The Golden Age of Hollywood - 92Y, New York

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The Golden Age of Hollywood

David Fantle
This program is taking place remotely. If you have signed up, you will receive an email with details of how to access the program.
After the event, you will have exclusive access to view the program again at any time.
This program is taking place remotely. If you have signed up, you will receive an email with details of how to access the program. If we are able to offer an in-person version of this class in the coming months, we will contact you and make both options available to you.

Remember when stars were bigger than life? When names like Astaire, Kelly, Ball, Hope, Cagney, and Peck virtually assured the best in entertainment excellence?

This series of lectures will focus on the Golden Age of Hollywood and the heyday of the studio system, from about 1920-1960. In each session participants will re-examine the brilliance and work of dozens of artists associated with this period in screen history and explore a different segment of this era with photos, stories, and film clips.

Lecture #1: Hollywood Heyday: An Introduction into the Golden Age

The pioneers that became dream merchants—Louis B. Mayer, Jack Warner, Harry Cohn, Carl Laemmle, Adolph Zucker—peddled the American dream to millions of weekly moviegoers. It started in silence with the Little Tramp, Charlie Chaplin as the industry’s first major superstar. Soon sound was introduced with The Jazz Singer (1927) and the dream factories the moguls created entertained the masses with musicals, comedies, horror, westerns, war epics, drama, and noir. By the time the studio system crashed, that era, known as the “Golden Age,” left us with a legacy of timeless artistic works.

Lecture #2: The Stars of the Silver Screen

We all know the names—Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, James Cagney, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Gregory Peck, Rod Steiger, Janet Leigh, Eva Marie Saint, Charlton Heston, Ernest Borgnine, and others. But how well do you really know them? This session will present insights, rare photos, and off-screen stories culled from the instructor’s interview library with these iconic stars.

Lecture #3: It Wasn’t Always Golden

The “Golden” years in Hollywood were not without its tarnish and this session will examine what the studio publicists didn’t want you to know about: how certain segments of our population (African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc.) were, for the most part, not afforded the same opportunities for the trappings that came with screen stardom. And what about labor unrest, the Hollywood blacklist and the forced breakup of the studio’s powerful monopoly on theatrical distribution? All of this will be covered.

Lecture #4: Golden Age Directors

The most honored directors during the “Golden Age,” while generally tethered to the politics of the major studios, nonetheless, put their own stamp on their films. The work of familiar names like Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and Frank Capra will be examined, but also two masters of the musical genre, Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen.


David Fantle

David Fantle is a film historian and career marketing and public relations professional who has been interviewing, writing, and speaking about Hollywood's Golden Age stars for 40 years. His work has appeared in media outlets throughout the world. He is co-author of two book compendiums of Golden Age celebrity interviews, Reel to Real (2004) and Hollywood Heyday: 75 Candid Interviews with Golden Age Legends (2018). He is an adjunct professor in film and pop culture at Marquette University and a regular speaker on film history for several cruise ship lines. He and his wife, Cathy, reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Please note that all 92Y regularly scheduled in-person programs are suspended.