You ain't heard nothin' yet

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It was 79 years ago today, on October 6, 1927, that Warner Brothers released The Jazz Singer. It was, famously, the first "talking picture" -- featuring about ten minutes of dialogue, much of it improvised -- and while it enjoyed only middling returns at the box office, it marked a revolution (and many said at the time, a step backward) in the way films were made.

Though sync-sound dialogue was initially considered by many to be a passing fad (as innovations like 3D and Cinerama proved to be in later years), and masters of silent filmmaking technique like F.W. Murnau and King Vidor, whose stylish camera movements would be stifled by the bulky sound-proofing that sync-sound filming required be placed around the camera, certainly wished it were a fad that would pass, sync-sound wasn't about to go gently into that good night.

Though the transition from silents to talkies wouldn't take place overnight -- the last silent studio picture was released in 1935 -- after Jazz Singer, the handwriting was on the wall. Happy birthday, talkies!

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October 6, 2006 - 9:38am
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