THE WARNER BROTHERS by Charles Higham

THE WARNER BROTHERS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Two-reeler treatment of that enterprising family and their contribution to the studio which still bears their name. The Warner brothers -- ""mild and pleasant"" Albert and Sam, ""cold, hard, and driving"" Harry, and ""very hard"" Jack -- went about making and distributing films circa 1912 before launching two of the top box-office stars of the '20's -- John Barrymore and Rin-Tin-Tin. A Vitaphoned trend-setter thanks to The Jazz Singer in 1927, Warner Bros. later turned out most of the memorable social message pictures of the '30's -- Little Caesar, Public Enemy, I Am a Fugitive -- as well as its best biographies (Pasteur, Zola, Ehrlich, etc.) and Busby Berkeley musicals. Highlighted by a stellar stable that included Cagney, Davis, Bogart, Robinson and Stanwyck, WB peaked in the '40's with the likes of The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mildred Pierce, and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Production-halting strikes in 1945 and subsequent HUAC hassles later put a cog in the factory's esprit de corps. Apart from an occasional East of Eden and A Star is Born, the decline continued after Jack Warner's departure in the mid-'50's. A coldly efficient, businesslike job -- factual and spiritless -- just right for all those accountants with the purse strings.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1975
Publisher: Scribners