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The Dream Merchants: 1920-1928 

The American movie business started as peepshows and grew into a near-mythical art form that used an exciting new technology to create drama, laughter and adventure bigger than life.


Jon Wilkman


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Plummer ... Narrator (voice)
Peter Bogdanovich ... Himself - Director, Film Historian
Richard D. Zanuck ... Himself - Producer (as Richard Zanuck)
Susan Fox-Rosellini Susan Fox-Rosellini ... Herself - Great Granddaughter of William Fox
Robert Osborne ... Himself - Journalist, Film Historian
Steven J. Ross Steven J. Ross ... Himself - Film Historian
Gore Vidal ... Himself - Author
Marc Wanamaker Marc Wanamaker ... Himself - Film Historian, Photo Archivist
Cari Beauchamp ... Herself - Film Historian
Leonard Maltin ... Himself - Critic and Film Historian
Jeanine Basinger Jeanine Basinger ... Herself - Film Historian
Daniel Selznick Daniel Selznick ... Himself - Grandson of Louis B. Mayer (as Daniel Mayer Selznick)
Anthony Slide Anthony Slide ... Himself - Film Historian
Tony Maietta Tony Maietta ... Himself - Film Historian
David Stenn ... Himself - Film Historian


The American movie business started as peepshows and grew into a near-mythical art form that used an exciting new technology to create drama, laughter and adventure bigger than life.

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Release Date:

15 November 2010 (USA) See more »

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User Reviews

Silent film matures as an art form and then..
18 September 2015 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

... well, that's for the next installment. Primarily, this series is about the Hollywood moguls and how they created their individual studios, created the studio system, and maintained that system in some form or another until the 1960s. This episode does a good job of paralleling the stories of the big stars of the 1920's with those of the moguls, because, let's face it, a series JUST about business mergers and acquisitions will get dull eventually. So it is spiced up with details about the moguls themselves and with information about the stars of that era. For example, there is a lot here on Samuel Goldwyn, and how he was basically just a crap shooter, at work and at play, because he thought anything he did would get him in a better position than the position in which he started. This was the era of the big movie palaces, of Valentino's rise and then sudden death and the spectacle of his funeral, and of Greta Garbo. It is funny how the series will just throw an interesting tidbit out there like mentioning that there were no photos taken of Greta between October 1926 and April 1927, and how that was unprecedented given her quick rise to stardom. Was she perhaps pregnant? The series just throws that out there and leaves the viewer to ponder it. At any rate, this episode very much gives you a feel of how the 20's roared, how the movies roared right along with them, and how the men in charge of the movie studios - men who largely had the impoverished Jewish immigrant experience in common with each other - so well read their American audiences.

The post documentary conversation presided over by Robert Osborne with a variety of film historians is worth the price of admission. I miss the days when Mr. Osborne did more of these kinds of projects, but I'm just glad he's still with us as I am writing this, and that he is still the face of Turner Classic Movies.

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