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The recent $3.4 billion purchase of Columbia Pictures by Sony Corporation focused attention on a studio that had survived one of Hollywood’s worst scandals under David Begelman, as well as ownership by Coca-Cola and David Puttnam’s misguided attempt to bring back the studio’s glory days. Columbia Pictures traces Columbia’s history from its beginnings as the CBC Film Sales Company (nicknamed “Corned Beef and Cabbage”) through the regimes of Harry Cohn and his successors, and concludes with a vivid portrait of today’s corporate Hollywood, with its investment bankers, entertainment lawyers, agents, and financiers.
Bernard F. Dick’s highly readable studio chronicle is followed by thirteen original essays by leading film scholars, writing about the stars, films, genres, writers, producers, and directors responsible for Columbia’s emergence from Poverty Row status to world class. This is the first attempt to integrate film history with film criticism of a single studio. Both the historical introduction and the essays draw on previously untapped archival material—budgets that kept Columbia in the black during the 1930s and 1940s, letters that reveal the rapport between Depression audiences and director Frank Capra, and an interview with Oscar-winning screenwriter Daniel Taradash.
The book also offers new perspectives on the careers of Rita Hayworth and Judy Holliday, a discussion of Columbia’s unique brands of screwball comedy and film noir, and analyses of such classics as The Awful Truth, Born Yesterday, From Here to Eternity, On the Waterfront, Anatomy of a Murder, Easy Rider, Taxi Driver, The Big Chill, Lawrence of Arabia, and The Last Emperor. Amply illustrated with film stills and photos of stars and studio heads, Columbia Pictures includes a brief chronology and a complete 1920-1991 filmography. Designed for both the film lover and the film scholar, the book is ideal for film history courses.
"For anyone seeking a frank, readable history of the movie business, this ‘Portrait of a Studio’ sheds light on one part of a frenzied, fractious industry."—New York Times Book Review
"An excellent reading experience for movie buffs and historians."—West Coast Review of Books
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Columbia Pictures, Motion picture history
Film and Media Studies
Dick, Bernard F., "Columbia Pictures: Portrait of a Studio" (1992). Film and Media Studies. 8.