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The "A List" through the years?


Guest Aaron

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Guest Aaron

Today's A List male leads, the so-called $20M-$25M+ crowd, is a short list that the last time I checked included Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, and Tom Cruise. Going back to the Golden Era, who would have been on the short list in the 30s, 40s, and 50s? I guess the studio days are harder to evaluate when, up until the 1950s, salaries of stars, even if their presence guaranteed box office success, probably wasn't as varied as they are now. Yet, some must have been more equal than others. I think if there's a source on this, the results could be surprising. Some stars have weathered the test of time much better than others (It's A Wonderful Life was a box office failure, now look at it...)--perhaps a Henry Fonda or Jimmy Stewart weren't the draws in the 1940s that Tyrone Powers or Robert Taylor were? I dunno. Anyone want to weigh in with an opinion or actually have something on this? Aaron

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Guest mongo

This appears to be a subject hard to figure out. I got a copy of the book The Hollywood Reporter Box Office Hits which list most successful movies. Needless to say I was surprised at some of the top five films listed throughout the years. For instance in 1941 the top grossers were "Sergeant York", "Dive Bomber" with Errol Flynn, "**** Tonk" with Gable and Turner, "The Philadelphia Story" and "A Yank in the R.A.F" with Power and Grable. Yet "classics" such as "Citizen Kane", "How Green Was My Valley" and "The Maltese Falcon" were far behind. The top grossers in 1947 were even more surprising "Welcome Stranger" with Bing Crosby, "The Egg and I", DeMille's "Unconquered", "Life With Father" and "Forever Amber" while such noted films as "Gentleman's Agreement", "Miracle on 34th Street" and "The Bishop's Wife" didn't finish. Perhaps starpower like Colbert, Flynn, Grable, Crosby, Cooper, Turner, Grant actually brought the crowds to the theaters. Greer Garson was a big money attraction for MGM with many of her films breaking records at Radio City Music Hall. Ironically many of Walt Disney's movies (Dumbo, Song of the South, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Peter Pan etc.) grossed more than some so called classics at the time of their release. Of course polls were taken in the 1930's, '40's and '50's to determine the most popular stars of which Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy etc appeared. As long as the money was rolling in the major studios were satisfied. And of course these stars also benefited with great wealth.

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Guest son, jery

I'm always amazed to see the number of females back in the 20s, 30s and 40s who were bigger box office stars than men. Today, we have one: Julia Roberts. But back then, you had Mary Pickford, Mae Murray, Clara Bow, Coleen Moore, Mae West, Shirley Temple, Constance Bennett, Deanna Durbin, Bette Davis, Betty Grable, etc.

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Guest Goebel, Angela

You need to understand something, back in the 20s-50s the studios came out with monumentous amounts of picures. So lots of film=lots of actors and actresses. When the government said that studios could no longer distribute their own films, it was harder to find theatres for all the films being made. Before this, if they made a bad film,it had a guaranteed theatre(s) to be shown and sold in. This law( i'm not sure the name of it)hurt the studios hard. They could no longer afford to be dream factories like MGM.

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Guest Aaron

Good point. That makes a lot of sense. Still, one would think that when Harry Cohen, or L.B. Mayer, or Jack Warner looked over their books, they found a pattern to support the notion that an actor's presence guaranteed or nearly guaranteed success.

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  • 18 years later...
On 5/3/2002 at 1:04 PM, Guest Goebel, Angela said:

You need to understand something, back in the 20s-50s the studios came out with monumentous amounts of picures. So lots of film=lots of actors and actresses. When the government said that studios could no longer distribute their own films, it was harder to find theatres for all the films being made. Before this, if they made a bad film,it had a guaranteed theatre(s) to be shown and sold in. This law( i'm not sure the name of it)hurt the studios hard. They could no longer afford to be dream factories like MGM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...It is funny what you see coming up!!!!!!!!!!! Was there any discussion here of, last year, the Justice Department announcing that they would no longer enforce the Paramount Consent Degree, the 1948 agreement between Justice and the (then-) right major studios (now three) that stopped them from block booking and made owning theaters difficult?

  THAT'S a big chunk of expositional dialogue above...but it got it across!!!!!!!!!

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