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From Double Indemnity to The Godfather, the stories behind some of the greatest films ever made pale beside the story of the studio that made them. In the golden age of Hollywood, Paramount was one of the Big Five studios. Gulf + Western’s 1966 takeover of the studio signaled the end of one era and heralded the arrival of a new way of doing business in Hollywood. Bernard Dick reconstructs the battle that culminated in the reduction of the studio to a mere corporate commodity. He then traces Paramount’s devolution from free-standing studio to subsidiary—first of Gulf + Western, then Paramount Communications, and currently Viacom-CBS.
Dick portrays the new Paramount as a paradigm of today’s Hollywood, where the only real art is the art of the deal. Former merchandising executives find themselves in charge of production, on the assumption that anyone who can sell a movie can make one. CEOs exit in disgrace from one studio only to emerge in triumph at another. Corporate raiders vie for power and control through the buying and selling of film libraries, studio property, television stations, book publishers, and more. The history of Paramount is filled with larger-than-life people, including Billy Wilder, Adolph Zukor, Sumner Redstone, Sherry Lansing, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and more.
"Through the richness in cases, examples and anecdotes it gives a practical, nuts-and-bolts insight into the workings of the film business."—Business History
"Does a fine job of detailing the death of a studio and its reincarnation as a subsidiary of a conglom. Dick’s forensics peel back history, revealing the passions, politics and power plays of filmmakers and dealmakers that culminated in the dissolution of a Hollywood empire."—Daily Variety
"An important book not only about the history of a studio, but also about the apparently ineluctable direction big business has taken in American society."—Donald Spoto
"A breezy and informative six-reeler about the ‘engulfing’ of the once proud studio by a mega-conglomerate to which film art was merely another commodity."—EH.NET Reviews
"Provides a helpful scaffolding of Paramount’s fascinating history thus far and suggests that business historians would do well to engage the film industry further in their explorations of twentieth-century business and economic life."—Enterprise and Society
"Clever, thought-provoking…Dick has the ability to explain the complex in-fighting among studio executives in the corridors of power in a movie studio—and their even more complex negotiations with the conglomerates who own the studios—in a way that is clear and incisive."—Gene D. Phillips
"The stories behind some of the greatest films ever made pale beside the story of the studio that made them."—Hollywood Inside Syndicate
"Provides historical insight into the death of Paramount Pictures as an autonomous studio and its fall to the conglomerate Gulf + Western in 1966."—Journal of Economic History
"Uses Paramount Pictures to illustrate the evolution of the motion-picture industry from Thomas Edison to Michael Eisner. . . . Always erudite and entertaining."—Kirkus Reviews
"This thoroughly researched story reveals the shift in the industry’s primary focus from making fine film to making a successful, multifaceted business deal and prompts debate over which one is considered to be real art in modern Hollywood."—Library Journal
"Everybody knows that Paramount was one of the major studios, but few know the twists and turns of the history of the studio over the years."—Peter C. Rollins
"Traces Paramount’s lineage from its 1912 origins to its 1966 purchase by Gulf & Western and its present ownership by Viacom/CBS."—Publishers Weekly
"Astutely analyzes the role of outside corporate money in the film industry, and how the changes at Paramount heralded a new, inevitable trend in American film and arts. . . . Dick’s in-depth analysis and research makes for great—and shocking—journalism."—Publishers Weekly
"Dick lends the personalities and events so much emotional colour that his book is as compulsively readable as a biography."—Sight and Sound
"Dick has composed an authoritative account of Paramount Pictures Corporation and accomplished the not inconsiderable feat of making it read less like business and more like history."—Washington Times
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Paramount Pictures, Film history, Movie history, Hollywood
Film and Media Studies
Dick, Bernard F., "Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood" (2001). Film and Media Studies. Book 16.