Moguls and Movie Stars: The Dream Merchants

November 16, 2010

Last night’s Episode 3 of TCM’s brilliant  “Moguls and Movie Stars” documentary was quite appropriately titled “The Dream Merchants”, a fitting description for the moguls, writers, actors, and directors who blazed their way into the consciousness of the world in the 1920s.

I was amazed to learn that over 850 silent films were produced in 1921 alone! The high water mark for talking films (around 650) would happen in 1939, but that 850 number is, to me, mind-boggling when one considers that feature length films only began to be produced around 1915. Movies went from being brief 1 to 3 minute fads in 1900 to dominating the entertainment marketplace in 1921 when almost 40% of the entire population of the United States attended a film at least once a week.

In my heart, I found myself yearning to experience what it must have been like to live and work in the creative caldron of literally birthing a new art form. And also yearning to have the thrill of sitting in a movie theater audience each week in 1921 as the movies became our national passion literally overnight.

One of the goals of this community is to rebirth the theatrical experience so that all audiences want to come back to movie theaters again, not just teenagers and people under 30. As I note in Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

“The New Hollywood is almost exclusively focused on Act One of the human condition. Much as the youth-obsessed culture of Southern California in which The New Hollywood is centered, The New Hollywood primarily makes and markets films to people under the age of thirty. The Old Hollywood used to make films for all audience segments because it recognized that, like movies and plays, our lives also include second and third acts.

People who are in the second or third act of life (age thirty and over) still want entertainment that appeals to them and their interests, and these generations now have the power to guarantee that those desires are fulfilled.

The New Hollywood is not structured to do that.

The Old Hollywood is being called home to do just that.”

Later this week, we’ll look at more of Episode 3 of “Moguls and Movie Stars.”

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