A business-oriented brief on a giant of the film industry. There is precious little gossip or spicy finagling in Balio's new...

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UNITED ARTISTS: The Company That Changed the Film Industry

A business-oriented brief on a giant of the film industry. There is precious little gossip or spicy finagling in Balio's new book, but readers eager for hard financial film-talk will be gripped--and both heartened and disheartened by Balio's magnifying glass to the UA ledger. What heartens is that businessmen like Arthur B. Krim and Robert S. Benjamin could enter the movie business and--starting from zero--guide a company into massive monetary and artistic success. What disheartens is the subsequent total revamping of UA by the Transamerica Corporation conglomerate, which set UA into computerized ledger-balancing and money-grubbing at the expense of talented filmmakers, and brought on the eventual death of UA's brand of independent production that had granted filmmakers autonomy and creative freedom over the making of their pictures. Formed by Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks to distribute their independently financed films, UA did not itself finance the making of films. When Krim and Benjamin took over the ailing company in 1951, UA owned practically nothing. Krim and Benjamin offered postwar independents a way to join in the profits of distribution, since UA itself had no studio overhead. Balio charts the company's expansion into film financing, its tremendous profits, and its being suckered into a ""policy of product selection completely changed from emphasis on the risk of loss to emphasis on the prospect of profit. In other words, instead of playing red or black on the roulette table, playing a number in the hopes of hitting the jackpot."" A solid report that should appeal to those interested both in film and finance.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1987

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of Wisconsin Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1987