Friday, December 28, 2007

Uptight Reviewer Faces the Future

I recently mentioned the joy of watching the "talking pictures" creep up on The New Yorker's stodgy film reviewer ("Bergman"). Just three weeks before the below article, the reviewer had been poo-poo'ing talkies.

Now (July 14, 1928), "The Lights of New York" has arrived and Bergman is eating crow (while simultaneously being a bit poo-poo-ey in the process):
At the Strand is "The Lights of New York," the first one-hundred-per-cent talker. Conversation, action, and plot are all very poor, but you will find it interesting as a museum piece. It would have been better silent, and much better unseen. The talking films have not even progressed to their infancy yet. Bad as it is, though, the film shows what I have been very reluctant to believe, that audibility will be a great help to the movies.
Reading these magazines sixty years after the fact is occasionally like watching a blind man stepping into traffic*, though other small articles are noting the shockwave that was about to hit Hollywood (studios rushing to implement sound, actors rushing to elocution lessons).

I'd like to point you in the direction of a good scholarly resource about this topic, but instead I'll direct you to "Singin' In the Rain." Seriously.

* What's the next runaway bus, speeding towards the 1920s blind pedestrian? I guess that would be "Black Tuesday" fifteen months from where I currently am in the magazine's history.

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