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

By Hortense Powdermaker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Men Who Play God

THE PERSONALITIES of the men who sit in the front office are of interest as much as their customs, because their own natures influence the content of the movies and mold the human relations in the whole system of movie production. Also it is the executives (and producers) who have the greatest power to stamp the movies with their personal daydreams and fantasies. Then, too, the tendency of executives to see the movie audience in their own image results in a rather high correlation between the executives' personality and their opinions of the audience.

Apart from this situation, peculiar to movie making, a knowledge of the personalities of any men who wield power is always important, because power concentrated in the hands of one man or a few becomes personalized. An extreme example is the way the abnormal personality of Hitler helped to give Nazi Germany its particular character. Even in quite simple situations, where power is not highly concentrated, such as on a relatively democratic college campus, it is still personalized. The type of president who sits in the front office will influence the behavior and attitudes of both faculty and students. In Hollywood, too, the man who sits in the front office sets the tone of the whole studio, influencing and shaping attitudes and behavior of everyone in it; even more important, he leaves his stamp on the movie.

To understand these men it is necessary to know their backgrounds. Most of them have been with the industry since its beginning, and there are many folk tales about how they started.

The tale of Mr. Smart Guy, now dead, goes back to the early pioneer days of California when he and a partner sold soap to gold miners and pioneers. Mr. Smart Guy double-crossed his part

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