Dakota Datebook

Talkies

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

 

The joining of sound and picture had been in experimentation for many years before, but when the first well-known “talkie,” “The Jazz Singer,” was produced and shown in 1927, the movies were changed forever.

 

So in 1930, Walhalla was really keeping with the times when they installed talking equipment in their opera house. They installed a Marvel machine, which was known as “the perfect talking machine.” Helping with this perfection was the acoustics of the hall. The sound expert who installed the machinery stated that the theater had the best acoustics, out of the fifty-seven other theaters he had supplied with the same technology.

 

On this date, the opera house opened their doors for an “all-talking program consisting of sound news, a Vitaphone vaudeville act, and an all-talking comedy with the Vitaphone talking feature ‘The Hottentot,’” which was the latest, all-talking Vitaphone picture produced by Warner Bros. Other “big talking hits,” like “Broadway Melody,” starring Anita Page and Bessie Love, were to follow. All of the talking programs were a hit, “greeted with wild enthusiasm” among the spectators.

 

There was great excitement about this new technology, although it was not entirely new to the community. Sound had previously been installed at another theater, so Walhalla now had two with sound equipment, “both showing practically every other night.”

 

The Walhalla Mountaineer stated that “There is one thing that the people of this community do not lack and that is entertainment. …We doubt if another town of this size in the United States has such entertaining means.”

 

Residents of Walhalla and other communities embraced the early talking films, and studios worked to further develop the new way of making pictures. For, as stated by Charles Feldstead, a sound engineer at Universal Pictures, in 1931, “There can be no question in the minds of intelligent and discerning people that the talking motion picture has come to stay.”

 

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

 

Sources:

Charles Feldstead, Sound Engineer, Universal Pictures Corp.,

From Radio News, April 1931 http://web.archive.org/web/20050318084055/http://www.antiqueradios.com/movies.shtml

Walhalla Mountaineer, May 8, 1930

Walhalla Mountaineer, May 15, 1930

Walhalla Mountaineer, May 22, 1930

 

 

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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