Friday, March 20, 2009

Sound Pictures!

This "great new art" used by Paramount, Warner Brothers, Hal Roach, Columbia Pictures, Christie, Universal, United Artists, Harold Lloyd, Fox Movietone, and Metro Goldwyn Mayer, as pioneered by the world's leading makers of telephones, switchboards, cable, trans-Atlantic telephone equipment, telephoto machines, and public address systems?

Yes, it's "Sound Pictures" ("The Voice of Action") provided by Bell Telephone Laboratories and Western Electric. They were responsible for the Vitaphone and the Movietone, and they practically shove the reader into a cinema seat with their final paragraph.
The success of Sound Pictures is history now. Continuing progress is certain. Make sure of enjoying it. Go to the theatres showing these great producers' pictures with the sound equipment recognized as the world's standard.
(The New Yorker, June 8, 1929...a particularly good issue, by the way).


Anonymous said...

Wow - the marriage of motion picture and sound! It seems so quaint now, but I keep reminding myself that, back then, this was the state of the art!

I just wonder why the ad seems to give such a hard sell to something so revolutionary and (to me, anyway) appealing. Or are they competing against another brand of sound equipment?

I wonder how the poor piano players and orchestras must feel when reading these ads, knowing that their accompaniment to silent films is just at "The End".

Adam Thornton said...

I was wondering the same thing, Gary. I think they're hard-selling because they want to make sure that people know who was responsible for the's a good advertisement for Bell!

Plus the quality of the audio at that time was still pretty grim...have a look at the Marx Brothers' "Cocoanuts," which came out the same week this advertisemnt appeared.

There were competing technologies previously, but the Bell methods were far better, and by this time they'd replaced the others...and, as you said, started replacing the piano players and orchestras too. :)

Though it was common at the time for there to be stage shows in between the films, so I'm sure the musicians still got some work.