One of the "Big Five" studios of Hollywood's golden age, RKO is remembered today primarily for the famous films it produced, from "King Kong" and "Citizen Kane" to the Astaire-Rogers musicals. But its own story also provides a fascinating case study of film industry management during one of the most vexing periods in American social history. "RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan is Born" offers a vivid history of a thirty-year roller coaster of unstable finances, management battles, and artistic gambles. Richard Jewell has used unparalleled access to studio documents generally unavailable to scholars to produce the first business history of RKO, exploring its decision-making processes and illuminating the complex interplay between art and commerce during the heyday of the studio system. Behind the blockbuster films and the glamorous stars, the story of RKO often contained more drama than any of the movies it ever produced.
Richard B. Jewell is Professor of Critical Studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He is the author of The Golden Age of Hollywood, and The RKO Story, among others.
List of Illustrations Introduction 1. "Master Showmen of the World": Prehistory and the Formation of the Company 2. "It's RKO--Let's Go": The Brown-Schnitzer-LeBaron Regime (1929--1931) 3. "Failure on the installment plan, a ticket at a time": The Aylesworth-Kahane-Selznick Regime (1932--1933) 4. "All this is very distressing to me": The Aylesworth-Kahane-Cooper Regime (1933--1934) 5. "He feels the company is unsettled": The Aylesworth-McDonough-Kahane Regime (1934--1935) 6. "An awfully long corner": The Spitz-Briskin Regime (1936--1937) 7. "Plaything of industry": The Spitz-Berman Regime (1938) 8. "The company's best interest": The Schaefer-Berman Regime (1939) 9. "Quality pictures are the lifeblood of this business": The Schaefer-Edington Regime (1940--1941) 10. "Crossing wires": The Schaefer-Breen Regime (1941--1942) Appendix: "The Whole Equation of Pictures" Notes Selected Bibliography Index