|Photo by Miramax Films / Sweetland Films|
Stage plays about life on the stage are nearly as old as the theatre, from sections of Shakespeare's Hamlet and A Midsummer Night's Dream to, more recently, works like Lend Me a Tenor and Curtains. Similarly, Hollywood started making movies about making movies in the Silent Era, beginning with flicks like "Show People" and "The Cameraman" and continuing with "Sunset Boulevard," "The Player" and "Synecdoche, New York," among many others.
A hybrid genre of these two art forms — and hardly less robust — is the theatre film. From film's earliest days, directors and screenwriters drew on the intrinsically dramatic world of the theatre for story plots. Autocratic producers, egomaniacal directors, idealistic playwrights, vain actors, dreamy-eyed ingenues — all these and many more quickly became familiar stock figures in Hollywood's many backstage dramas of the 1920s and 1930s. As the theatre's central role in American culture declined, the number of theatre films dwindled, but filmdom's fascination with the stage has never completely vanished, with a "Topsy Turvy" or a "Bullets Over Broadway" appearing every few years.
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