United Artists: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

United Artists

1st Edition

Edited by Peter Krämer, Gary Needham, Yannis Tzioumakis, Tino Balio


304 pages | 39 B/W Illus.

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Established in 1919 by Hollywood's top talent United Artists has had an illustrious history, from Hollywood minor to industry leader to a second-tier media company in the shadow of MGM. This edited collection brings together leading film historians to examine key aspects of United Artists' centennial history from its origins to the sometimes chaotic developments of the last four decades. The focus is on several key executives – ranging from Joseph Schenck to Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise – and on many of the people making films for United Artists, including Gloria Swanson, David O. Selznick, Kirk Douglas, the Mirisch brothers and Woody Allen. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, individual case studies explore the mutually supportive but also in places highly contentious relationships between United Artists and its producers, the difficult balance between artistic and commercial objectives, and the resulting hits and misses (among them The General, the Pink Panther franchise, Heaven’s Gate, Cruising, and Hot Tub Time Machine). The second volume in the Routledge Hollywood Centenary series, United Artists is a fascinating and comprehensive study of the firm’s history and legacy, perfect for students and researchers of cinema and film history, media industries, and Hollywood.

Table of Contents

Introduction: United Artists in Film History – Tino Balio

Part 1

Introduction to Part 1 – Yannis Tzioumakis

Chapter 1 ‘One of the United Artists’: Buster Keaton, Joseph Schenck and United Artists – Peter Krämer

Chapter 2 Declarations of Independence: Gloria Swanson at United Artists, 1925-1933 – Mike Mashon

Chapter 3 Going Independent in 1930s Hollywood: Freelance Star and Independent Producer Collaborations at United Artists – Emily Carman

Chapter 4 The Tramp, the Dictator and the Knight: United Artists and the Roadshowing of Prestige Pictures in the 1930s and 1940s – Sheldon Hall

Chapter 5 ‘Look, Ma, I’m A Corporation!’: United Artists and Kirk Douglas’s Bryna Productions 1955-1959 – James Fenwick

Chapter 6 The Magnificent Seven Mirisch Companies: Competitive Strategy and Corporate Authorship – Paul Kerr

Chapter 7 An Artist Under the Influence: United Artists and Woody Allen – Michael Petitti

Chapter 8 No Shot in the Dark: Developing the Pink Panther Franchise – Oliver Gruner

Part 2

Introduction to Part 2 – Yannis Tzioumakis

Chapter 9 United Artists, Fourth Quarter 1980: The Rhetoric of Hollywood Failure & Success – Justin Wyatt

Chapter 10 ‘Cruising Is A Picture We Sincerely Wish We Did Not Have to Show’: United Artists, Ratings, Blind-bidding and the Controversy of William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) – Gary Needham

Chapter 11 From Heaven’s Gate to Rocky IV: Reconfiguring Auteurism in United Artists’ Transition to MGM/UA in the 1980s – Nicholas Godfrey

Chapter 12 The Next Step: Orion Pictures as the New United Artists (1978-1985) – Yannis Tzioumakis

Chapter 13 United Artists Films: Re-entering the Specialty Market (1999-2005) – Lisa Dombrowski

Chapter 14 From Star-Producer to Executive: Tom Cruise and/at United Artists (2006-2012) – Sarah E.S. Sinwell

About the Editors

Peter Krämer is a Senior Research Fellow in Cinema and TV in the Leicester Media School at De Montfort University, and a Senior Fellow in the School of Art, Media and American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is the author or editor of ten academic books, including the BFI Film Classic on The General.

Gary Needham is Senior Lecturer in Film and Media at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of a book on Brokeback Mountain and co-editor of collections on Queer TV and the films of Andy Warhol. He is currently writing a book on the Andy Warhol/Edie Sedgwick films for Bloomsbury and co-edits the Routledge Hollywood Centenary series with Yannis Tzioumakis.

Yannis Tzioumakis is Reader in Film and Media Industries at the University of Liverpool. He is the author of five books, most recently of Acting Indie: Industry, Aesthetics and Performance (2020 with Cynthia Baron) and co-editor of five collections, including The Hollywood Renaissance: Revisiting American Cinema’s Most Celebrated Era (2018). He co-edits the Routledge Hollywood Centenary and the Cinema and Youth Cultures book series.

Tino Balio is Professor Emeritus of Film in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the American film industry, including two monographs on the history of United Artists: United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars (1976) and United Artists: The Company that Changed the Film Industry (1987). He is also the author of MGM (2018), part of the Routledge Hollywood Centenary series.

About the Series

The Routledge Hollywood Centenary Series

The Routledge Hollywood Centenary is an eight volume book series dedicated to the 100 year anniversary from the establishment of the major Hollywood studios. Originally self-run organisations operating within a clearly defined film industry, from the 1960s onwards these companies have become divisions of various conglomerates during a long period of corporate consolidation and, more recently, of media convergence driven by the advent of digital technology and changes in distribution and consumption. From the ‘studio’ to the ‘post-studio’ era, from ‘Classical Hollywood’ to ‘Conglomerate Hollywood’, through changes in ownership and management regimes, and through collaborations with ever changing clusters of talent each Hollywood studio has been a major contributor to the ways in which American cinema acquired a particular identity at different historical junctures. The Routledge Hollywood Centenary volumes provide an authoritative history of these long-standing organisations and examine in detail how each studio has put an indelible stamp on American cinema and beyond.

Series editors: Yannis Tzioumakis (University of Liverpool) and Gary Needham (University of Liverpool)

Advisory board:

Warren Buckland (Oxford Bookes University)

Peter Krämer (University of East Anglia)

Paul McDonald (King’s College)

Eileen Meehan (Southern Illinois University)

Thomas Schatz (University of Texas at Austin)

Janet Staiger (University of Texas at Austin)

Janet Wasko (University of Oregon)

Justin Wyatt (University of Rhode Island)


MGM (2018) Tino Balio - recipient of the 2019 Peter C. Rollins Book Award from the


Fox – Frederick Wasser

Universal – Thomas Schatz

Paramount – Douglas Gomery and Clara Pafort-Overduin

Warner Bros. – Richard Maltby

Columbia – Matthew Bernstein and Eddy Von Mueller

Disney – Susan Ohmer

United Artists – Peter Krämer, Gary Needham, Yannis Tzioumakis and Tino Balio (eds)

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies