Two books about Hollywood

Louis Menand reviews a couple of books about the movies in the New Yorker:

The cinema, like the novel, is always dying. The movies were killed by sequels; they were killed by conglomerates; they were killed by special effects. “Heaven’s Gate” was the end; “Star Wars” was the end; “Jaws” did it. It was the ratings system, profit participation, television, the blacklist, the collapse of the studio system, the Production Code. The movies should never have gone to color; they should never have gone to sound. The movies have been declared dead so many times that it is almost surprising that they were born, and, as every history of the cinema makes a point of noting, the first announcement of their demise practically coincided with the announcement of their birth. “The cinema is an invention without any commercial future,” said Louis Lumière, the man who opened the world’s first movie theatre, in Paris, in 1895. He thought that motion pictures were a novelty item, and, in 1900, after successfully exhibiting his company’s films around the world, he got out of the business. It seemed the prudent move.

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