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Episode complete credited cast:
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Himself - Presenter
Jane Zumwalt ...
Actor (as Jane Montosi)
Jacob Ochsner ...
Actor (as Jacob Oschner)
Micah Tayloe Owens ...
Young Boy
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Billy Bitzer
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Himself (archive footage)
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Herself
William Walker ...
Himself - Black 1916 Audience Member (archive footage)
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Release Date:

27 May 2011 (UK)  »

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Familiar Retread Through the Early Days of Hollywood
15 May 2016 | by (London) – See all my reviews

Paul Merton cuts a familiar presence on screen with his white suit and panama hat advertising his fundamental Englishness in a different country. The screen persona works quite well, as it sets him apart from his subjects, characterizing him as an intellectual innocent abroad wanting to find out more about his specific subjects.

In THE BIRTH OF Hollywood he looks at the origins and growth of the film industry from its beginnings in New York until the glory days of MGM in the late Twenties and early Thirties. In this, the first episode, he traces how the film industry in America borrowed from its European counterparts and had its beginnings in the Nickleodeons of the early twentieth century. He describes how the film industry was a mass communications medium, with audiences flocking to see the sight of moving pictures - a phenomenon that was so different from what they had sampled before that they were often fascinated by it.

While the material has been well-trodden before (the documentary includes extracts from Kevin Brownlow's memorable Thames series Hollywood (1980) that includes archival interviews with many of the people involved in establishing the film industry), Merton cuts an informed presence. There is plenty here to enjoy, not only factually but also scenically, as Merton tours the historic movie sites of New York and Hollywood in search of authenticity.


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