Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Talking, Singing, Dancing Pictures 1929 - 1934 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 3

Monday, October 3, 2011

Talking, Singing, Dancing Pictures 1929 - 1934 • "32 Days of Movies" Day 3


The third chapter in "32 Days of Movies", an audiovisual tour through 366 films.


View "Chapter 3: Talking, Singing, Dancing Pictures"
(2015 update: included Vimeo embed after the jump)


Talking, Singing, Dancing Pictures

Creaky. Tinny. Stagebound. All of these adjectives have been used to describe the early talkies and, sure enough, many directors had no clue what to do with the new technology. Perhaps most did not understand sound at first (and one in this chapter, making his first appearance, didn't want to - at least for the time being). However, those who did understand used sound extremely well, perhaps even better than later filmmakers, who took it for granted. Sound can be a girlfriend screaming over the phone, a radio playing across an alleyway, a glutton burping, or the gutteral growls of a gorilla (two gorillas, actually). Or it could be the sublimely casual way someone asks, "Cigarette?"




In this chapter you'll see - and hear - sound used subjectively (muffling all words except those which agitate the heroine), suggestively (one of the most effective gunfights in cinema history unfolding offscreen), and synchronistically (songs seemingly powering the images along like a battery cable providing an electric charge). So many of these films are musicals and it's no wonder. If dialogue could occasionally shoot down the art of silent cinema like wax-winged Icarus flown too close to the sun, then music could lift it back up on wings of feather, letting the seventh art soar out of this world.

Very minor spoiler (in that most of you will already know all about it) at 1:18 - 2:00. Even if you haven't seen much Chaplin, you should still watch it - if for no other reason than to inspire you to rectify that!

I have covered today's films here, here, here, here, herehere, and here.

Tomorrow: The Golden Ages
Yesterday: Jazz Age Visions

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