Sunday, December 11, 2005
* Known For: Working-class grittiness; also, musicals and biopics
* In Charge: Jack & Harry Warner, Hal Willis
* Directors: Michael Curtiz, Mervyn LeRoy, Busby Berkeley
* Actresses: Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford,Jane Wyman, Olivia De Havilland
* Actors: James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, Erroll Flynn, Humphrey Bogart
* Typical Films: Little Caesar, Public Enemy, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, The Roaring Twenties, 42nd Street, The Life of Emile Zola
Warner Brothers, one of Hollywood's most famous studios, was founded in 1923 by four actual brothers: Jack, Sam, Harry & Albert Warner. The siblings never seemed to get along with each other, but Warner Bros Studios managed to produce some of the most memorable movies in the history of Hollywood, including the world's first "talkie" with Al Jolson, "The Jazz Singer" (1927), "The Adventures Robin Hood" (1938), "Casablanca" (1942), "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942), "Cool Hand Luke" (1967), "Deliverance" (1972), "The Exorcist" (1973), "Chariots of Fire" (1981), "Body Heat" (1981), and the current string of "Batman" films.
Where M-G-M went in for bright, colorful musicals, Warner Bros preferred black & white, and gritty, realistic dramas. The studio put out numerous top notch gangster films, such as "Little Caesar" (with Edward G. Robinson, 1930), "The Public Enemy" (with James Cagney, 1921), "I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" (1932), as well as Humphrey Bogart insuch classic film noir as "The Maltese Falcon" (1941), "The Big Sleep" (1946) and of course the unforgettable "Casablanca" (1941). They also gave us such Oscar winning dramas as "The Story of Louis Pasteur" (1936), "The Life of Emile Zola" (1937), and "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" (1948).
When Warner Bros did give the public musicals, they were usually black and white (such as "42nd Street" and Busby Berkley's "Gold Diggers" films), and were often a bit more cynical than those M-G-M Technicolor spectaculars. It wasn't until the late 1950's that Warner Bros finally favored full color, big time musicals, and then the studio went all out, creating classics such as "Damn Yankees" (1958), "The Music Man" (1962), "Camelot" (1967), and "My Fair Lady" (1964).