Hearst Over Hollywood

Power, Passion, and Propaganda in the Movies

Louis Pizzitola

Columbia University Press

Hearst Over Hollywood

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Pub Date: January 2002

ISBN: 9780231116466

540 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $45.00£35.00

Pub Date: January 2002

ISBN: 9780231507554

540 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $18.99£14.99

Hearst Over Hollywood

Power, Passion, and Propaganda in the Movies

Louis Pizzitola

Columbia University Press

Hollywood—crossroads of filmmaking, mythmaking, and politics—was dominated by one man more than any other for most of its history. It was William Randolph Hearst who understood how to use cinema to exploit the public's desire for entertainment and to create film propaganda to further his own desire for power. From the start, Hearst saw his future and the future of Hollywood as one and the same. He pioneered and capitalized on the synergistic relationship between yellow journalism and advertising and motion pictures. He sent movie cameramen to the inauguration of William McKinley and the front lines of the Spanish-American War. He played a prominent role in organizing film propaganda for both sides fighting World War I. By the 1910s, Hearst was producing his own pictures—he ran one of the first animation studios and made many popular and controversial movie serials, including The Perils of Pauline (creating both the scenario and the catchphrase title) and Patria. As a feature film producer, Hearst was responsible for some of the most talked-about movies of the 1920s and 1930s. Behind the scenes in Hollywood, Hearst had few equals—he was a much-feared power broker from the Silent Era to the Blacklisting Era.

Hearst Over Hollywood draws on hundreds of previously unpublished letters and memos, FBI Freedom of Information files, and personal interviews to document the scope of Hearst's power in Hollywood. Louis Pizzitola tells the hidden story of Hearst's shaping influence on both film publicity and film censorship—getting the word out and keeping it in check—as well as the growth of the "talkies," and the studio system. He details Hearst's anti-Semitism and anti-Communism, used to retaliate for Citizen Kane and to maintain dominance in the film industry, and exposes his secret film deal with Germany on the eve of World War II.

The author also presents new insights into Hearst's relationships with Marion Davies, Will Hays, Louis B. Mayer, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mussolini, Hitler, and the Kennedys. Hearst Over Hollywood is a tour de force of biography, cultural study, and film history that reveals as never before the brilliance and darkness of Hearst's prophetic connection with Hollywood.
A valuable contribution to American film history. Cineaste
I don't know if there could be a more timely book right now than this particular book...I can't recommend it highly enough. Frank Rich
Pizzitola doesn't slight much of anything...He works in fascinating digressions.... This groundbreaking volume's focus on Hearst's imagemaking illuminates exactly how he went about warping the world to his will. San Francisco Chronicle
This well-written, meticulously researched biography of a flawed figure reveals a more complex portrait of Hearst than previous biographies. Highly recommended. Library Journal
Stands as a comprehensive examination of how movie truth is created and how Hearst helped set its boundaries. Publishers Weekly
[F]or those interested in the growth of entertainment media, Louis Pizzitola's history of the news magnate is fascinating. Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Includes numerous photographs and stills and more material on the movies than any other Hearst biography. Choice
Preface: Ourselves as Others See Us
1. Behind the Scenes, 1880s–1890s
2. The Artist-Journalist, 1895–1898
3. Film News, 1898–1906
4. Medium for a New Century, 1900–1907
5. It Pays to Advertise, 1907–1914
6. When Men Betray, 1914–1916
7. Perils of Passion, 1915–1917
8. Trader, 1915–1918
9. The Perils of Propaganda, 1917–1918
10. Fits and Starts, 1917–1919
11. Over Production, 1919–1922
12. Fire and Smoke, 1922–1925
13. Industry, 1925–1929
14. Above the Law, 1929–1934
15. Remote Control, 1934–1940
16. Hollywood Isolationist, 1940–1947
17. No Trespassing, 1947–1951

Commended, 2017 Richard Wall Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association

About the Author

Louis Pizzitola is a visual artist and an amateur filmmaker.