Exploring vintage-era hollywood

by Meagan Dill

There’s nothing quite like the ambience and charm of an old film. That the essence of an age gone by can be captured and then retrieved by film is one of the things that make it a truly remarkable art form. But while we enjoy watching these films, many of us don’t know much about the stories behind the stories...

The origins of the Hollywood sign

The Hollywood sign is one of the world’s most famous icons. For many this landmark signifies the glamour and excitement of the film industry in Los Angeles – but surprisingly enough, the origins of the sign have nothing to do with film. The sign was initially put up by an estate agent in 1923. Originally, the sign read “Hollywoodland” (later changed, of course, to just “Hollywood”) and was meant to serve as an advertisement for the area for the next 18 months. But as we all know, it still exists today – and this is thanks to the recognition it gained as the film industry in the area developed.

The first Academy Awards ceremony

Today, the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) are thought of as one of the most meaningful accolades to be bestowed on anyone in the film industry. Some of the most famous vintage-era films to receive the Oscar for Best Picture include Gone With The Wind (1940), Casablanca (1944) and My Fair Lady (1965). The ceremony itself has humble beginnings: a private brunch in 1929 with an audience of about 270 people. 83 awards shows later, the Oscars are usually held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood and are broadcast to around 40 million viewers.

The wonderful wizard of Oz

Judy Garland’s portrayal of Dorothy in the original Wizard of Oz movie (1939) has stood the test of time as a portrait of childlike innocence and strength of character. This is reflected in the famous ballad she sings in the movie – “Over The Rainbow”. But what many fans don’t realise is that this song was almost not used in the film. After an initial preview screening, the film studio’s chief executive Louis B. Mayer said that he felt that the song slowed the action of the film down and that the young children that the film was aimed at wouldn’t understand it. Luckily, there were other people involved in the film that felt strongly that the number should remain in it, and so eventually Mayer was convinced. Considering the song’s reputation today, the film certainly would have been worse off without it.

Frankly, my dear...

Gone with the Wind is an important film in the history of Hollywood for many reasons: it was one of the first major films to be shot in colour, and was also the longest film containing sound at the time of its release. However, what comes to the minds of most people when this film is mentioned is the famous line: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Rumour has it that the producer, David O. Selznick, was fined $5000 for using the word “damn” in the film. But here we debunk that myth: the Hollywood Production Code, which would have been the grounds for the fine, was amended in 1939 (the year of the film’s release) to state that such language could be used provided that it was “essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact of folklore”. This is certainly something that lovers of the film should be grateful for – alternatives considered for the line include, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot” and “Frankly, my dear, my indifference is boundless.” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

Seven ideas for a vintage-themed picnic

Citizen Kane: behind the legend