Then hollywood star system and its importance to society

Essay by dunkUniversity, Bachelor'sB, February 2004

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Hollywood Essay Shane Gladstone

"What was the significance of stars to the Hollywood film industry? What was the basis of audience attraction to them? Illustrate your answer with reference to particular stars"


Schools and churches are institutions in society where priests and teachers act as spokespersons to spread a certain set of attitudes, beliefs and values. Similarly, Hollywood is also a very powerful modern day institution, where a stars image can re-appropriate shape and circulate societal myths and ideologies. This above-mentioned process is what I intend to analyse and discuss throughout the content of this essay. I hope to show examples of how film stars during the classical Hollywood era became in some places more important than the narrative vehicles within which they were starring.

Consequently, through the answering of these questions I will provide a detailed account of the importance to and effect on everyday society these 'stars' had.

Within this analysis I will make reference to the film star Marlene Dietrich as a reinforcement of the opinions I offer through my discussion.

The Hollywood Studio System

Before I can discuss the underlying issues of the question I firstly need to explain the development and rise of the system which determined its possibility.

Three companies had by the mid 1920's firmly established themselves within the area of film exhibition. Paramount gained the most control during this period. Between 1919, when it floated a $10million of preferred stock, and 1921 Paramount had succeeded in building up an empire which had the foremost production, distribution and exhibition capacity. "Paramount made better films, there was nothing in the Mayer-Thalberg inventory that could compare with Lubitsch's trouble in paradise, or the early Marx Bros or early Mae West" (Charyn:74) However it was MGM who were in control of the vast proportion...