Announcement: The Classic Movie History Project 2016

LUCKY ME!  For the third consecutive year I get to take part in a special blogging event and with two of my favorite bloggers.  Fritzi of Movies, Silently and Ruth of Silver Screenings have asked me to join them as co-host of The Classic Movie History Project 2016.  Here’s hoping some of their class rubs off!

The first time we tackled this project we divided the history of film into individual years with each blogger claiming one year to cover.  Last year we zoned in on eras of film – the Silent Era, the Golden Age and Swinging into Modern Times – which generated lots of buzz and resulted in a terrific array of entries.  What we’ve come up with this year is even more exciting!

The Classic Movie History Project Blogathon (2016)

The Classic Movie History Project 2016 will run for six days, from August 5 through August 10, with two topics available for discussion each day.  Each host will oversee four topics with each topic adhering to the same overarching theme – Fritzi’s topics are all related to “The System,” Ruth’s are related to “The Movies” and mine are related to “The People.”  After a bit of necessary business you’ll get to the meat of this post, the list that includes the host and blog, the day, the topics and a brief introduction to each in case you have questions as to what we mean.  I’ve no doubt you will find one or more irresistible so write to your heart’s desire!  But first…

If you’re interested in submitting an entry to the blogathon, here are some guidelines, rules, regulations, must-dos, please-dos and other tidbits…

  • Posts can cover people and topics from the dawn of cinema until 1975.
  • This is an international event, posts on both Hollywood and foreign cinema are most welcome.
  • We accept no duplicates. No aceptamos duplicados.  Nous acceptons pas de doublons.  Wir akzeptieren keine Duplikate.
  • We’d be forever grateful if you’d leave your comments and or chosen topic and the category it belongs in on the corresponding host blog.  And link to that blog in your post to keep thing orderly.  We’ll see how that goes!  FYI – the category and topic you choose determine the date to post by.
  • Feel free to be imaginative – pictorials, videos, podcasts and other multimedia items are A-OK with us.
  • To join us in this historical endeavor simply contact any one of your friendly hosts and we will add you to the roster.  Please be sure to include the address of your blog, the section and topic you have chosen and the title or general nature of your topic.
  • You’ll notice a fabulous event banner designed by Fritzi as the featured image (above) and an array at the end of this post.  Please include any one of them on your blog and in your submission to help us promote the event.

Dates, Hosts, Topics & Participants


August 5 – Hosted by Fritzi at Movies, Silently

The Studios

MGM musicals. Warner gangsters. Toho monsters. The studios of the classic film era were responsible for artistic triumphs, trash and tragedy. The Studios is all about the house style of longstanding and respected industry players like Fox, Warner Brothers and MGM. It also covers foreign powerhouses like Gaumont, Ufa and Mosfilm. Poverty row and independent producers will get their day in the sun as well with coverage of Selznick, Goldwyn and the cowboys of Gower Gulch.

Movies Silently – Albatros Studios

Silver Screenings – Why the Studio System Worked In Spite of Itself

Once Upon a Screen – Censorship Before The Code

Caftan Woman – Hal Roach’s Lot of Fun

Big V Riot Squad – Theaters of the 1910s

Old Hollywood Films – The Star Machine


The Publicity Department

Hoopla, hullabaloo and just a touch of carnival barker: that was the winning formula for film publicity. We’ll be covering posters, trailers, tie-ins and soundtracks, as well as publicity stunts, staged scandals and the anything-goes attitude of film advertising. From the tasteful posters of the classic era to the mad stunts of William Castle, The Publicity Department is all about getting rear ends into theater seats.

Cinema Crossroads – Hitchcock’s Marketing of Psycho (1960)



August 6 – Hosted by Ruth at Silver Screenings

The Production Code

The Production Code put an end to explicit naughtiness in movies, but filmmakers continually tried to find ways to work around it. The Production Code will look at the main architects of – and detractors from – the Code. We’ll look at the goals of the Code, notable exemptions, and how it changed the films themselves.

Silver Screenings – A Half-baked Defense of the Code

Cinema Gadfly – Design for Living (1933)

Shadows and Satin – Pre-Code Scandals


The Magic of Animation

They say the Golden Age of Animation was 1928 to the early 1960s, but animation has been around since the early 1900s. The Magic of Animation will explore different types of film animation, such as traditional 2D, stop-motion, mechanical, puppetry, claymation, etc. We’ll also pay tribute to animation pioneers.

Movies Silently – Review of The Original Movie (1922)

Noirish – The Fleischers

Define Dancing – Disney from Silent Era to Snow White

F for Films – Animation of Winsor McCay

Christina Wehner – Willis O’Brien and Stop Motion Animation

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Mary Blair, Disney Concept Artist

Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog – Charley Bowers, Stop-Motion Animator

Love Letters to Old Hollywood – Karel Zeman



August 7 – Hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen


“The openers” is how John Steinbeck referred to them in “East of Eden.”  These people who ventured forth into uncharted territory were often naïve, learned hard lessons, made mistakes and persevered.  In doing so they permanently changed our culture by changing movie history and this topic is for them.  With trailblazing energy they set standards that stand to this day.  The groundbreakers – not with shovel or cement in hand, but with a camera, with a microphone, with gestures and words they paved the way and we want to know how they did it.

Movies Silently – The Big Swallow (1921)

Cinematic Scribblings – French New Wave topic

Cinematic Catharsis – Nanook of the North: Influence on Documentaries

Cinema Cities – Olivia de Havilland and the de Havilland Law

Cary Grant Won’t Eat You – Mae West’s Entrance Into Film

Girls Do Film – Frances Marion

Realweegiemidget Movie Reviews – One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest

Once Upon a Screen – Dottie Ponedel

Silent-ology – Forgotten Comedians of the Silent Era

Sister Celluloid – Auntie Joan (Crawford) Explains It All For You


Before They Were Stars

W.C. Fields made his Broadway debut in an aptly titled musical comedy, “The Ham Tree.”  Norma Shearer won a beauty contest at the age of fourteen.  Buster Keaton nearly suffocated at a few months old after being accidentally shut in a costume trunk off stage while his mother and father performed.  You get the picture.  We want to know the highs, the lows and the in-betweens of those whose faces would someday adorn the silver screen.

Movies Silently – Looking for William Boyd: A Paramount Pictorial

An Ode to Dust – Lon Chaney

Midnite Drive-In – John Wayne



August 8 – Hosted by Fritzi at Movies, Silently

The Technical Department

Directors and stars get all the attention but what about the brilliant craftspeople who made the movies possible? We’re going to be giving these hardworking editors, special effects wizards, sound engineers, production designers and makeup artists their day in the sun, examining the craft that made classic films so gorgeous.

Movies Silently – Ballroom Scene in Michael Strogoff

The Last Drive-In – Jerry Goldsmith

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – It’s Snowing! Making Celluloid Winter Wonderlands


The Wardrobe Department

That Hollywood look! Or is it Berlin? In any case, movies have always showcased virtuoso fashion design and the stars have always tried to look their very best for their fans. The Costume Department is all about virtuoso fashion design onscreen and off and we’ll be discussing the very best in costuming and red carpet fashion.

Cinema Cities – Partnership between Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn

Meredy’s Place – Jean Louis



August 9 – Hosted by Ruth at Silver Screenings

Movie Disasters

Sometimes making movies is difficult, whether it’s the bickering between the director and lead actor, or the harsh conditions while filming on location. Then there are the box-office bombs that keep studio executives awake at night. Movie Disasters is a no-holds-barred look at Hollywood, uh, “missteps”.

Little Bits of Classics – Difficulties in Shooting Chaplin’s The Circus

Moon in Gemini – The Magnificent Ambersons

Century Film Project – Intolerance: Fact & Fiction

Midnite Drive-In – The Conqueror

Cinema Crossroads – To Be or Not To Be (1942)


The Wonderful World of Color

Color has been used in film for well over 100 years. The Wonderful World of Color celebrates color innovators, along with larger-than-life color films. We’ll also examine different color techniques, such as tinting, hand-coloring, two and three-color film processes, and glorious Technicolor.

Back to Golden Days – Trail of Lonesome Pine and 3-Strip Technicolor

Movies Silently – Review of The Black Pirate (1926)

The Last Drive-In – 50’s Sci-Fi

Realweegiemidget Movie Reviews – The Sound of Music

Lonely Critic – Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard


August 10 – Hosted by Aurora at Once Upon A Screen

The Family Business

Some of the most interesting stories in Hollywood through the decades have been born of family strife and pressures mixed with the art and business of motion pictures.  Some acting families have made a brief appearance in the movies and are forgotten while others like The Barrymores remain popular – whether by truth or legend – generation after generation.  Acting “dynasties” are connected to controversy, have won major awards, starred in countless films and directed eternal classics.  They’ve also owned major Hollywood studios and passed them down to the next generation and by doing so irrevocably changed the course of history.   The Laemmles, The Hustons, The Fondas.  Spotlighted here are Hollywood family dynamics. – The Young Acting Family (Loretta, Polly Ann, Georgie Belzer, and Sally Blane)

Prince of Hollywood – The Fairbanks

Silents and Talkies – The Mills Family ((John, Juliet and Hayley)

Classic Film Observations & Obsessions – The Carey Family (Harry Carey Sr., Jr., and Olive)


A Foreign Affair

Hollywood would not have been Hollywood without the talent of foreigners who came to call her their own.  From countries the world over foreign talents added a distinct and unforgettable flavor to countless classic movies.  The “Such much?” exchange in Curtiz’s Casablanca comes to mind instantly, but that’s just one example and these extraordinary people were legion.  The choice is yours and we can’t wait to see who you want to focus on!  By the way – if you prefer to write about American stars abroad that’s great too!

B Noir Detour – Fritz Lang

Critica Retro – Alberto Cavalcanti: Brazilian by birth, citizen of the world through the movies

Mildred’s Fatburgers – Hugo Haas and his B-Movie Mantrap oeuvre

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies – Simone Simon

A Small Press Life – Ossi Oswalda German silents I Don’t Want to Be Man & The Doll

Bubblegum Aesthetics – The Bicycle Thief, Changing History



There you have it.  If you have questions ASK and they shall be answered.  We hope you’re as excited to join us as we are to see what you choose to write about.  Also, follow and use #MovieHistoryProject during the blogathon to see if we can get a conversation going.

Happy blogging!


Happy banners!

Before they Were Stars



106 thoughts

  1. This is exciting! Could I take the French New Wave for the Groundbreakers category? If that’s too broad, I’ll try to narrow it down. Thanks!

      1. No problem. It is a bit broad. Perhaps ingredients of the New Wave, the most influential films or directors? Don’t want to influence your topic though. Just food for thought. I added you to the list anyway and will update it if/when you let me know of a narrower topic. Hope that’s OK. I love that the New Wave is being represented.

        1. Thank you! Yes, I’m trying to decide on an angle or focus of some sort, but that’s the general topic. I’ll let you know as soon as I figure something out.

        2. I’ve (finally) decided to write about François Truffaut’s 1957 short Les Mistons, which is a kind of template for his later work. If I’m feeling ambitious, I might do a second post (on Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Petit Soldat), but it depends how busy I get. Thanks!

        3. I’m not sure if you got my previous comment, but I’ve decided to do a post on François Truffaut’s Les Mistons and a second post on Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Petit Soldat. If it’s okay, I think I’ll keep the first post in the Groundbreakers category, because I’ll be including some background information on the New Wave in general, and I’ll put the second in the Foreign Affair category, which will give me a few extra days to work on it. Thanks!

          1. I didn’t see that comment, but this is fantastic! Thanks for joining us and I can’t wait to read your posts!

  2. Fantastic idea! I’d love to tackle something for animation, namely Disney in the silent era + his Alice comedies, Oswald, Mickey, and then Walt branching out into feature length films with Snow White in 1937. My blog is Define Dancing:

    1. Can you send me the name of your blog? I’m noting “Simoa Writes,” but there’s no link so I’m not sure that’s correct. 🙂

      1. Hey Aurora, sorry about that. My blog title is Define Dancing, and the URL is The other topic i’d like to write about is Setsuko Hara for the foreign category. 🙂

        1. Either works. If you’ll focus more on his upbringing then “Before was a star” fits. He was so great we can list him anywhere. 🙂

  3. I’d like to write about Olivia de Havilland for the Groundbreakers category, wherein I discuss how the “de Havilland Law” came to be and its impact on the studios. I’d also be discussing her career in the ’40s leading up to the court case.

  4. I’m not sure I’d know what to do with the Before They Were Stars. I’ve only read two biographies in my entire life, one of which was Scott Eyman’s recent opus on the life of John Wayne. (The other, for completion’s sake, was a bio of Jim Morrison of The Doors). However, if my entry to the Movie Disasters part of the blogathon gets accepted (I chose John Wayne’s “The Conqueror”) I’ll go ahead and try to double up and do one on Wayne before he was a star (which by definition, from my perspective would be anything before “Stagecoach”, even though he had been in several movies up until then.)

  5. Hi Aurora! I’d like to write about Hitchcock’s groundbreaking marketing of Psycho (1960) for the Publicity Department category and To Be or Not to Be (1942) for the Movie Disasters category.

  6. Hi, Aurora! Would you mind terribly if I changed my topic?

    I was thinking today about how much I love the book The Magnificent Ambersons, and then remembered that the Welles movies was a famous flop, supposedly because the studio recut the film.

    Could I swap out the Duck Soup topic for this? I’m actually not that big a Marx Bros. fan (I was just surprised it was a famous box office flop). I think I would find this a more interesting subject to write about.

    1. I’m so sorry to be a bother but my blog name is Silents and Talkies, not Slightly Terrific (I understand the confusion though since that’s the username I use to leave comments on WordPress!) Thanks again for letting me participate! 🙂

  7. I noticed The Wardrobe Department doesn’t have any bloggers signed up yet, so I’d like to give that topic some love by writing about the partnership between Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn. 🙂

  8. Hi, Aurora!
    This sounds so great, and I can’t wait to read the posts already noted/planned above (and the others yet to come)! Thanks to you and Fritzi and Ruth for organizing it!

    I’d like to participate, and have an idea I wanted to run by you. I’ve been thinking lately about that story of David Selznick offering to fund THE BICYCLE THIEF if De Sica cast Cary Grant, and gave it a happy ending. It’s a funny story (later parodied in THE PLAYER), but there’s part of me that wants to tease it out as the start of an alternate “film history”: What if Grant had been cast? How would the movie–and the subsequent careers of its director, producer and star–have played out? How might the landscapes of several different kinds of movie-making have changed?

    In playing with and tracing this invented history, I’d like to weave in real events, movies, figures, etc., into these imagined spaces, as a way of thinking about actual history against the dreams and imaginative extensions we build out of them. I’m not sure I’m making sense as I sketch this off my head (:, but it would be this experimental piece, clearly marked at the top as quasi-fictional (to prevent any confusion), but one which would also let me look at real film history in a different way.

    Does this sound like something y’all would want? And if so, on which days/which category do you think it would fit best? Thanks!

    1. I absolutely live that idea, Brian so it’s definitely a YES! Let me think about where it would fit best and get back to you. Wowza! That’s thrilling!

    1. Hi Bryan – I didn’t forget about you, but apologize for not listing your entry sooner. I’m going to list your entry under the “Foreign” category and (for now) note is THE BICYCLE THIEF, Changing History. How does that sound?

  9. Hi there! I’m a bit late to the party, but I’d like to join and contribute an article in the “Groundbreakers” category on August 7. My subject will be forgotten comedians of the silent era, covering a few of the many names aside from the familiar Chaplin, Keaton, etc. 🙂

  10. Hi Aurora!

    Unfortunately, I won’t be able to write about Setsuko Hara for the foreign category. So I’ll just be contributing one post for the blogathon.

  11. I’ve been biding my time in choosing a topic, and I finally got it. I’d love to do an overview of Karel Zeman, a Czech animator that I’ve just discovered. My blog is

    1. Wonderful!! I am traveling through Thursday with limited internet access so I win’t be able to add you to the list until Friday, but I’m thrilled you’re joining us!! 🙂

  12. Hi Aurora, just wanted to let you know I am doing the post on Mary Blair under “Animation.” I noticed my blog name “Phyllis Loves Classic Movies” is missing.

    Looking forward to all the awesome entries!
    ~ Phyl

  13. Hi Aurora! Just to let you know I’m planning to write about the Carey family (Harry Carey Sr., Jr., and Olive) in the ‘Family’ topic. Thanks!

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