Friday, June 20, 2014

Documentary Movie Review: The Brothers Warner

The Brothers Warner a film by Cass Warner Sterling, The Warner Sisters, 2008.
Talk about your functional dysfunctional family.  These brothers, Harry, Albert, Sam, Jack, started small.  Because of their Jewish heritage, (Warner is not their birth name) they found it difficult to get an education, so they went to work.  They eventually fell upon a movie theater and showing films.  However, they had difficulty getting new films, so started making some of their own, with a ware house and a sheet for a backdrop.  They started during the time of silent films, but pioneered talking movies.  A real break-through for them was the movie Jazz Singer with Al Jolsen.  This was the first film with talking and music.  It actually had synchronized talking and lip movement for the first time.  However, the success of this film was marred by the unexpected death of Sam, who had been the biggest promoter of sound, and had basically worked himself to death on the project. 
The other three had long careers in theater, however at times they had squabbles with each other, and sometimes would not talk to each other, but still they provided creative and innovative movies.  They took a lead in trying to confront Nazism, and publicize the concentration camps (before they were acknowledged by the government.)  The were suppressed in several attempts.  They were able to produce a couple of movies based on actual cases of Nazi spying.  However when the war did involve the U.S. they were given greater leeway.  Casa Blanca was a Warner Brothers film.  It won the best picture.  Jack accepted for the family, because he got to the microphone first, even though he was not as involved in this film as his brothers.
One of the more interesting aspects of the studio was how Jack took control.  He convinced his brothers to sell, while making plans to rebuy the studio.  After they all sold, he rebought the studio after only one day, and basically took over operations as president while kicking his brothers out.  Of course his brothers were financially secure, but they always felt wronged. 
Communication was strained even more than previous, and they all passed away eventually without resolving their conflict.
This move was made by Cass Warner Sterling, who is the granddaughter of Harry Warner.

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