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

By Hortense Powdermaker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
Lesser Gods, but Colossal

NEXT TO THE FRONT-OFFICE bosses at the studios are the producers, one of the very important controls in Hollywood. The contrast between the producer's power and role with his ability is rather marked in most cases.

The producer usually selects the kind of story he wants to film. He may suggest to the front office the purchase of a certain book or play (called a property) in which he is interested, or offer his own idea to be worked out by a writer. Or, he may follow a formula currently successful at the box office. Or, the picture may be assigned to him by the front office. However the story is initiated, the producer then controls in greatest detail the writing of the script. He works closely with the writer, reading what he writes, and continuously criticizing, suggesting and commanding during the entire process. It is the producer who decides if and when other writers should be brought in, and the producer's O.K. is necessary before the picture passes to the front office for final approval.

The producer's power is not limited to control of the writer and the contents of the script. He has authority over the casting, and his judgment in cutting, one of the most important aspects of movie making, supersedes that of the director. It is the producer's O.K. which is necessary for the work of the composer, scene designer and everyone else connected with the production of the movie.

Producers have been compared to foremen, since they tie together and supervise the diverse ends of production. But the foremen in most factories have technical knowledge and understanding of the processes which they supervise, and they never control the engineers and designers. Most producers know nothing or very little

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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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