In his chapter ‘Genre and Hollywood’ in the book of the same name, Steve Neale suggests that genre theory is often limited in scope (Neale, 2000). He notes that in certain instances, the discussion of genre is limited to a narrow range of films and textual structures, and is often understood outside of much institutional and economic consideration. So, while we will consider a few key debates in terms of the canon of film genres, we will also pay attention to the wider social and economic conditions that produced such genres in the studio period. As we will see, genres are not absolute in terms of function, history, mode, or style. In fact, during the classical era, the industry did not prioritise genre films; instead, it focused on producing bankable, risk-free film themes that were most likely to produce returns. So, in order to understand the function of genre, we must reflect upon the origins of genre as a concept, the possible reasons for and consequences of the development of genre, particularly in the early years of the Hollywood studio system, and finally we must reflect upon the alternative and sometimes conflicting methods of approaching genre.