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Hollywood Poster Art
A brief history of Hollywood and poster art of the past.

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The Only Act in Town

While many of the grand old movie theaters are now gone, the motion picture industry has survived and continues to thrive today. Times have changed for sure. Motion picture industries no longer have a monopoly over audiences as they once did. No longer are they the only show in town, television and other modern day electronics share the attention of the largest audience. They learned to adjust with the times maintaining a significant role to entertainment business. Their films are widely distributed not only in theaters, but to other media outlets that include rentals, DVD media and movies made for television.

Live Theater and Vaudeville

When the motion picture was invented, it marveled the few that first saw it. Only a rare few thought it would be more than a novelty. Well, it has been marveling audiences ever since. The first motion pictures were very short skits by basically vaudeville actors demonstrating the moving picture. Vaudeville actors made their fame providing short acts for live theater and moving pictures were a natural evolution for them just like radio was when it first gained popularity. Well, the rare few believers in moving pictures turned out to be right, and it wasn't long before the motion picture industry replaced lived theater on center state of theaters most everywhere.

A Star System is Born

The early motion pictures were silent film supported by a live music and sound man to create sound effects as a back drop to the show. Silent films developed the first tier of movie stars. Even today, names like Rudolf Valentino and Charley Chaplin are remembered because of their early stardom. But, it was the introduction of sound in films that dramactically changed the viewers experience and create a kingdom of star recognition that prevails strongly yet today. Hollywood, California was the place where it all happended. Giant studios were created to produced films by a troupe of actors they held under contract. Actors had little choice in their the roles they accepted unless they had risen to the top of the star list. Today, stars are pretty independent using managers to find roles they want to play.

Amazing Productions

The competition between studios like Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), 20th Century Fox, Paramount and others was intense. The capabilities of producing better and more spectucular movies rapidly involved from new technologies and techniques never before seen. These large studios were massive, complete sets (towns, scenes, etc.) were built to improve their realism and effect on an audience. As technology grew, cameras and equipment became more mobile and scenes were shot on location. And, the cost of making movies did as well. That evolution continues yet today with computerize effects bring surrealist scenes that could only be imagined before.

The Reign of Musicals

A truly magnificent period were the 1940s and 1950s when Hollywood showered audiences with musical productions. These films were centered on the musical score versus the storyline typical of other movies. And, the actors were muscians and dancers of the stage. Musicals still are produced, but they are a rarity. Here again, their demise to history was assured when television became the dominate vehicle to reach the masses. For those who may not have lived through early decades of TV may not know, but many vaudeville actors moved from movies to radio and then onto TV. Milton Beryle, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and many others found an anxious audience for their entertainment offerings. Musicals thrived in TV while in movies they slowing faded in popularity. Some excellent but rare musicals have captured the appeal of audiences, "West Side Story" and "Grease" are two that represent this breed. The big screen is still the best place to see a musical, only a live stage performance might be better, but not everyone lives in a large city like New York where live theater still endures.

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