We often hear of the major directors and producers who shaped American cinema: Griffith, DeMille, Hawks, Ford, Houston, etc., in the former camp, Selznick, Thalberg, Goldwyn, etc, in the latter--but this is a lively and quite informative look at how the major studios each had a style and production system of their own. It provides discussions of several key films, notes how similar material was differently shaped in competing studios, and you end up with a nice list of "Must See" films from the Golden Age. A great read for those with more than a passing interest in films, especially given the poverty of audiobook titles of similar subject matter.
The author is opinionated (he dismisses Douglas Sirk out of hand and obviously prefers the musical over other genres, the latter more a problem as studios such as Universal and Warner Brothers were primarily known for other genres, the horror and gangster film respectively. Still, this is a good way to get a feeling for how each studio's style emerged and was refined, and the opinions take back seat to the films and personalities that characterize each studio's distinctive output.
I was disappointed by the brevity of the chapter on RKO, and some of the author's insights seem not to come so much from having viewed the films in question, but rather from documentaries about the era (his discussion of the early talkies is, in part, straight from the old HBO series, HOLLYWOOD, END OF AN ERA. These a minor quibbles, and I highly recommend this book as a starting point.
The reader is first rate. He has been attacked elsewhere, but I found him wonderful company during a long automobile trip just ended. Give the sample a listen and decide for yourself.
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