Originating as a turn-of-the-century novelty, the motion picture business soon became a multi-million dollar industry. In fact, by the early 1920’s, the business of making movies had already become America’s fifth largest industry and would go on to become one of the most significant and influential communication and entertainment tools of the 20th century.
The large majority of motion pictures produced during the 1920’s were silent films. As the industry grew, and movie making became more costly, the various aspects of film production were divided into individual components such as writing, directing, costumes, etc., and became almost assembly-line in their creation.
During the time that the First World War was taking place, the “studio system” evolved in Hollywood and would dominate the movie industry for a period of close to 25 years. Generally credited with the creation of this system were Adolph Zukor, William Fox, and Carl Laemmle. Essentially, the system provided a movie studio’s production chief with virtually total control over a films director and its stars.
With nearly 90 percent of America’s motion pictures being produced and distributed by five major studios, these studios were able to monopolize Hollywood for the next 50 years. These five studios were: Warner Brothers Pictures, Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (renamed Paramount Pictures in 1935), RKO Pictures, Loew’s Inc. (later to become Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), and Fox Film Corporation/Foundation (later becoming 20th-Century Fox).
Movie technology continued to advance during this decade, and with the development of the microphone the film industry was about to undergo dramatic change. However, this advancement was not entirely welcomed by all. Many of the silent era’s greatest stars would be unable to make the transition from the silent film to the “talkie”. Silent movie fans had in their minds their own idea regarding the ‘spoken sound’ of the actors and actresses they loved and found it difficult to accept the real sound of many of their voices.
Some of the greatest stars of silent films unable to survive this new partnership between movie sight and sound were Douglas Fairbanks, Clara Bow, John Gilbert, and Mary Pickford. Fortunately, many other stars who were loved by the public did successfully survive. They included John Barrymore, Mary Astor, William Powell, Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper, Laurel and Hardy, Greta Garbo, and some time later, even Charlie Chaplin who strongly disliked the addition of sound to movies.
Sound had arrived, signaling an end to the silent film era, and it was here to stay.
Source by Carl DiNello