The Autumn of the Patriarchs

Barry Langford

in Post-Classical Hollywood

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780748638574
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671076 | DOI:
The Autumn of the Patriarchs

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The Hollywood film industry at the end of World War II was very lightly regulated. Yet a variety of forms of regulation played a vital role in sustaining the intricate and profitable mechanisms of the studio system. The most obvious and visible of these was the self-censorship of motion picture content though the industry-sponsored, arm's-length Production Code Administration (PCA), run since 1934 by Joseph Breen. The effective regulation of output through the operations of an assembly line-like system of production, distribution and exhibition was central to the business model of the Big Five studios. This chapter examines the Supreme Court decision in the 1948 case United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. et al. — the famous ‘Paramount Decree’ — which revisited and definitively resolved the question of whether the major studios constituted a ‘trust’ in the terms of U.S. commercial law, that is, a cartel operating illegitimately to restrict market freedom in a given industry. It also discusses the rise of independent studios after Paramount and the impact of television on the film industry.

Keywords: Hollywood; film industry; regulation; self-censorship; Production Code Administration; Big Five studios; independent studios; Paramount Decree; television; trust

Chapter.  15667 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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