The Audience Laughed at the First Talkies (Film Spectator, 1930)
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
Rudy Vallee: 'Vagabond Lover' (Film Spectator, 1929)
It is not surprising to think that one of the first sound movies to be made had to consist of a plot that involved a musical number, and when put to the task of writing his review of VAGABOND LOVER (1929: RKO Pictures) the well respected film critic Welford Beaton dished-out some lukewarm opinions concerning it's star, crooner/teen-idol Rudy Vallee (1901 - 1986):
"The laddie's face is set in a sort of perpetual sorrow which, added to the fact that he seldom looks the camera in the eye, makes him seem like the wraith of some calamity walking through the scenes. Only the voice is virile..."
*Watch Rudy Vallee Croon in this 1929 Clip from 'Vagabond Lover'*
Talking Pictures Fail to Impress (Film Spectator, 1929)
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*
Howard Hughes Buys Multicolor (Film Spectator, 1930)
When the deep-pocketed film director Howard Hughes (1905 – 1976) decided to tint a few sequences from his film HELL'S ANGELS (1930) he purchased the company that he believed capable of filling such an order: Multicolor in Hollywood, California (as it turned out, the work was actually done by Technicolor). Hughes was such a curiosity to the press and they followed his every whim; in this article, critic Donald Beaton refers to Hughes as a pioneer and salutes him for experimenting with color.
Tiresome Will Hays (Film Spectator, 1929)
When the silent film era had run it's course and the "talkies" were growing in popularity, Hollywood's honeymoon with Will Hays was long over. In 1929 Hays' association with Harry Sinclair of the Consolidated Oil Corporation was called into question by a number of Washington Senators. In 1924, Hays, the man who's reputation was supposed to be beyond reproach, performed poorly before a Senate committee when asked to explain his 1920 roll as the go-between who collected a $75,000.00 donation from Sinclair in order to fill the coffers of the Republican National Committee. There were allegations of dubious gifts in exchange for this service and the Hollywood community, which has no difficulty generating it's own scandals and needed no help from Will Hays, thank you very much, began to grumble. Various assorted unkind remarks concerning Will Hays were printed in this short article that appeared in a long forgotten Hollywood trade publication.
Click here if you would like to read about Will Hays and his 1922 arrival in Hollywood.
If you would like to read about the films of the 1930s, click here.
Click here to read a 1939 article about an alumni organization for the pioneers of silent films.