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When the Cock Crows

When the Cock Crows

A History of the Pathé Exchange

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Richard Lewis Ward


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
19 illustrations


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About the Book

Influential during Hollywood’s silent-film era, the Pathé Exchange was a multinational film company with a production and distribution model very different from the self-contained units of most major studios. When the Cock Crows: A History of the Pathé Exchange, by Richard Lewis Ward, tells the unconventional story of this unique company, examining its triumphs and failures on the margins of the Hollywood system and its legacy in the movie business.
Ward traces the company’s turbulent evolution from its roots as an American distributor for Pathé Frères, its French parent studio, through its many subsequent changes in ownership, to its final years under the controversial leadership of Joseph P. Kennedy and the eventual merger of the company’s production department with RKO. Included are the stories of the unlikely survival of Pathé’s nonproduction assets, such as Pathé Industries, Inc., Pathé-America Distributing Co., Inc., and Pathé Communications Corporation, which continued to operate as part of the industry long after the Exchange had ceased to exist. Ward also provides a fascinating glimpse into the silent movie era and the business and creative decisions that led the Exchange to fail.
Film historians have largely ignored the Pathé Exchange, despite its having produced some of the most famous early serials (including the series that began with The Perils of Pauline) and distributed the first films of comedy legends Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon, Laurel and Hardy, and Our Gang. When the Cock Crows reveals the promise and peril of early Hollywood and establishes the company’s vital place in film history, creating a more vivid picture of this era. 


Richard Lewis Ward is an associate professor at the University of South Alabama. He is the author of A History of the Hal Roach Studios, as well as numerous articles about film history, particularly in the silent era.


“Ward’s thoroughly researched book provides an indispensable history of the Pathé Exchange. . . . [It] traces the company’s tribulations on the fringes of Hollywood and, more important, illuminates the complex and ever-shifting corporate world of Hollywood itself during these formative years.”—Joshua Yumibe, author of Moving Color: Early Film, Mass Culture, Modernism
“[A]n extensively researched and lucidly explained chronicle of one of the film industry’s overlooked corporate players. . . . Neither a part of the oligopoly that controlled Hollywood nor a denizen of Poverty Row, Pathé Exchange, an offshoot of the venerable French company, occupied a unique niche. Ward provides us with a revealing account of a ‘self-marginalized’ company constantly at the economic mercy of a vertically integrated system it could never fully penetrate.”—Charlie Keil, University of Toronto