Earl Blackwell and Ted Strong founded a curious institution that they called "Celebrity Services, Inc." in 1938 - figuring, as they did, that
"Today America has more celebrities than it can keep track of and Celebrity Services aims, simply, to keep track of them."
"Celebrity Services' office is a busy hodge-podge of files, cross-files, indices, cards folders, stuffed pigeonholes, telephones, confidential memos address books, private dossiers and fat envelopes" - all pertaining to the lives of 50,000 celeb-utopians.
Screen scribe Sidney Carroll put to paper a serious column about the productive life of Samuel Goldwyn (1879 – 1974) and all that he had accomplished since he co-founded Hollywood (along with Cecil B. De Mille) in 1913:
"He has done many remarkable things in 30 years. He has made as many stars as any man in the business; he was the first to make feature-length films; he was the first to bring the great writers to Hollywood... Goldwyn is the greatest maker of motion pictures ever to come out of Hollywood [with the exception of The Goldwyn Follies (1938)].
Throughout film history there have been many men and women who have toiled in the Hollywood vineyards as art directors, but none have ever matched the level of high productivity as Cedric Gibbons (1893 – 1960). Indeed, he is remembered as the "dean" of art directors who stood head and shoulders above all others during Hollywood's Golden Age; between 1912 and 1956 there were hundreds movies that bore his thumbprint - winning Oscars for 39 of them (he was also one of the aesthetes who designed that award).
Illustrated by four photographs of his sets from the early Thirties, the attached article appeared mid-way through his career:
"At the Metro-Goldwyn studios in Culver City, just a few short miles from Hollywood, Mr. Gibbons rules supreme as art director. He is at the head of an intricately organized group of technical experts and artisans, numbering nearly two thousand individuals, and is responsible for the artistic investiture and pattern of some fifty or more feature films per annum."
Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction
"Two million Americans have as their principal form of visual entertainment nomad movies, run by some 3000 road-showmen who present their motion pictures in tents, auditoriums or churches. Few city folks realize that this is the way in which entertainment is brought to about 5000 U.S. towns of less than 1000 population... Road-showmen say that the favorite shows are fast-action westerns and occasional comedies. Mushy love scenes are box-office poison among their clientele. During harvest seasons, when customers can best afford the ten to twenty-five cents admission charge, these showmen take in between $75.00 and $150.00 a week."
These were not the only traveling entertainers during the Thirties: the Federal Theater Project also sent hoards of players throughout the nation to amuse and beguile - you can read about that here
Click here to read about Marilyn Monroe and watch a terrific documentary about her life.
Here is a film review from DIRECTION MAGAZINE that discussed many of the forthcoming movies of 1941 and how they so rarely depict American culture in an accurate light:
"In bringing back the usual revelations from a trip through the Middle West, I want to repeat the oft-declared amazement that American films... reflect the barest minimum of the American scene in these United States. The rare attempts of the "Grapes of Wrath" and "Primrose Path" to seek and show new dramatic settings, are the exceptions that prove the rule of formula."
Many of the American films of 1941 are listed herein and the article can be printed.