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VitagraphAmerica's First Great Motion Picture Studio$
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Andrew A. Erish

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780813181196

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813181196.001.0001

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(p.111) 4 1914–1918

Andrew A. Erish

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter encompasses the World War I years. Special attention is given to the company's role in the development of the feature film and creation of a distribution network to handle such longer productions, the relocation of Vitagraph's Los Angeles studio to Hollywood, the War's adverse impact on European profit and the company's consequent expansion of international sales to Latin America and Asia, and Vitagraph's lead in combating racial and gender prejudice through its movies. Blackton's controversial production, The Battle Cry of Peace, is profiled, conceived as propaganda in support of the Preparedness Movement that enjoyed the cooperation of top government leaders and the US military. The short-lived hostile takeover of Vitagraph by outside interests is explored in depth, as is the subsequent defection of Blackton to Paramount. The chapter concludes with Vitagraph's legal battle with fledgling producer Louis B. Mayer, which had long-term consequences for contract players.

Keywords:   feature film, racial prejudice, international sales, Hollywood studios, distribution, Anita Stewart, propaganda, World War I, Louis B. Mayer

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