Universal Studios Essay Research Paper The story

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Universal Studios Essay, Research Paper The story of Universal studios begins with Carl Laemmle, who immigrated to America from his native Germany in 1884 at age 17. He traveled around the country, taking various jobs, until he opened his first nickelodeon in Chicago in 1906. A second operation quickly followed, and the following year he started the Laemmle Film Exchange, which he soon developed into one of the major film distributors in the country. In 1909 he began producing films with his Independent Motion Picture Company of America, or Imp, starting with Hiawatha. He soon lured away two important actresses from Biograph, Florence Lawrence and Mary Pickford, and starred them in Imp releases; Thomas H. Ince began directing Pickford in such 1911 Imp one-reelers as A Manly

Man and Her Darkest Hour. Both Ince and Pickford left Imp in 1912, not long before Laemmle merged it with other smaller companies to form the Universal Film Manufacturing Company. Their pioneering 1913 feature Traffic In Souls, an expos? of white slavery, proved a huge hit. That same year, Allan Dwan was directing one- and two-reel actioners starring writer/actor Wallace Reid, such as The Spirit Of The Flag and Women And War. Laemmle also continued to raid talent from other studios: Universal's short comedies soon included such popular players as Augustus Carney (formerly of Essanay) and Ford Sterling (formerly of Keystone). Laemmle opened his 230-acre studio Universal City in 1915, the first incorporated city to consist solely of a film studio. Production took a leap forward,

and by the mid teens, Universal had a hit series with the comedy shorts of Lyons & Moran. John — then "Jack" — Ford began to write, direct, and star in Westerns in 1917, with the two-reelers The Tornado and The Scrapper; Harry Carey soon took over as Ford's star in such popular five-reelers as Straight Shooting and A Marked Man. Character actor Lon Chaney, who'd been playing heavies at Universal since his short actioners and melodramas of the early teens, became a star by 1919 in such features as The Wicked Darling, directed by Tod Browning, and The Miracle Man, directed by George Loane Tucker. That same year, Laemmle let actor Erich von Stroheim write and direct his first film; Blind Husbands, a provocative drama of American innocence tested by European

decadence, was a hit, critically and at the box-office.By the end of the teens, Laemmle had two key assistants, Harry Cohn and Irving Thalberg. In 1920 Cohn left to form what would become Columbia Pictures, and Laemmle made the 20-year-old Thalberg head of production at Universal. Von Stroheim had stayed behind the camera for his The Devil's Pass Key (1920), which had also done well, and Laemmle backed him on Foolish Wives (1922). But this lengthy, lavish, and spectacularly expensive melodrama — it wound up costing close to a million dollars — fared poorly at the box-office. Thalberg had feuded with von Stroheim throughout its production, and simply removed him from Merry-Go-Round (1923) before its budget could spin out of control. Thalberg also oversaw the opulent production

of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923), starring Lon Chaney, but could not persuade Laemmle that the studio's future lay in such big-budget productions, or in buying up theaters to show their films. He left Universal in 1923, and Laemmle continued with the same low-budget, five-reel programmers which had been Universal's bread and butter. Chaney made one more film for the studio, his horror classic The Phantom Of The Opera (1925). Laemmle's son, the 21-year-old Carl Jr., became Universal's head of production in 1928. To finance a changeover to talkies, he sold off what theaters Universal had bought in the '20s and reduced the studio's output of shorts and programmers. He then personally supervised two A-productions that were big commercial and critical hits for Universal: the