I love movies. I have loved movies all my life. I grew up on them. When I was eight years old, I managed to convince myself I would make movies when I grew up. Now I am in the process of getting a degree in Film Studies. I write about film more than ever before, partly because I have to for my classes, mostly because I enjoy it, because I have something to write about. Sometimes it helps me understand the film better; sometimes it helps me understand myself better.
I created this blog as a place to showcase my work, and also as an incentive to keep writing reviews, analyses, and essays over breaks, when there’s no one here to grade me.
I have tried many times, and failed, to explain in a coherent manner why it is that I love films. Here is my best—and most coherent—guess.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Size Matters: Television’s Effects on the 1950s Film Industry

There is a scene in George Cukor’s A Star Is Born (1954) that demonstrates not only the director’s mastering of the new widescreen format and the careful balancing of composition within a larger frame, but also Cukor’s awareness of its history and value. It features aging matinee idol Norman Main (James Mason) getting fired by head of the studio Oliver Niles (Charles Bickford). The actor’s popularity had been slipping, along with the studio’s power and commercial viability after the introduction of television into the American home. During the conversation, the men stand between two flickering black-an-white images on the left and right edges of the frame. To the far left is a television set turned on to the fights, to the far right a movie, projected onto a screen in the next room. Main and Niles talk to each other precisely between a video image and a film image—a visual translation of the historical crossroads where all the studio heads and stars found themselves in 1954, with box office revenues plummeting.

Two years earlier, 1952 had marked the first full year in which the whole nation was blanketed by network television, and for the first time since the early years of the Depression, the movie industry was in a state of decline. 1952 was also, not incidentally, the year that brought wide screens and stereophonic sound, more practicable and less expensive color, a growth of independent production, and a landmark Supreme Court decision on film censorship. This was the beginning of a transition that would lead the American film industry from the hardened confines of a production-distribution-exhibition pattern that had lasted for over two decades into uncertainties and changing forms. Television was, of course, not the only factor that prompted this transition, but it was a heavily influential one. If the theater screen was to compete with the small one, Hollywood had to offer audiences something that they couldn’t get in their living rooms: new, bigger screens and visual effects, better sound quality, color, new genres, more sex, more violence.

The two forces that would converge to crush old Hollywood—antitrust action and television—had begun their assault even before WWII. The industry’s first problems arose from the United States court rulings that its methods of distribution were an illegal restraint of fair trade, as the major studios formed a monopoly over the market through block-booking at studio-owned theater chains (Ellis 375). Perhaps an even bigger threat was the new electronic toy that combined picture and sound, demonstrated as early as the mid-thirties and starting to enter the homes in the postwar period.  Hollywood, basking in the glow of its immensely successful war effort and healthy box-office returns, was caught unprepared (Bohn and Stromgren 236).

Television was at first dismissed by the film industry as a passing fad, but by the late forties, the movie industry had to acknowledge the inevitable: TV was here to stay, and its effect on the box office was near-catastrophic. In 1946 the American film industry grossed $1.7 billion domestically, the peak box-office year in the history of the medium; weekly attendance was 90 million and the number of theaters (21,500) was the largest since 1930 (Bohn and Stromgren 236). By 1953, weekly attendance at movie theaters had fallen to about 25 percent of that figure. In 1958, domestic box-office receipts fell below a billion dollars, and by 1962 the domestic receipts were slightly more than half of those from 1946 (Mast 275). As Sam Goldwyn is said to have remarked on another occasion, audiences were staying away in droves (Ellis 381-82).

The television set had arrived on the market as a fully developed appliance. Unlike with other media before it (including film and radio), there was no period of amateur experimentation accompanying television. “It moved immediately into the living room, becoming the new hearth around which the family gathered” (Butsch 235). There were only a million television sets in America in 1949. By 1952 there were ten million, by the end of the decade, fifty million (Mast 276). The new medium reduced communal viewing to domestic viewing, narrowed audiences to the family, and reduced activities outside the home (Butsch 236-37). People were simply going out less once they had purchased a television, to the movies or elsewhere (Butsch 246). 

Despite early television’s disadvantages—inferior content and picture quality, black-and-white images on a twelve-inch screen subject to all types of interference—people chose the small screen over the big one in increasing numbers. A book of magazine cartoons about television included a section titled “Remember the Movies?” One cartoon showed a movie theater empty except for two couples; one of the wives says to the other, “Ours is out for repair too” (Austrian 12-18, Aldredge).  One reason that people were staying in, and possibly the most important, was novelty. Television was new, people had money to spend on it, and everyone seemed to feel the urge to buy a set (Bohn and Stromgren 239). In the first few years, it didn’t much matter what was on TV and what was playing in the nearest movie theater; audiences were drawn in by the sheer newness of television. If it was novelty the public wanted, it was novelty Hollywood was going to give it.

Up until the fifties, the motion picture industry’s reaction to the TV threat was “ostrich-like” (Ellis 276). It was even reported that certain studios forbade the use of the word television in executive conversations. The studio’s stance gradually shifted to fear, hostility, and passive resistance through the deliberate withholding of the enormous resources of talent and reservoirs of product. Writers, directors, and actors under contract were not permitted to work for television, and the feature films produced by the major studios were not available for airing (Ellis 276, (Bohn and Strmgren 239). Box office revenues, however, continued to go down, and complaints from stockholders over dwindling dividends continued to increase. The film industry had to do more than hold its stars and huge backlogs of films to its corporate breast; it had to fight back.

Technology and Style
If films and television were to coexist, the movies would have to give audiences what the TV could not. The film industry’s first and most obvious reaction the flailing box office was to introduce new forms of technology—this had worked before, when sound was introduced. The key was to emphasize technical differences between film and television, and the immediate thinking was “bigger is better” (Bohn and Stromgren 241).  Hollywood’s two primary weapons against television were size and technical gimmickry. “Television’s visual thinking was necessarily in inches whereas movies could compose in feet and yards” (Mast 278). In addition to its size, television was limited by poor visual definition, black and white, and mediocre sound quality. Film could do better in all of these areas (Lev 107). After all, film had fifty years of technological research in color, property of lenses, and special effects that television lacked.

In 1952 the rapidly declining box office and television competition goaded the industry into introducing a number of “new screen processes,” all designed to offer sights and sounds that the competitive medium couldn’t duplicate, and to give the screen a greater illusion of depth (Ellis 378). One of the industry’s first sallies was 3-D, an effect produced by shooting the action with two lenses simultaneously at a specified distance apart. The interlocked projectors then combined the two perspectives on a single screen, the viewers using special glasses to meld the two images into a single three-dimensional one. The stereoscopic effect applied to feature films was a great novelty.
Hollywood rushed into 3-D production in 1952 with Arch Oboler’s Bwanna Devil, which, despite the fact that it had little but depth to recommend it, broke box-office records across the country (Bohn and Stromgren 243). 3-D filmmaking “was suddenly the craze in Hollywood” (Lev 110). Bwanna Devil would be followed by House of Wax, It Came From Outer Space, Fort Ti, Kiss Me Kate, and I, The Jury (all 1953); Creature from the Black Lagoon, The French Line, Gog, and Taza, Son of Cochise (all 1954) and, finally, Revenge of the Creature (1955). Audiences eagerly left their television sets to experience the gimmick, which allowed the formerly confined, flat picture to leap, fly, or flow out of its frame (Mast 278). In more and more inventive ways, tomahawks, arrows, bodies, and bullets were flying out of the screen at the audience—promotion for Bwanna Devil promised “A lion in your lap” (Bohn and Stromgren 380).  In March 1953, an article in American Cinematographer announced “All Hollywood Shooting 3-D films.” However, by December of the same year, the same magazine’s lead article asked “Is 3-D Dead…?” The quick demise of 3-D could be blamed on the same reason for its popularity: the sheer novelty of the experience, which became boring as soon it was no longer novel. The process had—and still has, in its contemporary iteration—only limited potential for telling a story. Despite all the gimmickry, the essential attractiveness of motion pictures was their ability to tell stories, a basic fact Hollywood forgot in its mad rush to find a quick and easy formula to win back viewers. “The best films involve an audience, but 3-D film simply assaulted theirs” (Bohn and Stromgren 244).

In addition to the complaints about the choice of subjects, there were complaints about the polarized glasses: they were uncomfortable and poorly made; they were not always available from suppliers; and they cost too much. There were complains about projection (which mirror those of modern viewers): the image was shaky; the image was too dark (Lev 112). Further, because 3-D required theater owners to make costly additions and renovations to the equipment—which not many did—business for the process fell off rapidly.

If 3-D came and went—only to be revived in the present—the wide screen introduced in the fifties has lasted in one form or another ever since. The same year that 3-D made its appearance, another novelty that promised thrills—and promised to win back the audiences who had defected to the small black-and-white images in their living rooms—graced movie theaters. Cinerama could be called the exact opposite of 3-D; the optical basis for it was not stereoscopy but peripheral vision (Lev 114). Instead of bringing the picture to the audience, it dazzled viewers by bringing the audience into the picture. Cinerama originally used three interlocked cameras mounted together to cover a horizontal angle of 180 degrees, the approximate span of human vision; the final prints were projected by four separate projectors (one for sound) not on top of one another, as in 3-D, but side by side, resulting in an immense wrap-around screen (which was really three screens). The wide, curved screen and the positions of the cameras worked on the eye’s peripheral vision to create the illusion that the body was actually in motion (Mast 278-79). 

When This Is Cinerama opened in 1952, audiences were thrilled by the technological development which sent them racing down rollercoaster tracks and soaring over the Rocky Mountains. The film was also (self)consciously aware of its roots in film history. The immense color image unfolded after a small-screen, black-and-shite display of The Great Train Robbery, the first great American box-office hit. This Is Cinerama, too, was soon numbered among the great moneymakers of all time (Ellis 381).
Cinerama remained commercially viable longer than 3-D, despite the fact that only a few theaters in major cities were equipped to employ the process (Bohn and Stromgren 242). Again, as with 3-D, the costs of transforming theaters for the new process (ranging from $75,000 to $140,000 per screen) were not worth it for many theater owners who couldn’t advance such a large sum (Lev 114). Cinerama remodeled or built its own theaters, but still there were not many venues that could support the format. The careful marketing turned this disadvantage in Cinerama’s biggest asset: seeing a Cinerama film became a special, exciting event; the film was sold as a “road-show” attraction with reserved seats and high prices (Mast 281).

The opportunities and problems Cinerama posed for the industry were not unlike those that had accompanied The Jazz Singer’s success a quarter of a century earlier Just as in the late twenties when the films learned to talk, and the camera momentarily stopped speaking, in the fifties film technique was constrained by what seemed like acres of screen image. The use of close-ups and editing, which had been essential to narrative technique, was greatly reduced if not prohibited (Ellis 381-82). 

The Cinerama films were essentially a series of travelogue shorts anthologized to feature length: Cinerama Holiday and Seven Wonders of the World (both 1955), Search for Paradise (1957), South Seas Adventures (1958) (Ellis 382, Bohn and Stromgren 242). Audiences soon tired of watching the scenery, and Cinerama itself might have run out of scenery to present. The process did not lend itself naturally to storytelling, and Cinerama faced troubles when it tried to combine its gimmick with narrative; the dramatic ingredients of plot, character, and ideas were overwhelmed by the scale and scope of the sprawling spectacle. The kinds of stories that might fill the monstrous screen seemed extremely limited; the screen was an appropriate size and shape for “parades down Fifth Avenue, a train speeding across the Mojave desert. Or two boa constrictors copulating… [but] it offered no clear advantage in dealing with individual human beings (who happen to stand upright), unless they were in quantities of thousands” (Ellis 382).

The gimmick successfully pulled Americans away from the small screen, but not enough of them at once, and not often enough, to offer the movie industry any real commercial salvation. “What was needed was a sort of poor man’s Cinerama,” and Spyros Skouras, head of Twentieth Century Fox, found a way to spice up the existing standard without departing too much from it (Ellis 382). CinemaScope was the result. Like Cinerama before it, this new process took advantage of the screen’s size, and became the most durable and functional of the three gimmicks, requiring neither special projectors, special film, nor special glasses. The action was recorded by a single 35mm camera, then squeezed horizontally by an anamorphic lens to fit the width of standard film. When projected with another lens on the projector, the distortions disappeared and the huge, wide image stretched across the theater’s screen (Mast 281, Bohn and Stromgren 242).

The first CinemaScope feature was The Robe, released in 1953. The movie, with its DeMille-like blend of spectacle and religiosity, would have probably made money regardless of the shape and size of the screen. Its success, however, convinced the studios that the process was a sound one, and an onslaught of imitations popped up, including Superscope, Naturama, Panascope, Techniscope, VistaRama; Panavision, MGM Camera 65, and Todd-AO took it a step further, widening the film to 55, 65, or 70mm, respectively (Bohn and Stromgren 243). The Robe was followed by a series of expensive and well-made features (mostly comedies and musicals) equally adept at showing off the attraction of the new screen process: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire (both 1953), A Star Is Born and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). By 1954, 75 “new dimension” films were in production. Seven of them would make the top ten box-office list that year (Bohn and Stromgren 243).

A commercial and critical success, CinemaScope provided the almost ideal balance between Cinerama and the conventional 4:3 aspect ratio. It required no major change in production technology or technique, and was simple and inexpensive to install in existing movie houses (Ellis 382-83). Unfortunately, like Cinerama, it favored certain film types and was awkward for others, and again size and grandeur triumphed over depth perception and motion effects. Some argued that the image Cinemascope offered was like looking at the world through a postal slot, and Jean Cocteau was credited with saying that he recognized progress when he saw it and henceforward would put paper in the typewriter sideways when he wrote his poems (Ellis 383). Despite their shortcomings, the new screen processes’ impact on the film industry was tremendous. The wide screen, like sound before it, became an inescapable fact of film life; by the mid-sixties the widescreen revolution was as complete as the sound revolution of the late twenties (Mast 285). 

Another technical revolution of the fifties owes its development, at least partially, to the movie industry’s battle with television. From the earliest days of motion pictures, inventors and filmmakers had tried to combine color with recoded movement through methods like hand-painting each frame or bathing them in color tints. The 1950s gave way to a near-total conversion to color. In 1947 only 12 percent of all American films had been in color; in 1954, the figure rose to 58 percent (Mast 295).
Hollywood could have converted to color almost at the same time as it made the conversion to sound, but expenses and priorities dictated that films use black and white, while color  was reserved for cartoons or lavish spectacles like Michael Curtiz’ The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Victor Fleming’s Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz (both 1939). During the fifties, film needed color to fight television, which—at least until the sixties—could offer viewers only black-and-white (Mast 285-86). Economic need and competition were again the major factors of this transition (Bohn and Strmgren 244).

Technicolor had been virtually without competitors since it introduced the first practical three-strip color system in 1932, but in the fifties new color processes like Eastmancolor, Deluxe, Metrocolor, and Warnercolor (all of which could be used with a regular movie camera, unlike Technicolor) were being developed (Lev 107-109). Block-and-white gradually became the exception, and color, even for serious dramas, light-hearted comedies, and low-budget westerns, became the rule. It was more than just a gimmick; as color cinematography became more flexible, filmmakers learned that the new technique was also a way to fulfill essential dramatic and thematic functions. 

The introduction of magnetic tape—a spoil of war invented in Nazi Germany—also improved sound quality drastically, introducing another advantage of film over television. The stereophonic magnetic sound system enormously increased the range of frequencies, bringing sound reproduction much closer to life. Multiple microphones and systems caused the sound to follow the images; volume increased and decreased across the screen and around the auditorium (Mast 286, Ellis 381).

But, regardless of all the technological changes and developments the movie industry underwent, Hollywood eventually learned that television was here to stay, and started to work with it rather than against it. Film stars began appearing on television in 1956 and studios started selling old films to television the same year. In a sense, television replaced the old fourth- and fifth-run neighborhood theaters (Mast 286). The ultimate response of Hollywood to television was to undertake production directly for the tube, at first tentatively, with 30- or 60-minute programs and, in some cases, even 90 minutes in length, resembling more and more the B pictures that were no longer profitable for theater audiences. By the mid-sixties Hollywood was making feature films directly for TV (Ellis 387). Although the film industry had failed to dominate the emerging television industry in the 1950s, Hollywood actively participated in the evolution of television during the latter half of the decade, establishing a strong relationship that eventually led to the integration of these two industries (Lev 134-46).

Genre and Content 

The battle between film and television was a struggle between competing methods of distribution more than anything else; the theater owners, which had once held the largest share of power in the film industry—they collected the revenues—were hit the hardest by the proliferation of TV sets in American homes. Theaters countered by offering sights the television could not deliver, a principle that has continued to dominate the industry ever since (Mast 286-87). If the fifties are known as a time of stylistic and technological experimentation, the changes on the level of content were in no way less drastic or impactful. New genres appeared and some older genres regained popularity. Frank literary adaptations, costly spectacle films, low-budget science fiction and horror, and teenage rebellion pictures emerged in the movie production of the decade.
Increasingly, studios and theaters discovered that the most dependable films were either very expensive or very cheap. In the fifties, this meant the birth of the American spectacle film and the low-budget teen flic. A very expensive film could make back its investment with huge publicity campaigns and high ticket prices, and a low-budget film could be shot quickly, for only a fraction of the cost of big productions, could make back their investments in a matter of weeks through neighborhood theater and drive-in ticket sales. In practice, this theory translated itself into big films like The Robe (1953), Oklahoma! (1955), The Ten Commandments (1956), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Ben-Hur (1959), and Spartacus (1960). Even unpretentious directors of pictures with a faster pace and a smaller scale like Howard Hawks and Nicholas Ray joined the parade of spectacles with Land of the Pharoes (1955) and King of Kings (1961), respectively. The biblical and historical cinematic dinosaurs disappeared after Cleopatra, which, in 1963, cost and lost more than any film ever had before (Mast 287).

Topical teenage films—horror, science fiction, rock’n’roll, juvenile delinquency and beach parties—gave rise to the other end of the cinematic production spectrum: Teenage Thunder, Untamed Youth, Hot Rod Rumble, Motorcycle Gang, Dragstrip Girl, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, Not of This Earth (all 1957), Joy Ride, Juvenile Jungle, Hot Car Girl, The Cool and the Crazy (1958), and Riot in Juvenile Prison (1959). This trend in production was accounted for and accompanied by the breakup of a single, homogenized mass “family” audience into more specialized audiences that were catered to by these films and the “rebellious youth” pictures discussed below (Ellis 375).

The Hollywood studios realized in mid-decade that teenagers were the backbone of the film audience, and therefore teen-oriented movies would be good investments. Peace and prosperity had provided the adolescents who grew out of the postwar baby boom with affluence and leisure time that had been denied their counterparts in the thirties and forties (Considine 42). Catering to teens was an opportunity to establish firm ties with a new demographic that had disposable income and free time and willing to spend both on entertainment (Lev 244). “With their parents firmly ensconced at home with their eyes glued to the television set, adolescents escaped to the drive-ins and the movie theaters that fulfilled their fantasies” (Considine 35).

And if it became obvious the kids were willing to spend their money on the movies, the studios were not entirely sure how to convince the parents to do the same. The plan was to, again, emphasize differences between films and television, and stress what the movies could offer and television could not. Organized pressure groups—religious, ethnic, political—had turned their attention away from what was showing in the theaters to what was appearing ever more widely on the tube. Because indecency laws for broadcasting were stricter than the Motion Picture Production Code, studios could differentiate their product by marketing some films as mature or for adults. The Majors adopted the Adults Only marketing ploy in the late 1950s and early 1960s, both as a warning and as an enticement on their lobby posters for mature films (Pennigton 10-11).

The postwar period can be called the age of the adaptation. Overwhelmingly, the adult-oriented films of the period were based on popular novels and plays. Studios and independent producers began buying the rights to famous works of stage and fiction, believing it was easier to sell these familiar properties to the public. The screen adaptations tried to maintain some of the sexual freedom that imbued the source material. Although the Code was still officially in effect, the social control placed on content was being loosened, which encouraged, if not always a greater maturity, at least a new freedom and frankness in the presentation of sexual behavior, states of undress, and kinds of language (Ellis 388-89). Faced with a shrinking market, studios pushed the limits of ambiguity, releasing films only marginally acceptable to the Production Code Administration.

As a result of the stricter television regulations, films could lure audiences with promises of franker, racier more adult entertainment. Films adapted from novels and plays like Peyton Place, From Here to Eternity, A Streetcar Named Desire, Compulsion, Advise and Consent, or Lolita could not possibly avoid references to adultery, fornication or homosexuality. These topics suited Hollywood just fine, in spite of the Production Code, when it came to its audience battle with television (Mast 288-89).

Original films (those not based on literary sources) quickly took on the same sexual frankness as literary adaptations. Movies like Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953) and Indiscreet (1958) mocked the injunction against adultery. Saucy comedies like Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959) included cross-dressing and hints of homosexuality (Pennington 11). Searching for a lure the new medium lacked, the film industry seized upon sexual relationships, social criticism, and new portrayals of violence and crime, and the moral principles of the Code were repeatedly slid and bent. By the end of the fifties, the once strict rules of the Code “became fuzzy and watered down to the point of meaninglessness” (Bohn and Stromgren 247).

Among the movies challenging the Code were the “rebellious youth” films of the fifties, most notably Laslo Benedeck’s The Wild One (1953) and Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which appeared as “a violent reaction against a decaying and diseased society” (Mast 297). “Throughout the 1950s juvenile delinquency went from a social realty to a national obsession and nothing or no one was more obsessed than the media” (Considine 33). If the literary adaptations of the period pushed the boundaries of sexual content in the movies, the juvenile delinquency pictures elevated Production Code-accepted levels of violence in the form of teenage crime and waywardness. Just as the teenagers of the films rebelled against the norms of society, the movies themselves rebelled against the Production Code, portraying behaviors like hot-rod racing, drinking and drug abuse, and premarital sex as dangerous and alluring (Klein 119).

The anti-establishment stance of the youth rebellion films successfully served the double function of attracting adolescents while appalling adults (Considine 36). Meanwhile, at home on the small screen, the parents of middle America had their own fantasies fulfilled in the same way teenage pictures fulfilled those of their children. Television served to placate their fears about allegedly rising juvenile delinquency, youthful excess and abandon. “Ozzie and Harriet never seemed to have trouble with David and Ricky….Wally and the Beaver, under the watchful eyes of Ward and June Cleaver, stuck to the straight and narrow” (Considine 35).

In contrast, teenage characters of the movies rebelled against the sterility, monotony, and conformity of normal adult life, and challenged television’s often saccharine, platitude-filled view of suburbia. While the small screen was trying to convince us that father knew best, the troubled adolescents of the movies rang a more authentic note. In Rebel Without a Cause, one of the causes of the protagonist’s behavior is pinpointed as the absence of a strong father. “If he had the guts to knock Mom cold once,” he complained, “maybe she’d be happy and stop picking on him. I don’t ever want to be like him…. How can a guy grow up in a circus like that?” In a perfect visual representation of the character’s inability to conform to a confining adult society, the slouching, mumbling young actor is often seen reclining or partly reclining, showing that he doesn’t match up with the everyday world of rigid right angles.

Despite Ray’s ironic title, most of these rebels had a cause; they rose up against the confined mediocrity of adult life. The youth rebellion movies reflected an actual spirit of disillusionment among the period’s adolescents that was nowhere to be seen on television before becoming pervasive in the mid-sixties. These films had protagonists whose alienation, nihilism, and impulses towards violence and rebellion were profoundly antisocial (Ray 163). “What are you rebelling against?” a naïve girl asks the smirking, motorcycle-riding Johnny (Marlon Brando) in The Wild One. “Whaddya got?” he answers. Johnny and the Black Rebels Motorcycle Gang, like urban outlaws riding their chrome and steel stallions through the hamlets of America, proclaim that the times are changing.


The times were indeed changing. The 1950s were years of transition for the American movie industry as much as for America itself. The “conservative inertia” of both Hollywood and its audience was tested for the first time; out of the three principal components that had produced the classical Hollywood period—the industry, the audience, and the situation of the country—not one escaped severe alterations (Ray 131). It is impossible to try to attribute all of the changes in the movie industry to the appearance of television, or, for that matter, to any one factor.
The film industry’s crumbling commercial and social health and the new developments put in place to assuage it were the result of a complex confluence of circumstances and changes, among them: the collapse of the studio as dictatorial head of production and the rise of independent producers; the fragmentation of the homogeneous mass audience; deprivation of overseas markets by European import tariffs and freezes on the removal of revenues; the U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. decision that the studios must sell their theaters; the Cold War years of suspicion and the increasing fear of the “Red Menace” which gave rise to the House Un-American Activities Committee witch hunts; the economic boom fueled by housing and consumerism; post-war American demographic shift from the cities to the suburbs, which increased public affluence, but also created new ways to spend leisure time (and leisure money). Television was only one factor of many that led to the changes in style, genre, content and the technological developments on the fifties’ movie industry. It was also, as shown through this paper, a very influential factor in bringing about these changes.


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