Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers

By Hortense Powdermaker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Habitat and People, Mythical and Real

THERE IS ONLY ONE HOLLYWOOD in the world. Movies are made in London, Paris, Milan and Moscow, but the life of these cities is relatively uninfluenced by their production. Hollywood is a unique American phenomenon with a symbolism not limited to this country. It means many things to many people. For the majority it is the home of favored, godlike creatures. For others, it is a "den of iniquity" -- or it may be considered a hotbed of Communism or the seat of conservative reaction; a center for creative genius, or a place where mediocrity flourishes and able men sell their creative souls for gold; an important industry with worldwide significance, or an environment of trivialities characterized by aimlessness; a mecca where everyone is happy, or a place where cynical disillusionment prevails. Rarely is it just a community where movies are made. For most movie-goers, particularly in this country, the symbolism seems to be that of a never-never world inhabited by glamorous creatures, living hedonistically and enjoying their private swimming pools and big estates, attending magnificent parties, or being entertained in famous night clubs. The other symbols belong to relatively small groups of people.1

Of all the symbols, sex and wealth are the most important. Every Hollywood male is supposed to be a "wolf" and every Hollywood female a tempting object easily seduced. The movie fans, worshiping their heroes, believe this. The members of a church

____________________
1
The majority of novels dealing directly with Hollywood ( Bud Schulberg, What Makes Sammy Run. New York: Random House. Carl Van Vechten, Spider Boy: A scenario for a moving picture. New York: Knopf. Francis Scott K. Fitzgerald , The Last Tycoon: An unfinished novel. New York: Scribners. Caroll and Garrett Graham, Queer People. New York: Grosset and Dunlap. Ludwig Bemelmans, Dirty Eddie. New York: Viking -- and others) are cynical or depressing in tone and characterized by disillusionment. Some of these novels have been popular, but not on the top of best-seller lists. The group they reach is comparatively very small, a section of the intelligentsia.

-16-

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Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction - Why an Anthropologist Studied Hollywood 3
  • Chapter I - Habitat and People, Mythical and Real 16
  • Chapter II - Mass Production of Dreams 39
  • Chapter III - Taboos 54
  • Chapter IV - Front Office 82
  • Chapter V - Men Who Play God 100
  • Chapter VI - Lesser Gods, but Colossal 111
  • Chapter VII - The Scribes 131
  • Chapter VIII - Assembling the Script 150
  • Chapter IX - The Answers 170
  • Chapter X - Directors 185
  • Chapter XI - Acting, in Hollywood 205
  • Chapter XII - Stars 228
  • Chapter XIII - Actors Are People 254
  • Chapter XIV - Emerging from Magic 281
  • Chapter XV - Hollywood and the U.S.A. 307
  • Index 333
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