I don't know if I'd quite agree Paramount was the most unstable of the studios. Yes it was close to bankruptcy in 1932 but the only studio that didn't lose money during the Depression was MGM. Not sure when Paramount became solvent but I think it was pretty safe after Mae West saved the studio at least till the TV era anyway. I think RKO was the most unstable of the five majors simply because it was the smallest and the management changed continually. They were losing money in 1932 and I don't think the books were properly balanced till the end of the decade.
Getting back to The Hollywood Studios by Ethan Morden I have this book and its very good. The only thing I would say is its more a critical survey than a history which is no bad thing I'd like to see more books that look at the various studios strengths and weaknesses. I think this is a neglected area of study of classic Hollywood.
I love the studio history books : The Paramount Story, The MGM Story etc they are great for detailed info about the studios, the basics of how they came about, the men behind them but I love them most probably because they are just wonderful to browse through.
If you are really interested in the history of the studios from a wider perspective and want to get a sense of how the system operated I would recommend Thomas Schatz's The Genius of the System which focuses on a big major MGM, a smaller major Warners, a minor studio Universal and the career of independent producer David O' Selznick to show how things worked in classic Hollywood under different circumstances. Other good books I've read about the studios include Joel W Finler's The Hollywood Story and Ronald Davis' The Glamour Factory which is more an anecdotal history.
That's a really detailed and useful reply. Thank you! I'm now reading Morden's book and, so far, I am enjoying it. I'm fascinated by studio history so I've added your recommendations to my Amazon wishlist. I chose to start with Morden's book as it seemed pretty comprehensive. The reviews I've read tend to be mixed but I still needed somewhere to start.
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