The Genius of the System

Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era

Ranked #38 in Cinematography, Ranked #50 in Cinemasee more rankings.

At a time when the studio is making a stunning comeback, film historian Thomas Schatz provides an indispensable account of Hollywood's tradional blend of business and art. This book lays to rest the persistent myth that businesspeople and producers stifle artistic talent and reveals instead the genius of a system of collaboration and conflict. Working from industry documents, Schatz traces the development of house styles, the rise and fall of careers, and the making-and unmaking-of movies, from Frankenstein to Spellbound to Grand Hotel. Richly illustrated and highly... more

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of The Genius of the System from the world's leading experts.

Marina Hyde It’s about how gradually the stars became more savvy: they started saying I want to do this or that kind of movie, because people don’t like to be told they’re one sort of star. But people didn’t want to see Bogart going insane for example: he’s a cynic, and also a romantic, and you want to see that Warners’ style. That’s something Schatz deals with ­– that all the major studios developed a very specific house style. MGM was the kind of massive, prestige house – they famously said they never made B-grade movies – whereas Warners had this reputation for gang movies, and Jimmy Cagney was their... (Source)

Jane Root This is an amazing book. It’s an academic book, but it reads like a novel. It was a very important book for me when I was studying film and television. Film theory was dominated for many years by the idea of the auteur, the single visionary director who managed, in the hell of the industrial system that was Hollywood’s studio system, to nonetheless produce amazing individual work. Thomas Schatz’s book is a complete antidote to that. While he doesn’t in any way argue that Alfred Hitchcock or John Ford weren’t great directors, he talks about the vigour and energy of the classical Hollywood... (Source)

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