Corporate fictions: film adaptation and authorship in the classical Hollywood era
“Corporate Fictions: Film Adaptation and Authorship in the Classical Hollywood Era” examines the adaptation of literary fiction by select United States motion picture studios—in reality filmmaking corporations, and analyzed as such in this study—in the 1930s and 1940s. Based largely on research culled from archival resources, each chapter of “Corporate Fictions” analyzes individual instances of and long-term strategies toward film adaptation within several firms through recourse to company memoranda, budgets, marketing campaigns, the literary and cinematic texts themselves and other contemporaneous materials. Analysis of these materials reveals that film adaptation is part of a larger cultural adaptation that takes place when a studio acquires, produces, and releases a literary property—in this process, characters, stories, and even literary authors are dramatically transformed as they are re-projected through such domains as product tie-ins, print, film and radio advertisements, newspaper serializations, movie editions and novelizations, and the primary literary and cinematic texts themselves. Each of the case studies that comprise this dissertation seeks to explain why and how a particular filmmaking corporation would choose to acquire, adapt, and produce a work of literature at a particular moment in its history. In the process, “Corporate Fictions” challenges traditional assumptions that have guided investigations in this field by demonstrating the complexity of film adaptation, a process subject to myriad influences and pragmatic choices, as well as the sophistication by which the companies under scrutiny developed distinctive conventions that guided their approaches to literary acquisition, story development, production, marketing, and exhibition.