Eric Hoyt’s original focus and smart approach provides a new perspective on what we may have considered familiar film history.
Eric Hoyt, Hollywood Vault: Film Libraries Before Home Video, University of California Press, 2014, 288 pp.
As a film historian I think about movies a lot, however I’ve never been more conscious of the physical size and weight of film until a recent visit to a collector’s apartment in Manhattan. Standing in his kitchenette – one of the many rooms given over to his film collection – he explained: “I removed the stove for more space. I couldn’t use it anyway because the heat would damage the film. Now I just microwave everything.” I returned a look that expressed something of both awe and concern. The space, effort, and cost required to preserve film proves considerable so if you’re not storing it out of love it needs to have value. While individuals may be susceptible to the former, the latter motivates corporations. “When did old movies become valuable?” This is the question Eric Hoyt asks at the start of his book Hollywood Vault, which traces the changing valuation of film libraries across six decades from their emergence in the silent era through to their acquisition by conglomerates in the late sixties (2). Continue reading