George Kleine and American Cinema

The Movie Business and Film Culture in the Silent Era


George Kleine was a New York City optician who moved to Chicago in 1893 to set up an optical store. In 1896 he branched out and began selling motion picture equipment and films. Within a few years he becameAmerica's largest film distributor and a pivotal figure in the movie business.

In chronicling the career of this motion picture pioneer – including his rapid rise to fame and fortune, but also his gradual downfall after 1915 as the era of Hollywood began – Joel Frykholm provides an in-depth account of the emergence of the motion picture business in the United States and its development throughout the silent era. Through the lens of Kleine's fascinating career, this book explores how motion pictures gradually transformed from a novelty into an economic and cultural institution central to both American life and an increasingly globalised culture of mass entertainment.

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    Book (peer reviewed)
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About the Author

Joel Frykholm

I'm Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Section for Cinema Studies, Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University. My primary research interest is early American cinema, including issues of industrial and cultural change, historic reception... Read more


Frykholm, J. (2015). George Kleine and American Cinema: The Movie Business and Film Culture in the Silent Era. London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan.