About the “Golden Age of Hollywood”

The period of 1927-1963 in American film history is often referred to as the “Golden Age of Hollywood” due to its identifiable “Classical Hollywood” cinematic form.

The Golden Age began at the end of the silent era when The Jazz Singer was released in 1927. When sound was added to feature films, box-office profits soared.

MGM logoThroughout the early 1930s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer dominated the industry with the top stars in Hollywood. MGM was credited for creating the Hollywood star system altogether. MGM’s contracted stars, and those on loan to MGM from other studios, included:
Joan Fontaine, Norma Shearer, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Gary Cooper, Mary Pickford, Carmen Miranda, Henry Fonda, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, James Stewart, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Vivien Leigh, Grace Kelly, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, John Wayne, Mickey Rooney, Barbara Stanwyck, John Barrymore, Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Kirk Douglas, Anna May Wong, and Buster Keaton.

Rita HayworthGregory PeckDuring this era came another great achievement of American cinema – Walt Disney. In 1937, Disney created the most successful film of its time, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Film historians have remarked upon the many great works of cinema that emerged from this period of highly regimented film-making. One reason this was possible is that, with so many films being made, not every one had to be a big hit. A studio could gamble on a medium-budget feature with a good script and relatively unknown actors. Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles and regarded by some as the greatest film of all time, fits that description. In other cases, strong-willed directors like Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, and Frank Capra battled the studios in order to achieve their artistic visions. The apogee of the studio system may have been the year 1939, which saw the release of such classics as The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Destry Rides Again, Young Mr. Lincoln, Wuthering Heights, Only Angels Have Wings, Ninotchka, Beau Geste, Babes in Arms, Gunga Din, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and The Roaring Twenties.

Among other films from the Golden Age that are now considered classics: Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, It’s a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, King Kong, Citizen Kane, Top Hat, Swing Time, Some Like It Hot, The Westerner, A Night at the Opera, Sergeant York, The Thief of Bagdad, Jungle Book, Desire, All About Eve, Mildred Pierce, The Maltese Falcon, The Searchers, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Laura, North by Northwest, Man of the West, Dinner at Eight, Morocco, Rebel Without a Cause, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Rear Window, Double Indemnity, Ball of Fire, Mutiny on the Bounty, City Lights, Red River, Suspicion, High Noon, The Manchurian Candidate, The Hanging Tree, Bringing Up Baby, Meet John Doe, Singin’ in the Rain, The Pride of the Yankees, Ben-Hur, Ivanhoe, The Vikings, To Have and Have Not, Roman Holiday, Giant, Jezebel, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden, From Here To Eternity, and On the Waterfront.