Further Reading

Hopefully this site has whetted your appetite on one of its many intertwined subjects. The following books and papers cover various related subjects and are all very highly recommended:

Movie Theater Audiences

Read on JSTOR

Richard Butsch, “American Movie Audiences of the 1930s,” International Labor and Working-Class History, no. 59, Workers and Film: As Subject and Audience (Spring 2001).

Butsch discusses how the one-two punch of sound film and the Depression permanently shaped the movie theater industry. It provides a wonderful overview of how movie audiences lived in and experienced their local theaters in the 1930s.

The Movie Theater Industry

The Coming of Sound by Douglas Gomery
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Douglas Gomery, The Coming of Sound (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005).

Douglas Gomery, Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United States (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).

Douglas Gomery, “The Picture Palace: Economic Sense or Hollywood Nonsense?,” Quarterly Review of Film Studies 3, no. 1 (Winter 1978): 24–36.

Douglas Gomery, “The Movies Become Big Business: Publix Theatres and the Chain Store Strategy,” Cinema Journal 18, no. 2 (Spring 1979): 26–40.

Gomery’s writing on the 1920s and 30s movie theater industry is, as I say in the Introduction, essential reading. Although he doesn’t write about the Twin Cities or labor much, many of the forces and trends involved with the story here on this website can be better understood from Gomery’s bigger-picture perspective.

The Twin Cities Movie Theater Industry

Twin Cities Picture Show
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Dave Kenney, Twin Cities Picture Show: A Century of Moviegoing (Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2007).

Twin Cities Picture Show sets the standard for histories of film exhibition in the Twin Cities. Kenney doesn’t bring up labor often, but the book offers and better history of  than I could hope to accomplish.

The Labor Movement

Elizabeth Faue, Community of Suffering & Struggle (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).

William Millikan, A Union Against Unions: The Minneapolis Citizens Alliance and Its Fight Against Organized Labor, 1903–1947 (Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2001).

Charles Rumford Walker, American City: A Rank and File History of Minneapolis (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1937).

These three histories of labor in the Twin Cities can help provide context for understanding what the general labor movement was like in the Twin Cities, outside of the movie theater industry.

Movie Theater Architecture

Cinema Treasures, 2000–Present.

Maggie Valentine, The Show Starts on the Sidewalk: An Architectural History of the Movie Theatre (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994).

A longstanding love of movie theater architecture, particularly the movie palaces of the ’20s and ’30s, lead to a broader interest in the movie theater industry of this era.

Musicians’ Unions vs. Sound Film

Three Strikes: Miners, Musicians, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor's Last Century
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Robin D. G. Kelley, “Without a Song: New York Musicians Strike Out Against Technology” in Three Strikes: Miners, Salesgirls, and the Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2001).

Although not about the Twin Cities, Robin Kelley’s tale of the 1934 movie theater musicians’ strike in New York City helps us understand how other workers fought back (and ultimately lost) against the “tragic threat” of sound films.