved money by reusing the same cliffhangers, stunt and special effect sequences over the years. Mines or tunnels flooded often, even in Flash Gordon, and the same model cars and trains went off the same cliffs and bridges. Republic had a Packard limousine and a Ford Woodie station wagon used in serial after serial so they could match the shots with the stock footage from the model or previous stunt driving. Three different serials had them chasing the Art Deco sound truck, required for location shooting, for various reasons. Male fistfighters all wore hats so that the change from actor to stunt double would not be caught so easily. A rubber liner on the hatband of the stuntman's fedora would make a seal on the stuntman's head, so the hat would stay on during fight scenes.

Exposition of what led up to the previous episode's cliffhanger was usually displayed on placards with a photograph of one of the characters on it. In 1939, Universal brought the first "scrolling text" exposition to the serial, which George Lucas first used in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977 and then in all of the following Star Wars films. As this would have required subcontracting the optical effects, Republic saved money by not using it.

Universal had been making serials since the 1910s, and continued to service its loyal neighborhood-theater customers with four serials annually. The studio made news in 1929 by hiring Tim McCoy to star in its first all-talking serial, The Indians Are Coming! Epic footage from this western serial turned up again and again in later serials and features. In 1936 Universal scored a coup by licensing the popular comic-strip character Flash Gordon for the screen; the serial was a smash hit, and was even booked into first-run theaters that usually didn't bother with chapter plays. Universal followed it up with more pop-culture icons: The Green Hornet and Ace Drummond from radio, and Smilin' Jack and Buck Rogers from newspapers. Universal was more story-conscious than the other studios, and cast its serials with "name" actors recognizable from feature films: Lon Chaney, Jr., Bela Lugosi, Dick Foran, The Dead End Kids, Kent Taylor, Robert Armstrong, Irene Hervey, and Johnny Mack Brown, among many others. In the 1940s Universal's serials employed urban and wartime themes, incorporating newsreel footage of actual disasters. The 1942 serial Gang Busters is perhaps the best of Universal's wartime serials; Universal often cannibalized it for future cliffhangers. The studio's reliance on stock footage for the big action scenes was certainly economical, but it often hurt the overall quality of the films. When the studio reorganized as Universal-International, it shut down most of the production units, including the serial crew. Universal's last serial was Mysterious Mr. M (1946).

Republic was the successor to Mascot Pictures, a serial specialist. Writers and directors were already geared to staging exciting films, and Republic improved on Mascot, adding music to underscore the action, and staging more elaborate stunts. Republic was one of Hollywood's smaller studios, but its serials have been hailed as some of the best, especially those directed by John English and William Witney. In addition to solid screenwriting that many critics thought was quite accomplished, the firm also introduced choreographed fistfights, which often included the stuntmen (usually the ones portraying the villains, NEVER the heroes!) throwing things in desperation at one another in every fight to heighten the action. Republic serials are noted for outstanding special effects, such as large-scale explosions and demolitions, and the more fantastic visuals like Captain Marvel and Rocket Man flying. Most of the trick scenes were engineered by Howard and Theodore Lydecker. Republic was able to get the rights to the newspaper comic character Dick Tracy, the radio character The Lone Ranger, and the comic book characters Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Spy Smasher. Republic's serial scripts were written by a team of up to seven writers. By 1950 Republic had amassed an impressive backlog of action highlights, which were cleverly re-edited into later serials to save money. Most of the studio's serials of the 1950s were written by only one man, Ronald Davidson -- Davidson had produced many serials, so he knew where all the old scenes were! Republic's last serial was King of the Carnival (1955), a reworking of 1939's Daredevils of the Red Circle using some of its footage.

Columbia made several serials using its own staff and facilities (1938-39, and 1943-45), but usually subcontracted its serial production to outside producers: the Weiss Brothers (1937-38), Larry Darmour (1939-42), and Sam Katzman (1945-56). Columbia built many serials around name-brand heroes. From newspaper comics, they got Terry and the Pirates, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom. and Brenda Starr, Reporter; from the comic books, Blackhawk, Congo Bill, a time traveler named Brick Bradford, and Batman and Superman; from radio, Jack Armstrong, Hop Harrigan, and The Shadow; from the British novelist, Edgar Wallace, the first archer superhero: The Green Archer; and even from television: Captain Video. Columbia's early serials were very well received by audiences -- exhibitors voted The Spider's Web the number-one serial of the year. Former silent-serial director James W. Horne co-directed The Spider's Web, and his work secured him a permanent position in Columbia's serial unit. Horne had been a comedy specialist in the 1930s, often working with Laurel and Hardy, and most of his Columbia serials are played tongue-in-cheek, with exaggerated villainy and improbable heroics (the hero will take on six men in a fistfight and win). After Horne's death in 1942, the studio's serial output was somewhat more sober, but still aimed primarily at the juvenile audience. Batman (1943) was quite popular, and Superman (1948) was phenomenally successful. Spencer Gordon Bennet, another silent-serial veteran, directed most of the later Columbia serials. His western-themed efforts were suitably accomplished, but Columbia cut corners in every respect until the quality of the serials suffered. Columbia also substituted animation for more expensive special effects. By the 1950s Columbia serials were low-budget affairs, consisting mostly of action scenes and cliffhanger endings from older productions, and even employing the same actors for new scenes tying the old footage together. Columbia outlasted the other serial producers, its last cliffhanger being Blazing the Overland Trail, (1956), a threadbare melange of western footage from three older serials.

Many serials are now available on DVD from VCI Video. Several, however, have only been issued on VHS by Republic Pictures Home Video, VCI Entertainment Video and Sony Pictures Home Video, and some are not available at all (either because they have been lost or due to lack of interest). A gray market for DVDs also exists through websites and internet auctions. These vary between good and poor quality, depending on their sources dependability.

The Golden Age of Serials is considered to be from 1936 to 1945.

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Source : Wikipedia