Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood (2010) s01e05 Episode Script

Warriors & Peacemakers: 1941-1950

1939 had been a financial and artistic high point for Hollywood.
The year produced some of the most memorable movies of all time.
But the Depression decade of the 1930s had not been easy and moguls and movie stars faced the 1940s with uncertainty.
It would be a decade that began with a world war and record box office but end with one of the greatest challenges Hollywood ever faced.
In 1940, Twentieth Century Fox released The Grapes of Wrath based on the sad and stirring novel by John Steinbeck.
With vivid images and powerful emotion it captured on-screen the devastating impact of the Depression on American life.
It was also another example of producer, Darryl Zanuck's unusual willingness to take on tough subjects and go his own way.
He always felt that movies had a bigger place in everybody's existence and lives and was like literature that would last forever long after he was gone or anybody who had anything to do with it was gone.
And he listened to himself.
He didn't pay much attention to the others.
As director, Zanuck chose Hollywood veteran, John Ford.
Working within the moguls' tightly controlled studio system Ford made successful movies but most importantly, he came in on time and often under budget.
That assured his independence.
Once when a producer dared to show up on his set the crusty director asked, "Don't you have an office?" Film by film, Ford was creating a narrative vision of American history that was, to many, more influential than the real thing.
Henry Fonda, a young actor who'd come to Hollywood from the Broadway stage in 1935 starred as the ex-convict hero of The Grapes of Wrath.
Fonda's career showed that star power could be more than glamour and celebrity.
He embodied a quiet but determined sincerity that offered audiences a reassuring sense that America was an essentially decent and hopeful place even in the face of adversity and injustice.
In a time when protest and populist revolution were in the air Hollywood movies could suggest a sense of harsh reality but in the end, usually traded stirring sentiment for a call to action.
We keep a-coming.
We're the people that live.
They can't wipe us out.
They can't lick us.
We'll go on forever, Pa, because we're the people.
Along with reflections of the people and places of the real world movie audiences were more attracted to playful optimism and youthful energy.
In 1939, a personification of those qualities arrived in Hollywood in the fleshy form of a theatrical prodigy, 24-year-old Orson Welles.
Everything he touched he transformed.
He was the one great director of radio.
He was an extraordinary theater director.
He was an extraordinary film director.
Everybody says Citizen Kane is the best movie ever made.
He made it when he was 25.
Co-wrote it, directed it, produced it, starred in it.
Welles was a Hollywood outsider but his success in the theater and radio gave him the kind of notoriety that small-scale studio, RKO, thought just might draw audience interest and more important, money at the box office.
Given unprecedented independence, Welles was wise enough to recognize that studio heads had power but the success of a movie also rested with talented and creative men and women who worked in the assembly lines of the Hollywood image factories.
He joined forces with writer Herman Mankiewicz a hard-bitten Hollywood pro whose years of churning out bankable scripts gave him big paychecks and a serious drinking problem.
Also on his team were the inventive Academy Award winning cinematographer Gregg Toland and a skilled and enthusiastic 26-year-old editor Robert Wise.
Like Welles, Toland and Wise were eager to break out of studio straitjackets and try new things.
A thinly veiled biography of William Randolph Hearst Citizen Kane was audacious if not foolhardy.
A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms.
Those are the only terms anybody ever knows.
Hearst was a pioneering studio owner and his long-term relationship with actress Marion Davies was well-known in Hollywood.
Hearst's media empire wielded enormous influence providing the publicity that the moguls craved.
This 1929 telegram from the chief ordered one of his editors to provide "liberal publicity and a kindly review" for a Buster Keaton picture.
The Hearst press could also spread the kind of scandal that ended the career of comedian, Fatty Arbuckle.
Citizen Kane wasn't a big-budget picture but William Randolph Hearst and his mogul friends in Hollywood began to pay close attention.
And everybody thought, "Well, he's shown as a tycoon but a magnificent tycoon who changed American journalism and so forth.
What's he complaining about?" "Rosebud.
" - What's "Rosebud"? - That's what he said when he died.
That was his pet name for a part of the anatomy of his girlfriend.
And he knew perfectly well it had to come from somebody who knew them very well and he suspected the writer Herman Mankiewicz.
Under outside attack, Hollywood power rallied around its own.
Citizen Kane was hardly complete before a campaign led by Louis B.
Mayer was launched to halt its release.
RKO refused to be intimidated but big-studio control over theaters made sure Welles' film was rarely screened.
For a time, any mention of Citizen Kane and RKO were banned from the vast Hearst press.
But even that couldn't stop its ultimate influence.
Orson Welles had glimpsed the future of Hollywood power.
It is the beginnings of everything that will change in American cinema because it is the film, just as Welles is the filmmaker who will become the patron saint of director cinema, independent cinema artistic cinema cinema that flies in the face of the studio system and the factory.
It is the film that has influenced probably more young filmmakers not just in America, but all over the world.
It would take years before the influence of Citizen Kane would finally sink in.
Orson Welles began a long and frustrating career as the ultimate Hollywood outsider.
"I started at the top and worked down," he said later.
But in the early 1940s, the controversy over Citizen Kane was insignificant compared with far more catastrophic conflicts.
Since 1939, war had been raging in Europe but nearly 80 percent of Americans wanted no part of it.
Neither did the majority of Hollywood moviemakers.
Except one.
In 1940, Charlie Chaplin stood virtually alone when he dared to ridicule Hitler and Mussolini in The Great Dictator.
The Great Dictator was one of Chaplin's great triumphs because when he decided he wanted to talk, he had something to say.
What he's saying is, you know, this is not Satan.
Not some supernatural figure that we're up against.
This is a clown.
He's a fraud.
Are we really going to allow him to take over Europe? The courage of that film is something.
And more than the courage, you can watch it today and still be just dazzled by the nerviness of that.
Among the moguls, that kind of courage was in short supply.
With anti-Semitism on the rise, it was a conflictful time for the Jewish leaders of Hollywood, always concerned with their image.
The moguls became especially hesitant after a meeting with Ambassador to Great Britain and co-founder of RKO, Joseph P.
He got all of the producers together in a room and he said: "Now look, the time has come.
Uh, this fellow Hitler uh, has no interest in the United States, but he doesn't like Jews.
One of the things you've gotta do is stop putting any Jewish names on pictures.
" I mean, ha, ha, quite literally, the moguls walked out of this lunch just stunned.
They couldn't believe what they heard.
They thought, "We all came to this country penniless and look at us now.
We are moguls, we've invented this entire industry, this art form.
We're rich as can be and yet it might all be taken away tomorrow.
" After December 7th, 1941 all hesitation and doubts in the United States and the Hollywood film community came to an end.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor marked the fade out of the Depression and a call to arms.
This abrupt turnaround was expressed in a project Warner Bros.
Had planned as just another love story.
Casablanca entered the studio system on December 8, 1941 one day after Pearl Harbor.
If Casablanca had come to Warner Bros six months earlier, nine months earlier I doubt whether this story would have been bought at all because at that time Hollywood was fairly fearful of dealing with fascism.
Humphrey Bogart was a perfect metaphor in that movie for America itself.
Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean, what you're fighting for.
We might as well question why we breathe.
If we stop breathing we'll die.
Stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.
Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.
You know how you sound, Monsieur Blaine? Like a man trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.
Co-starring Ingrid Bergman, a rising star from Sweden and produced by respected Hollywood executive, Hal Wallis few involved with Casablanca had any idea that they were making more than just another Warner Bros.
Hard-edged love story.
With contributions from teams of writers who debated the final scene until the last minute of production Casablanca is a prime example of the Hollywood studio system at work and the sometimes-accidental nature of motion-picture success.
When Oscar time arrived, it also revealed the unbridled ego that drove the movie moguls.
When it was announced as Best Picture Hal Wallis, executive producer at Warner Bros.
And nurtured the film got up to accept the Oscar but Jack Warner, who had never taken much interest in the film ran ahead and beat him to the stage.
Well, Hal Wallis was so angry and felt so betrayed he gave his notice the next day and moved over to Paramount Studios and became an independent producer there.
While Jack Warner was outmaneuvering Hal Wallis at the Oscars the United States and Great Britain were taking the offensive in Europe and the Pacific.
As they had done in World War I, moguls and movie stars signed up to wave the American flag on movie screens and raise money for the war effort.
During the first months of combat, many of the moguls wangled commissions and paraded studio grounds as Hollywood colonels in tailor-made uniforms.
But more than a few stars, like Tyrone Power James Stewart and Clark Gable were willing to fight for real.
The moguls were proud of their contributions to wartime morale but also cautious.
Although most were conservative Republicans they were especially eager to keep on President Franklin Roosevelt's good side.
During the tough financial times of the Depression the Roosevelt administration had begun to take a look at Hollywood business practices and the astronomical salaries of moguls and movie stars.
The President could be a wily and determined ally as well as adversary and perhaps even shrewder than they were.
Roosevelt watched movies very carefully and became sort of, you know, a master of them.
He always referred to his newsreels as "my Garbos.
" "I shall do a Garbo tomorrow on the situation at war.
" I have said not While President Roosevelt provided leadership and inspiration American industry geared up to build tanks and bombers.
Hollywood's contribution was entertainment, propaganda and movie-making expertise.
Altogether, 6000 studio workers would leave for active military duty.
The Hal Roach studios became known as Fort Roach as studio craftsmen made training films and documentaries often featuring second-tier actors like Ronald Reagan.
Radial engine, oil cooler, air scoop at bottom of nose.
It's a Zero.
Government and Washington realized early on that movies were important for the war effort.
What had started 50 years before as this kind of penny-arcade novelty really now had the ability to change minds.
Some of Hollywood's greatest directors, including John Ford George Stevens William Wyler and John Huston were commissioned to make documentaries.
The wheels of the Memphis Belle come back to the soil of England for the 25th time.
This is a day they will never forget.
In Washington, D.
, director, Frank Capra was a colonel.
General George Marshall had enlisted Capra to do this and he went to the Pentagon for the first meeting and he walks into this big room and there were about 14 generals there.
And Capra looks at them and he says, "Well, boys," he said: "Are we gonna talk about motion pictures?" And they said, "Oh, yes, Mr.
" And he says, "Then I sit at the head of the table.
" And he went and took his place at the head of the table with all of these generals.
He knew the American spirit.
He knew what the dream of America was.
And he knew how to shape and control audiences.
He'd been doing it for quite a while at the highest level.
He told us as Americans why we should fight.
Americans, fighting for their country, while half a world away from it.
Fighting for their country, and for more than their country.
Fighting for an idea.
Tonight is a big night here.
Bette Davis and John Garfield supported the troops at the highly publicized Hollywood Canteen a gathering place where off-duty soldiers could experience real life close-ups with their favorite stars.
Barbara, here's a hungry soldier, feed him plenty.
- Okay.
- You're Barbara Stanwyk.
How can you tell? I must tell you that back at the Hollywood Canteen when I danced with and spoke with those thousands of raw young boys about to face World War II they were all being Bogart right then.
He was the idol, the person to try to be like and to sound like.
A lot more people are gonna die before this is over and it's up to the ones that come through to make sure that they didn't die for nothing.
Overseas, servicemen carried Hollywood with them.
Humphrey Bogart may have been a tough-guy pal but Betty Grable was a more popular fox-hole companion.
You all know who Betty Grable is.
Hollywood's answer to the fuel shortage.
And here she is, Betty Grable.
Bob Hope offered diversion with a barrage of jokes.
Adding singing and dancing, Hollywood was at the heart of the American war machine.
Factories were working shifts around the clock.
The only form of entertainment was movies.
Movie theaters changed their double bill three times a week and people went to movies every night in the week.
Movie studios were making fortunes.
It was not only good for business, but it was good for the kind of emotional heart of Hollywood.
As their contribution to wartime morale the moguls provided diverting entertainment but also their own versions of overseas battles and life in the military.
Yesterday, a Marine landing corps cleared out our sector.
We're ready to move in.
There was something reassuring about movie reality.
I think during the '40s you have war movies because a war movie has an ending.
In 1942, you don't know what the ending of war's gonna be.
It's, in a strange way, comforting to know that you can at least you can try to make sense out of it, tell a story about the war and it has an ending.
Leading the on-screen fight for victory Hollywood's biggest combat hero, John Wayne was a civilian who rarely participated in war effort activities.
Yet the sturdy cowboy hero represented the ultimate image of the American fighting man.
I want every spare machine gun at this canyon so you can rake the ravine.
If you're a kid going into the Army Wayne is the officer, the sergeant, or the captain that you'd like to have.
You feel he's damned good at what he does and he'll look after you as far as he can.
Hold your fire until you get them under your guns, then let them have it.
And of course, in the war years war films really needed that kind of comfort in them because they were for audiences of either the young men or for their sweethearts as the young men were going off to war.
"I miss you, of course, and think of you all the time.
I am proud that I am serving my country, which to me is Ithaca our home and all the Macauleys.
" From their earliest days the Hollywood moguls projected the American Dream on-screen.
During World War II the patriotic visions of studio heads like Louis B.
Mayer were more powerful and appealing than ever.
He had this ideal vision of America, as many immigrants did.
They came here and they thought, "This culture isn't shaped yet.
" Of course, it was already over a hundred years old but he felt that this new medium could somehow shape people's values and he thought he could have a hand in those values.
He had this idea of, "I am going to create the America that I want on the screen.
" Mayer could be sentimental, but he was tough not averse to using his fists to express displeasure.
But during the late '30s and war years there was no better example of Louis B.
Mayer's America than the on-screen adventures of Andy Hardy and his family starring Mickey Rooney.
He really loved Mickey Rooney.
Mickey Rooney could do no wrong.
And Mickey Rooney, to him, was the ultimate Louis B.
Mayer star.
Rooney was in silent films when he was 6.
During the 1930s he became a brash alternative to Shirley Temple surpassing her box-office appeal in 1939.
For everybody loves a band When he was paired with Judy Garland they were the ideal of young America.
A hundred million folks agree That a tune can stir a nation So music master take command The sheer energy of these two people on film, dancing their hearts out, singing their hearts out was intoxicating, was contagious to a nation which needed to feel good which needed to know there was hope, which needed to be happy.
In the morning And those films showed an ideal America, an America that might not exist but an America that we were fighting for, an America our boys were fighting for an America that we wanted them to come home to.
Tired of playing little girls or teenagers Judy Garland didn't want to do Meet Me in St.
Louis but it turned out to be one of her finest performances.
It was a movie that offered war-weary Americans comforting reassurance that after years of violence and turmoil there was always home and family.
Great stars could be dazzling but they also offered a comforting consistency even as roles and movies changed.
Hollywood stars were each different, but they were also predictable.
This sense of security was especially valuable during the uncertainties of World War II.
All the stars of the talking period had peculiarities.
They talked funny.
They didn't talk like everybody else.
Cagney talked like this.
Cary Grant talked like that.
Jimmy Stewart talked I mean, they all They don't sound normal and they were peculiar.
If he'll reprieve Earl Williams we'll support him for senator.
- What? - The Morning Post will be behind him.
But you can't do that.
The audience liked that.
They could expect that when they went to see a film with them.
It was like a brand name almost.
Hollywood star power was based on consistency but also artful variation.
By the war years, Cary Grant was well-established as the ideal leading man in drama or comedy.
He could do both equally well including the ultimate performance transforming himself from Archie Leach, his birth name and rising above a troubled Bristol, England childhood.
His career was an example of the kind of personal transformation that was essential to the long-term success of many of the most powerful Hollywood moguls and movie stars.
He's a figure of the movies.
Only thing I can say from having a bit to do with him at the end of his life was you could not believe how insecure he was.
Everything about him was confidence on-screen.
And in life, he was desperately insecure.
Cary Grant would talk about Cary Grant and I think deep down inside of him he still talked to Archie Leach and he believed that Cary Grant was a fabrication.
He occasionally said things like, "I wish I was Cary Grant.
" Movie audiences may have been unaware of Cary Grant's insecurities but the battle-scarred early 1940s were far from a time of innocence.
One Hollywood director allowed Americans to laugh at the ironies and absurdities of war even as the United States was fighting for its life.
There's lots of people who have been very successful by doing what other people did.
Preston Sturges was successful by doing what nobody else did.
No one like him.
He was a real original.
He used the American idiom and wrote some of the funniest movies ever made.
During the 1930s and '40s, filmmakers like versatile, Howard Hawks had acquired independence as directors.
But Preston Sturges was the first Hollywood writer to parlay the power of his words into true creative control when he became a writer/director.
His irreverent and fast-talking films were embraced as an antidote to the deadly seriousness of the times.
Hail the Conquering Hero played havoc with war heroes.
They want heroes, we got six of them, all right? We throw a seventh for good luck.
Who's counting? Can you imagine getting hitched up in the middle of the night to somebody that's going away that you might never see again? The Miracle of Morgan's Creek somehow slipped past the censors with the misadventures of Betty Hutton as a wartime mother without a husband and Eddie Bracken as her befuddled 4F boyfriend.
And don't ask me if I'm sure I'm married because I am sure.
How can you be sure if there's no name in the record? How can you possibly be sure? - Trudy, you don't mean? - That's right.
In Sullivan's Travels Preston Sturges mocked Hollywood's sense of self-importance.
I want this to be a picture of dignity, a true canvas of suffering.
- But with a little sex.
- With a little sex.
How about a musical? Whether it be depression exposés or wartime propaganda movies are really a medium for entertainment, he says not social tracts.
A cartoon can be the best medicine in tough times.
The moguls enthusiastically agreed.
With the end of World War II in 1945 crowds celebrated on Hollywood Boulevard and across the country.
America was exhausted, exhilarated, and most of all, a very different nation.
As they had done many times before audiences looked to the movies to find themselves and the moguls were searching for new images.
In 1946, Sam Goldwyn wasn't known for tough and timely films but he prided himself on good stories and quality.
Goldwyn's important director, William Wyler, used to say And Goldwyn drove him absolutely crazy.
Sam Goldwyn wants every movie to say, "Produced by Samuel Goldwyn directed by Samuel Goldwyn, written by Samuel Goldwyn starring Sam Goldwyn.
" That being said I think perhaps one of the best qualities about Goldwyn is he would let each craftsman, each artist, do his or her job.
He would throttle them.
He would shake them.
Lillian Hellman, who wrote a lot of screenplays for him said that he was a little like a man in front of a slot machine shaking it for more nickels to come out.
Sam Goldywn liked money.
But more than anything, what he wanted from Hollywood was respect.
That meant a Best Picture Academy Award.
After 20 years of disappointment, the honor came in 1946 with a moving film that summed up an America recovering from four years of the loss and dislocation of war and now facing the promise and uncertainties of a fresh start.
The Best Years of Our Lives was the most important film in Samuel Goldwyn's career, professionally and personally.
And it turned out to be one of the most significant films, I think, ever made.
Magnificent movie.
And I came into it, as I think probably any veteran would uh, a little suspicious.
We'd been through an earth-shattering, life-changing experience of our own and we weren't about to, uh, accept any bullshit version of what that experience had been like.
Well, it not only didn't have any bullshit, it just portrayed what we thought what we felt right down to the core of our being.
For irascible, independent Sam Goldwyn the Academy Awards for 1946 were as life-changing as the film had been to many World War II veterans.
He felt that the Academy Awards were run by the big studios.
He always felt he would never get one.
And he went home that night and he looked at the award and he sat and cried.
It meant a great deal.
He never wanted to admit that he wanted one because he didn't think he'd get it.
Post-war Hollywood needed a new vision and revitalized stars to realize it on-screen.
After starting his career as a lightweight juvenile on stage and second string hood in movies Humphrey Bogart made an amazing transformation.
In a country that prided itself on the power of possibilities Bogart personified it on-screen.
In High Sierra, Raoul Walsh casts him as a gangster who's almost ready to reform, but fate won't let him.
And then in The Maltese Falcon, John Huston plays him as a hero although a hero with many of the manners and behavior of a gangster.
And then comes Casablanca.
And really for the first time in Bogart's career in Casablanca and it's remarkable to think of it, he has a love relationship.
Here's looking at you, kid.
He was not a natural screen lover at all.
And then makes To Have and Have Not the example where the magic of the movies runs over into real life and this 19-year-old Lauren Bacall turns up in his life.
And it's one of the most interesting transitions in star personality.
It's even better when you help.
The war had been wonderful for movie box office.
Hollywood made fewer films and audience attendance increased.
1946 was an all-time box-office peak.
Everyone in Hollywood became enormously confident that they had They understood how to do this thing called moviemaking.
What they never saw was that the war had changed the way people thought.
Film noir comes in, quite different mood.
Film noir was a fancy term coined by French critics to define a darker vision of movies.
Many of them B pictures low-budget second features on the bottom of a double bill.
There were higher profile noir films like The Maltese Falcon Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice.
But to the moguls in the 1940s true Hollywood power and prestige remained with glossy A pictures and the glamour of carefully cultivated stars.
Often it was a mogul whim that switched on the studio star machine.
Mayer sent for me to say how delighted he was with my work and that he had made a great discovery.
I had sex appeal.
"You have sex, sex, sex.
" And he strode his office, which was a large one shouting, "Sex appeal.
" And he was now going to build me into a major star.
On-screen, actresses with sex appeal were reliable box office.
But off-screen, the war had given women a new perspective of their place in America.
During the war, women had been the breadwinners.
Women had been in factories.
Women had been working while the men were away fighting.
They never lost that sense, even though they were pushed back into the kitchens and to raise families.
But there was that lingering, "Hey, it used to be different I used to be running things.
" Since her flapper days in the 1920s Joan Crawford had continually reinvented herself and kept her career alive.
Joan Crawford pulled off probably the greatest reinvention of all when she reinvented herself from a '30s shop girl and society flighty woman to a '40s, really, film-noir heroine.
Reflecting male insecurities film-noir heroines were alluring and not to be trusted.
Off-screen, the war years offered real opportunities for women.
On-screen, stars like Joan Crawford often portrayed independent characters struggling with changing times.
It's almost impossible to tell the history of feminism in America without bringing Joan Crawford in.
I don't mean that Joan Crawford was a feminist but the character she embodied was always a portent of the way women were moving in America and sometimes decades ahead of that movement.
You look down on me because I work for a living, don't you? You always have.
All right, I work.
I cook food and sell it and make a profit on it which I might point out, you're not too proud to share.
In Hollywood, while women on-screen were more assertive off camera was another matter.
Women were production pioneers in the early days and female writers had major influence in the teens and '20s.
By the 1940s, costume designer Edith Head, winner of eight Oscars influenced the fashion sense of Paramount Pictures but Dorothy Arzner was the only female member of the Director's Guild.
As stars, women were often catered to but in the end, they were just studio property borrowed and exchanged like valuable trading cards.
In 1940, Sam Goldwyn wanted Bette Davis for The Little Foxes.
He offered Gary Cooper in exchange, but Jack Warner never traded Bette Davis.
Well, almost never.
Both Jack Warner and Sam Goldwyn, and all the moguls, played a lot of cards and they played at very big stakes.
And there was one point where Jack Warner was in hock to Sam Goldwyn to the tune of some 350 to $400,000.
And suddenly it was, "Well, if we can forgive the card debt yes, I think Bette Davis, we could make the swap with Gary Cooper.
" And that would suddenly work.
In the old days, in the studio system in Hollywood what we called The Golden Era, stars worked six days a week.
They had Sundays off, not Saturdays.
They reported to the studios very early in the morning, sometimes 6 a.
M usually the women because they had to have their hair done their clothes ironed and put on.
They had long working days.
It was not an easy life.
They were owned.
Challenging the studio contract system took individual courage, even for the biggest stars.
Power struggles between stars and studios are old.
When a star refused to take a role the mogul would respond by putting them on hiatus without pay until that film was completed with somebody else.
Well, then a seven-year contract could become a seven-years-plus-six-months-or-more contract.
Olivia de Havilland checked the law books and found that was illegal under California law, and she fought back in court.
It was incredibly brave of her.
I mean, nobody had challenged mogul power like that before.
Well, she won the court case, shortly after, she won two Oscars as best actress.
Olivia de Havilland's court victory was a turning point in Hollywood history.
It limited the moguls' unlimited power over actors' contracts.
It gave stars new control over their careers.
And also enhanced the influence of the agents who represented them.
During the 1930s, David O.
Selznick's brother, Myron brashly took on mogul power and became one of the most influential and hated men among Hollywood's studio elite.
But Myron's heavy drinking took its toll on his health and his client list.
Defeated and deeply in debt, he died in 1944.
During the 1930s and '40s, Charles Feldman was another agent who also made a difference in the balance of Hollywood power.
Unlike hostile and acerbic, Myron Selznick Feldman was genteel and collaborative as he chipped away at studio supremacy.
Using his background as a lawyer he negotiated non-exclusive short-term contracts that gave flexibility to his clients' careers.
He also established profit-sharing deals trading high up-front fees for a back-end piece of the action.
Later, Feldman became a successful producer pioneering a new career path for Hollywood agents.
But during the 1940s, the future of Hollywood power was tied to the rise of the agency, Music Corporation of America, MCA and cool and dapper, Lew Wasserman.
Lew Wasserman started as dirt-poor as you can be in Cleveland down by the ghettos and the burlesque houses.
Because he was so poor found movies to be an escape, like kids today.
The son of immigrants from Russia Wasserman was smart and enterprising like the original studio founders.
In high school, Wasserman was a member of the camera club but more famous as manager of the senior-class show.
Designated class salesman, one classmate remarked: "Funny how Lew always manages to handle the money end of a job.
" At 23, Wasserman began working for Jules Stein, the founder of MCA.
While studying to become an optometrist Stein had started booking dance bands in mob-ruled Chicago.
Soon, MCA controlled the majority of big-band talent and Stein was eyeing Hollywood.
Jules Stein sent Lew Wasserman to Hollywood in 1938 because Jules had had such a hard time getting started in Hollywood.
Lew Wasserman faced a real tough crowd when he came to Hollywood.
He had people like Louis B.
Mayer who, at the time, was the ruler of Hollywood.
The Warner Bros.
, who They were just Jack Warner was notoriously a screamer.
But Lew impressed them with his business skill.
In fact, these men learned something from Lew Wasserman in the way Lew conducted himself in a very professional manner and the sorts of deals he did.
In fact, one of them said, "I never ever meet with Lew before noon because I'm not awake then.
He's too quick for me.
" And indeed he was.
By the end of the 1940s MCA was a central source of Hollywood power.
It grew like the moguls built their studios merging with or ruthlessly buying out the competition.
Along with a precise command of the details of a deal and a shrewd sense of what would sell an essential source of Wasserman's power was keeping his clients well-paid and happy.
Lew Wasserman was a born agent.
I used to have dinner at their house quite often and Lew had a phone beside him right beside his plate at the table.
And he took every call that came.
He never said, "I'll call you back.
" And even with guests at the table, he took his clients' calls and their needs took priority with him.
The value of star power was well-established in 1940s Hollywood what was uncertain was what post-war audiences wanted to see on-screen.
Changed by the harsh realities of the war years many film-goers were looking for movies with an edge.
Ignored or oppressed segments of American society also felt empowered by the triumph of democracy.
Hollywood responded with movies with a message with plotlines built around social injustice and racial prejudice.
As the United States fought for freedom during World War II African-Americans faced combat but the military had been segregated.
This irony didn't escape a few courageous filmmakers ready to shine a light on unfinished business in post-war America.
And so you do have these enterprising filmmakers who decide to do a different kind of movie, one of the first was Hollywood's great liberal, Stanley Kramer.
And Stanley Kramer does the movie, Home of the Brave.
And Home of the Brave is about a black GI, played by the actor, James Edwards.
- Private Moss reporting for duty, sir.
- I don't know about you but I'm not going on a job like this with some boogie.
And he has to deal with racial taunts while he's on this mission, and he has a breakdown.
- Where's Finch? - He's all right.
Don't worry.
Since the days of pioneering black filmmaker, Oscar Michaeux African-Americans were impatient to see the truth about their lives in American movies.
The film, Home of the Brave took on racism but its first target was another source of prejudice.
Originally, Home of the Brave, it had been a play, the character originally had been Jewish and it dealt with anti-Semitism.
They changed it.
The moguls may have been hesitant about confronting continuing anti-Semitism but in 1947, Darryl Zanuck faced it head on in Gentleman's Agreement.
I told you I don't like officers.
I especially don't like them if they're yids.
All the studio heads, he was the only gentile at the time and they all were very much against him doing it and all individually talked to him about it, "Darryl, don't go there.
" And, uh, he felt a responsibility because he thought it was a good story, and he thought it was an issue that should be exposed.
He went ahead but it wasn't something that the other studios would ever have dared to do.
Gentleman's Agreement starred firm-jawed and principled, Gregory Peck.
A University of California at Berkeley pre-med student who turned to the theater in New York, Peck came to Hollywood in 1943.
Here, many of the roles he played reflected a post-war social consciousness in American movies that had been growing since the 1930s.
In the 1940s, this activist attitude would result in a bruising Hollywood power struggle involving moguls movie stars and a restive studio workforce.
A militant labor movement was growing in power and influence.
As always, the moguls fought any challenge to their control.
During the 1930s, to keep the lid on many studios turned to Willie Bioff a tough union boss with connections to organized crime.
Willie is a wing of the Capone Mob, goes in and says: "For $50,000 a year from the major studios and $25,000 from the smaller studios we will guarantee you have no labor problems and we will keep your salaries extraordinarily low.
" One might think that moguls like Louis B.
Mayer Jack Warner and others would not give into this kind of stuff.
Don't want anyone coming in on their business, except it was a good decision.
So for them, 50 grand a year was chump change compared to the money they saved.
The payoff scheme was discovered and Bioff was convicted for extortion in 1941.
The man who passed on the bribes from the studios Chairman of the Board of 20th Century Fox, Joseph Schenck spent four months in prison for perjury and tax fraud.
The Bioff-Schenck convictions didn't end labor strife in Hollywood.
In 1941, corporate father figure, Walt Disney felt betrayed when animators formed picket lines outside his new Burbank studio.
In 1945, Jack Warner watched as strikers clashed with rival unionists and city police outside his studio gates.
Many of the Hollywood moguls, especially Disney were convinced Communist radicals were behind post-war worker unrest.
And by the end of the 1940s, the studio heads were not alone.
Americans felt that something had gone terribly wrong that somehow the great aims and goals of the war had been betrayed and the sense was, "Let's find out what went wrong.
Let's root out the rats that are occupying our house.
" In the U.
Congress the House Committee on Un-American Activities, HUAC had been formed in the '30s.
In the late '40s, HUAC turned its attention to the powerful image factories of Hollywood.
In 1947, HUAC subpoenaed 43 Hollywood figures to investigate alleged Communist influence.
In response, the committee for the First Amendment was formed made up of some of Hollywood's most prominent directors, writers and actors.
They chartered a plane to Washington.
Among those onboard was MGM actress, Marsha Hunt.
The best-known names on our flight were Bogart, Bogie, and Betty and her nickname, Lauren Bacall and Danny Kaye was certainly a very, very major star then.
Ten witnesses, mostly writers, refused to cooperate with the committee.
They were often cut off before they could speak the results of their protests didn't turn out as they had hoped.
- From what I have written.
- Stand away from the stand.
- For Americanism - for many years, and I refuse - Stand away from the stand.
The screenwriters, unfortunately, handled themselves poorly.
They started making grandiose speeches in the middle of these hearings.
Your purpose is to use this to disrupt the motion-picture industry.
They didn't realize that it wasn't important what you said it was important how you looked.
And they looked dangerous.
Are you a member? They gave the committee the impetus and the inspiration to continue their hunt for Communist radicals in Hollywood.
Hollywood moguls and movie stars were on the defensive.
Humphrey Bogart gets a call from the studio saying: "Get back to Hollywood, you're jeopardizing your entire career.
" And he flies back, and the next day he issues a public statement saying, "I was duped, I didn't understand the full scope of Red infiltration.
" Committee on the First Amendment basically falls apart.
The whole truth, nothing but truth, so help you God? The industry was aghast.
And suddenly there were headlines scaring the movie-going public that maybe it wasn't safe to go to the movies.
Maybe you were having your patriotism subverted by hidden lines that you weren't really aware of.
One of the most respected of the group now known as the Hollywood 10 was 42-year-old screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo.
Dalton Trumbo was this feisty, two-fisted little writer from Colorado who had grown up in rough times, went to work for the studios in the '30s did well for himself, got involved with the Writer's Guild and leftist Hollywood politics early.
And by '46, '47 was one of the highest paid writers in Hollywood.
Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist party? I have the right to be confronted with any evidence which supports this question.
I should like to see what you have.
Trumbo wasn't one to give in.
Others would search for a way out.
The problem you are faced with when the committee asks you: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" is that if you answer yes, they then say, "Who else?" Despite their protests, the 10 unfriendly witnesses were cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to jail time.
Shortly after the hearings the anxious moguls gathered in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
They were determined to show the public, more importantly the U.
Government that could seriously interfere in their business that they were true patriots and Hollywood was no haven for Reds.
As usual, independent Sam Goldwyn stood apart.
My father was very much against it.
He felt that this blacklist thing was morally wrong and it was gonna bite Hollywood in the rear, which it did.
A majority of studio executives, either reluctantly or eagerly, went along.
Ideological termites have burrowed into many American industries organizations and societies.
Wherever they may be I say let us dig them out and get rid of them.
My brothers and I will be happy to subscribe generously to a pest-removal fund.
Like a lot of Jewish Americans he was worried his patriotism was being questioned and something terrible would happen.
Nobody was very heroic.
They all, as Orson said, they ruined lives to protect their swimming pools.
By the end of the 1940s anti-Communism was increasing in America but there was an even larger threat to the movie business one that could shake the studio system to its foundations.
A key factor in terms of the end of the old studio system the end of classical Hollywood, end of the Golden Age was an antitrust suit filed by the government and ultimately in an unanimous Supreme Court decision the, you know, the courts looked at this studio system and said: "This looks lot like a monopoly to us.
" Known as the Paramount Decree the 1948 Supreme Court decision ruled studios had to divest themselves of their theaters and relinquish their stranglehold on distribution.
It marked the beginning of the end of the all-inclusive entertainment empires the moguls had been building since the 1920s.
As the 1940s were coming to an end Hollywood power was in the shadows of The Red Scare.
At the same time, movie stars continued to demand independence.
And worst of all, the moguls' theater-based entertainment monopolies were no longer legal.
Then, if that weren't enough, a blinking little box appeared and grew brighter in American living rooms.
With blurry, black-and-white images and primitive programming it was ridiculed as a fad.
But so had Edison's Kinetoscope 1920s radio broadcasts Wait a minute.
You ain't heard nothing yet.
and the scratchy sound of The Jazz Singer.
By 1950, like it or not, Hollywood and America were about to be transformed again.