The Modern Era

Since Hollywood’s birth, movies have continued to bring people together, and constantly captivate audiences everywhere. Movies today have achieved the most realistic effects ever seen, including the rise of 3D films, and films that are almost completely created out of computer generated images (CGI) such as James Cameron’s Avatar (2009).

Ticket prices, however, have been steadily increasing and many people choose to watch movies within the comfort of their own homes. Video hosting companies such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO offer platforms where movies can be viewed on personal computers or large flat screen televisions which somewhat replicate the big screens in movie theaters. However, blockbuster Hollywood remakes appear to be the current trend with modern cutting edge effects, massive audiences are still drawn out to the movie theaters every year.

With the years to come, who knows what direction Hollywood will take next. Many speculate that audiences will one day perhaps be inserted into films with the coming craze of virtual reality and such. On the other hand, highly paid actors still continue to appear in high budget franchise films such as the Marvel films, which are based on the highly popularized super hero comic books. One thing is for sure, no matter what direction Hollywood chooses to go, people will still line up for premieres, as there is nothing quite like a trip to the movies.

Film in the 1980’s

Hollywood movies of the 1980’s took the next logical step in evolution. Special effects, captivating storylines, and the rise of massive franchises made their way into theaters all across the world. “High Concept” films were typically the biggest hits, with plots that were relatively easy to understand and were able to be marketed to mass audiences. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas became famous names during this area, as their names were typically synonymous with blockbuster films that were released in the 1980s.

The top grossing films of the decade are titles that most people still recognize today, and many were apart of franchises. For example, the Indiana Jones and Star Wars trilogies (both George Lucas and Spielberg films.) As a result of these huge hits, movie studios often were stuck searching for the next big hit, and in doing so inserting highly paid actors, memorable soundtracks, and giving films massive budgets. Big movie studios of this era included: Time-Warner, Tri-Star, and Columbia.

New technologies introduced during this time were George Lucas’ THX sound systems which gave audiences a higher sound quality that had never before been achieved. Additionally, Lucas’ founded a special effects studio; Industrial Light and Magic, which created some of the most intricate puppets and special effects to date.





1960’s Film

The 1960’s were a turbulent time for change in American History, and this was reflected in the films created during that period. Films of this era utilized more advanced special effects, more riveting story lines, and took more risks than other previous eras. Films that were more centered around violence took place, especially since now there were resources available to make movies appear more realistic.

Directors like Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polenski, and David Lean created more experimental films; in 1962, David Lean introduced Lawrence of Arabia, a lengthier film than most movies of that day and age. However, the gripping story and dymanic characters made this movie an all time classic.Stanley Kubrick, however created many controversial films about various topics. For instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Spartacus. 

When it came to horror movies, films of this time period ventured deeper into characters and the mind of the viewers. Horror movies focused on psychological fears instead of surface level monster movie slashers. Adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe’s horror poems and Mario Bava’s foreign horror movies captured the imagination of American audiences.

Films during this time period captured the imagination and inspired many directors today.


The Golden Age of Film

The 1920’s was an exciting decade for Hollywood. In 1927, the first film to contain synchronized sound was The Jazz Singer. Warner Brothers film studio invented the vitaphone process which allowed films to have sounds, which made title cards used in the Silent Era irrelevant. Viewers had been waiting for films to contain sounds, which allowed for a more realistic and involved viewing experience.

Soon after, came the era known as “The Golden Age” of Hollywood. This era lasted from the late 1920’s all the up to the mid 1960’s. Many great films were created and shot, and there were a great deal of innovations made in the industry. Directors such as Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Billy Wilder created some of their finest works during this time. Actors and actresses who are now household names rose to fame during this time. Marilyn Monroe, Paul Neumann, Audrey Hepburn, and James Dean are just a few to name.

Films around this time are known for their compelling story lines, complex soundtracks, and dynamic characters. Classic titles include All Quiet On The Western Front, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonderful Life, and North by Northwest.

Additionally, the rise of large production companies also took place in this era. 20th Century Fox, MGM, and Paramount were among the largest companies in the industry. They would spend massive amounts of money on sets, land, and whatever they thought would make a remarkable picture. There were also censorship laws that came about during this time, mandating what was and wasn’t appropriate for films.

Silent Film



Silent films laid the foundation for what we consider today to be modern film. The era lasted from the late 1800s to the mid 1930s. The first film ever created was done by Eadward Muybridge in 1878, which was simply a horse in motion. The film’s total run time was about sixteen seconds. It may not seem like much, but to many this was close to pure magic.

After being inspired by Muybridge’s primitive movie camera, Thomas Edison developed the kinetoscope, which could film longer and more clear film images. Edison was actually one of the first real film producers and created his own small studio. As is obvious, many silent films did not contain any sound whatsoever. However, many films came with live music that was to be played along with the film. Most early productions were featured at fairs and other large crowd drawing attractions, but as the movie industry began to grow small movie theaters began being constructed. Nickelodeons were very small theaters that only charged some five cents to attend a showing.

The first figure that typically comes to mind in the silent film era is Charlie Chaplin, who is very well known for his roles as the “Tramp” which is the mischievous character with the small mustache and top hat. Chaplin directed and starred in thirty five films, and founded a movie studio that still has theaters around the United States today, called United Artists Distribution.

There were many silent films that produced large sums of profit, the most profitable films being The Birth of a Nation ,The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Phantom of The Opera. All of which are still considered classics and can still be found in some homes throughout the United States.





  1. Dirks, Tim. “Film History of the 1920s, Part 1”. AMC.
  2. Lewis, John (2008). American Film: A History (First ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
  3. Altman, Rick (2004). Silent Film Sound. New York: Columbia University Press.