Two things in particular impressed unity on twentieth-century America: the automobile and motion pictures. Although invented elsewhere (thus supplying another pair of reasons for French resentment of the US), their development into mass-produced vehicles of transport and entertainment was a function of Motown and Hollywood. As the movies lent celluloid wings to public fancy, the Canadian-born Mary Pickford became “America’s sweetheart”; at much the same time, Henry Ford’s Model-T gave ordinary Americans their ticket to ride when and where they wanted. In both Detroit and Los Angeles, the production line ruled. Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) would make cinematic fun of the piecemeal routine of industrial manufacture, but composite assembly was as much a feature of the seventh art as of any other manufacture. Although Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks might put a personal mark on a movie, many talents and many hands were needed for its processing and marketing. When the theatre’s personnel was translated to California, what early twentieth-century Broadway had called “The Show Business” (the definite article was later dropped) mutated into “The Industry”.

more from the TLS here.