Some time back, although we know not when, some wise old wag glanced at the sun bleached bones that are strewn across the Santa Monica beaches and softly murmured a truth that was picked up by the winds and delivered to the waiting ears of all those who ever wanted to understand that region. The reflective words that this all-knowing buttinsky spake were these:
"Los Angeles is where prom queens go to die"
- and this is the subject of the attached column from 1929. Seeing that thousands of lassies were drawn to Hollywood believing that all that was needed to succeed was a pretty face, this author pointed out that their education came at a cost. With the birth of the Talkies, this prognosticator surmised that the next surge of young lovelies would be made up of pretty girls with lovely speaking voices - and their futures were predictable.
Upon viewing one of the earliest sound movies this film reviewer did not find it odd in the least as to why the audiences laughed uproariously while listening to perfectly ordinary dialog during the viewing of one of Hollywood's newest offering "War Nurse" (directed by Edgar Selwyn):
"It was not so much [that they chortled] at these isolated bits of dialogue that the audience laughed, as it was a resort to laughter caused by the absurdity ceaseless chatter that prevails throughout the entire production."
From Amazon: Shattered Silents: How the Talkies Came to Stay
Assorted quotes addressing some aspects of the 1930 Hollywood and the entertainment industry seated there. Some are prophets who rant-on about the impending failure of talking pictures, others go on about the obscene sums of money generated in the film colony; a few of the wits are well-known to us, like Thomas Edison, George M. Cohan and Walter Winchell but most are unknown - one anonymous sage, remarking about the invention of sound movies, prophesied:
"In ten years, most of the good music of the world will be written for sound motion pictures."
Attached are excerpts from a few 1929 British newspapers that condemned all efforts made in Hollywood to produce talking pictures; one snide reviewer went so far as to insist that rather than calling the films "talkies", they should be referred to as "dummies":
"The majority of films in the future will be made stupidly for stupid people, just has been the case with the silent movies for twenty years..."
•Read About the First Talkie Movie Star•
New York theater critic Howard Barnes contributed some bitter-sweet words about the earthquake that was taking place within the entertainment industry called "Talkies". Ultimately he believed that there was a future for sound movies, but as of 1931, the momentum was still on the stage insofar as genuine, thought-provoking entertainment was concerned. Nonetheless, he recognized that Talkies were changing everything in Hollywood:
"To a regular cinemagoer in the era of silent films, attendance at the motion-picture playhouse today is a continuously disturbing experience...The discovery that the shadowy images of the screen could be made articulate was as fruitful for exploitation to the captains of the cinema industry as was the realization that women would wear long skirts to the couturiers. ...Paramount alone has already announced 243 releases for next season, double the number issued this year, and other companies are following suit."
Click here to read articles about Marilyn Monroe.
There can be no doubt that at some point between the appearance of this brief notice and the release of "Gone with the Wind", culture critic Gilbert Seldes (1893 - 1970) was won-over to the side that believed sound-movies were the way to go- but in 1929, he wasn't buy'n it.
*Watch a Film Clip About the Revolution of Sound in Movies*