Back to IndieWire

Moguls and Movie Stars

Moguls and Movie Stars

TCM’s 7-hour documentary, Moguls and Movie Stars, which began running today, is a sincere, engrossing and generally very well executed history of Hollywood, focused largely on the business side—the moguls and the studios—rather than the movie stars and directors. It is rich in facts and details about the beginnings of the movies, going from the primitive early work of the Lumiere brothers and Edison, and running with equal interest all the way through the rise and fall of the studio system. Christopher Plummer narrates with warm authority, and the whole endeavor is certainly worth the effort to see all seven hours. Of course, another seven hours—or twice that— could valuably be spent documenting the artistic history of Hollywood, and perhaps TCM has such plans up its sleeve. One way or the other, what they do over at Turner Classic Movies is essential to the health of moving picture history, virtually the lone TV voice in the wilderness of film culture in our country, which has contributed so enormously, so memorably to this precious medium. (Complete disclosure: I am one of the vast number of people interviewed for this epic documentary.)

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged


Carolee Parsons

I just rented What’s Up Doc? and really enjoyed it. You did a wonderful job.


It is always a pleasure to hear any of your comments when the History of film is documented. You seem to have the most insightful material and great recollection of anything connected with the movie making process.
I especially enjoy your take on the career and the personality of Orson Wells, which seem to me, is one aspect this new series Hollywood Moguls should address;although he ( Wells) ) had no Moguls status .. his Citizen Kane dealt with the topic brilliantly…

Fred C. Dobbs .

Thank you for all the great things you do — in your own films, your commentaries on other filmmakers’ work, and your books.

FYI: I saw the first episode of TCM Moguls with my girlfriend who’s new to film history, then tuned into the TCM screening of Nickelodeon. Great double bill. She loved the movie and I finally saw what you were doing with your film. Again, thank you for your work!


If you liked this first episode from TCM, you should definitely check out Kevin Brownlow’s epic length films documenting the early days of cinema in both America and Europe. They’re out of print now, but a little searching on eBay should get you started.


As for those ‘primitive’ Lumiere & Edison shorts –

I’d agree that the Edison shorts, the ones shot in that turn-table of a shed they called the Black Maria, seem to fit that description.

But Lumiere’s efforts, those wondrous ‘actualities’ don’t seem primitive at all. Right from the start, they look like ‘Little Pieces of Time,’ to borrow a nicely turned phrase.


@Colin Bannon:

Please read the title of this blog again. Carefully this time.

Charlie Coates

Peter thanks for kind words. And don’t forget you are due some praise yourself — in that NICKELODEON is airing along with the Doc. So looking at it, apart from general howling laughter and best Brian Keith ever, egads, the streetcar where Harrigan meets Kathleen. Yikes, I had to stop and catch my breath. Just wondrous, altogether like the first time. That along with Maria Schell in THE MAGIC BOX, well I’ll just have to take the day off. Best, Thks C

Colin Bannon

Love your writing… But I think you need to change the name of this blog to…


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *