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Hollywood and the Great DepressionAmerican Film, Politics and Society in the 1930s$
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Iwan Morgan and Philip John Davies

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699926

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The Congressional Battle over Motion Picture Distribution, 1936–40

The Congressional Battle over Motion Picture Distribution, 1936–40

(p.86) Chapter 4 The Congressional Battle over Motion Picture Distribution, 1936–40
Hollywood and the Great Depression

Catherine Jurca

Edinburgh University Press

Using largely un-researched congressional records, this chapter examines the four hearings held between 1936 and 1940 on trade practices in distribution, notably block-booking and blind selling, which underwrote an effective big-studio monopoly. It examines how the material problem of getting commercial entertainment from the scene of production to thousands of theatres nationwide impacted on the way various elements in the film industry, notably the big studios and independent exhibitors, represented its practices, as well as its products, both to Congress and to themselves. Although the studios were able to frustrate legislative efforts to challenge their interests, this only ensured that the Justice Department would seek legal redress through the courts. The coming of World War II briefly suspended New Deal efforts to strengthen federal regulation of the film business but the seeds were sewn by the end of the 1930s for the US v Paramountet al Supreme Court decision that did much to undermine studio power by requiring separation of the ownership of production and exhibition of films.

Keywords:   Congress, Film distribution, Hollywood studios, Independent exhibitors, Justice Department

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