Author Chris Yogerst discusses his most recent book, The Warner Brothers, with Warner Bros. Discovery Librarian George Feltenstein on Thursday evening, November 16, at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library.
Warner Bros. Studios is celebrating its one hundredth anniversary during 2023. Founded by the four Warner brothers – Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack – the movie studio grew into an international juggernaut of film and media that has both reflected and shaped American culture over the years.
Yogerst’s interest in the Warner brothers story “began with falling in love with their topical, hard-hitting, fast-paced films. From there, I learned that the movies represented the brothers in myriad ways. The brothers were the ultimate underdogs and their films always managed to represent such figures throughout history.”
“The studio’s stance on social issues was largely driven by the top down by the socially conscious moral leader of the company, Harry Warner. The younger brothers largely followed Harry’s gut on political issues,” Yogerst continued. “That said, all of the brothers played a significant role in building their empire. While Harry led the charge against Nazis, Sam led the company to successfully bring sound film to market, Albert perfected distribution, while Jack managed a tight shop on the studio lot that mirrored the punchy narratives Warner Bros. is known for.”
Yogerst is a film and media historian who has published a number of books and scholarly articles, including Hollywood Hates Hitler! Jew-Baiting, Anti-Nazism, and the Senate Investigation into Warmongering in Motion Pictures and From the Headlines to Hollywood: The Birth and Boom of Warner Bros.
Feltenstein is deeply involved with Warner Bros. Studios classic film and television library and the Warner Archives ongoing work preserving the studio’s history.
Feltenstein noted his interest in discussing “Chris’ new, wonderful book and how it reflects the history of our founders from a personal point of view. What differentiates the book from others, is that it is far more personal to the story of these four men, and the perspective Chris has brought is unprecedented in a wonderful way.”
“Based on the previous events I’ve been part of at the library, I sincerely believe that Warner Bros. has been (and continues to maintain) a towering (no pun intended) part of Burbank,” he continued. “When people think of Burbank, many people think of Warner Bros.”
“True, there was a time decades ago when NBC was encroaching on that territory a bit, but those days are long gone, and thankfully WB remains. Much like people think of MGM in terms of Culver City, so they think of WB in terms of Burbank,” he also said. “So many residents here either are or have family members who are or were part of the studio, that it is a very strong force in the ethos of the community.”
“I believe we will have a great conversation about his book and the impact of the brothers and the studio that carries their name today are intertwined with the times, both past and present,” Feltenstein concluded.
“The great revelation in this book is the story of Harry Warner, the oldest of the brothers, who was President of the company during its formative years,” commented Librarian Hubert Kozak. “Before now, Jack Warner – interesting character that he was – has always had the spotlight. His character, for better or worse, has influenced how we view the art and ambitions of the company.”
“Jack was only one part of the story. Harry’s traditional religious values and his idealism shaped the company and influenced the kinds of film Warner Bros. chose to make in those early years,” Kozak added. “Harry’s character is an important one to bring to light, and celebrate, in this 100th anniversary year of the company. It seems integral to understanding the enormous impact the company was to make on American identity and culture.”
The Warner Brothers author event begins runs from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library. The library is located at 300 N. Buena Vista Street in Burbank. The event is free and open to the public. Plenty of free parking is available on site.