Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood, Turner Classic Movies lives up to its sterling reputation as the finest purveyor of all things grandly cinematic. Whether you’re a seasoned cinephile or a film novice who doesn’t know a Griffith from a Goldwyn, this epic, seven-part series (premiering this Monday, November 1, on TCM) will offer plenty of insight on how the movies were born and evolved over the past century.
Divided into one-hour episodes covering roughly each decade, from the 1900s to the 1960s, Moguls & Movie Stars presents a rich history of the art — and business — of moviemaking. Along the way, one discovers that this is also the story of America, as such historical touchstones as the Great Depression, World War II and the age of television drastically affected the players involved… and the movies they made.
And what a cast of characters, from the immigrants who rose from poverty to create and control their own Hollywood “Dream Factories” to the actors and actresses who, defying the odds, ascended the ranks to become “American royalty”, a.k.a. “movie stars”. A veritable “Who’s Who” of the Hollywood elite can be seen (both in clips from their screen classics and in rare behind-the-scenes footage), including Pickford, Gish, Chaplin, Valentino, Keaton, Garbo, Cagney, Davis, Gable, Hepburn, Grant, Stewart, Crawford, Bogart, Astaire, Garland, Rooney, Wayne, Brando, Dean, Monroe… and the list goes on.
Narrated by Christopher Plummer, the series features commentary by a host of film experts, historians and critics, including Peter Bogdonovich, Sidney Lumet, Leonard Maltin, Molly Haskell, David Thomson, Gore Vidal and (naturally) TCM host Robert Osborne. Also on hand to provide personal reminiscences are several descendants of the great movie moguls of the past, such as Richard Zanuck and Samuel Goldwyn, Jr.
Each new episode of Moguls & Movie Stars will air Mondays through December 13, with encore presentations the following Wednesday. A brief panel discussion, hosted by Osborne, will be presented after each of the Wednesday repeats as well.
In conjunction with Moguls & Movie Stars, TCM will also screen several hard to see classic films each Monday night throughout the run of the series. Rare titles scheduled to air include Traffic in Souls, Within Our Gates, The Poor Little Rich Girl, The Squaw Man, Sunrise, Four Horseman of the Apocalypse and Show People, as well as collections of short film from the likes of Thomas Edison, D.W. Griffith and Georges Méliès.
UPDATE: Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood is now available on DVD from Amazon.com.