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1929 SAW BIRT
PUBLIX OPINION, WEEK OF JANUARY 3rp, 1930
SCREEN TOOK 1 ST PLACE INWIDE REVOLUTION OF AMUSEMENT INDUSTRY
The year 1929 brought about the genesis of a new show world. The most revolutionary rennaissance that music, art and industry have ever known took place during that twelve-month
The theater, an institution as old as the ages, finds itself relegated to a position of second importance.
In first place flashes the screen, confident almost to the point of arrogance, lusty in voice, proud of a popularity it never knew before.
Step by step with it strides electrical science, playing a stirring march tune through mammoth hidden trumpets that blare of new accomplishments, new changes, to come.
While 1929 was a year of great and many readjustments for the motion picture’ industry at the same time it was a year when stabilizing influences were at work.
Highteen months ago a _ bewildered Hollywood frantically was trying to find out just where it stood. Almost overnight the talking screen had won the public’s favor and the majority of studios in the film city were wholly unprepared to meet that new demand. ;
Six months later the tools to work ‘with were in hand.
Now, after a year, those hands are trained.
During the past two years, according to a recent statement by Will H. Hays, spokesman for the
This stock style still, sent out by Arch Reeve, gave Bob Kelley of the Metropolitan Theatre, Houston, a basis for a tie-up with the Alaskan Fur Co. The photo of Helen Kane in_an ermine wrap was used in a Sunday rotogravure ad, 5,000 heralds of the same were distributed by the company, and a special window display was arranged.
Have much in common! Helen Boop-Boop-A-Doops her way to fame and fortune in a luxurious evening wrap of White Ermine, perfectly framing her piquant beauty. ALASKAN FUR COMPANY, through a long record of dependable service has won it’s way to a pre-eminent position as Houston’s headquarters of fur fashions— gorgeous coats for Milady—Alluring Fur pieces to set off the most brillant costume in a
blaze of Glory!
Miss Kane as she appears in “POINTED HEELS,” the
Third Anniversary Screen Attraction, wearing a White Ermine wrap created especially for Houston’s Smart Set.
industry, the film studios and theaters have added $500,000,000 to their capital investment to meet the challenge that sound pictures offered.
During 1929, again according to Hays, the weekly aggregate motion picture audience in the United States was increased by 10,000,000 persons. How many of those were patrons taken from “flesh and blood’’ theaters is a figure not available. :
It is significant of the year, however, that this paragraph appeared in an article in a June issue of America’s most sedate and cautious weekly journal. The article was by Wesley Stout. It coneerned the present and the future of the talking screen.
Mr. Stout wrote:
“The silent picture will be as dead as the souvenir teaspoon before a very long time. The addition of speech, music and sound effects to moving pictures has expended their entertainment and artistic possibilities beyond anything the most farsighted can see today.
“Having gone this far, we burn the remaining bridge and add an excessively rash prophecy: Very probably the stage, musical, vaudeville and legitimate—oh, yes, legitimate!— will not survive the new competition long.”
Such a year was 1929!
_B. P. Schulberg, long identified with the motion picture industry and one of its foremost production executives, being general manager of production of Paramount’s west coast studios in Hollywood, was asked to sum up his opinion of what the year had brought. He said:
“The year 1929 has given the motion picture the greatest value for its entertainment dollar it has ever known. The biggest bargain available in any community today is to be found at the box-office of the local picture theater.”
When modern talking films sprang inte being there was an immediate rush ‘by Hollywood's producers to enlist the aid and talents of stage-trained actors, directors and writers.
The beginning of 1929 found hundreds of such people resident in the film city. Those who did not have jobs in ‘‘the talkies” were demanding them. Film extras, bit players, scenarists, and foremost stars and directors as well, were all wondering what was to become of them. Oblivion was supposed to be just around the corner for the film folk.
The contrary proved true.
Today there are far fewer stage people in Hollywood than there were six months ago; several hundred less than there were a year ago.
Declining personalities of the screen have come back with a bang. The year. 1929 brought them new life, new hopes. Notable among these are Bessie Love, Warner Baxter, Betty Compson, Polly Moran, and others.
It was early in the year that
TEASERS SELL ‘DRUMMOND’
Dave Lipton waged this successful teaser campaign in. Chicago on “Bulldog Drummond.” Fifteen thousand special automobile hangers, shown below on the right, were distributed in a mile area surround: ing the Paradise, Uptown and Rivoli Theatres. Two hundred special two sheets with “warning” copy were posted around town, kept separate as much as possible from other theatre paper.
| ‘BULLDOG DRUMMOND’
_ Ronald Colman
film makers and film players made the happy discovery that the microphones added no mystery; that stage training was far from vital for success on the talking screen.
Clara Bow, never on the stage in her life, and the most popular star of the silent screen, won new popularity by her work in her first all-talking film, ‘‘The Wild Party,” and from subsequent 1929 productions.
Nancy Carroll was another who found 1929 a kind year. It, because of her work in talking vehicles, made her a star. The same is true for ‘‘Buddy” Rogers, Richard Arlen, Gary Cooper.and many other young players under contract to the various studios.
Two Men Direct
In the sound-film confusion of early 1929 many studios were assigning two men to direct a picture; one with stage training, the second a man experienced in film making.
Paramount did this in two notable instances. Together Edward Sutherland, a film man, and John Cromwell, a stage product, directed “Buddy” Rogers and Nancy Carroll in ‘Close Harmony.” Again they were teamed to direct “The Dance of Life,’ from the play ‘Burlesque.’ Both pictures deserved and received high praise.
But as successful have been Sutherland and Cromwell with their individual efforts. Sutherland’s most recent pictures, done ‘on his own’’ have been ‘Fast Company,’ ‘Pointed Heels” and “Burning Up,” while Cromwell is the man responsible for the great suecess of George Bancroft’s most recent starring picture, ‘“‘The Mighty.”
That, 1929 accomplished. It proved to . Hollywood’s film makers that a good director is a good director, whether from Broadway or the boulevard.
Another great advancement that the year made came in the field of sound recording itself; the matter-of-fact scientific side of film making. Sound engineers,
bolstering up their courage, left the sound-proof studio stages and went out-of-doors to. do their work.
“The Virginian,’ filmed almost entirely on the open range, not only was the outstanding box-office surprise of the year; it also was voted by recording experts to be the finest job of sound recording up to the date of its release. “The Virginian,’ as another of
its contributions to 1929, likewise marked the return to favor of that great motion picture staple, the western drama, of which Jesse L. Lasky recently promised more to come.
All Negro Comedies
The year just closing brought about one interesting fact, namely that a series of all-Negro comedies, filmed by the Christie Studios from Octavus Roy Cohen stories, were triumphs: of popularity in the short feature field. The success of these resulted in the production of racial dramas of features length.
The music publishing business, because of the demands of alltalking films, passed through a little revolution of its own in 1929. Music became of more importance to the screen than it ever had to the dramatic stage, and the abrupt demand for musical comedy pictures and film musicals such as “The Love’ Parade’’ caused every song writer of note to renounce Broadway in favor of the cinematic west.
One reason for this is to be found in the fact that the world’s greatest song boosters are now facing the camer?és instead of the footlights. Maurice Chevalier, song idol of Paris, quickly has become an international figure instead. Al Jolson is another. In still another branch of the song art is Dennis King, greatest romantic figure Broadway ever knew, who came to Hollywood to sing his classics role in the naturalcolor filmversion of “The Vagabond King.’’ No wonder the
NEW SHOW WORLD
‘SWEETIE’ FIRST HOLD OVER AT MICHIGAN
“Sweetie” was the first picture
in the history of the Michigan (5,000 seat house) to overthrow this Detroit theatre’s one-weekrun policy and go for two weeks.
Publix-Kunsky theatres practically ‘‘took over’? the ‘“‘Sweetest Day’ put on by the National Candy Manufacturers Association, turning it into a “SWEETIE DAY” with pictures and window streamers in local confectionery stores and sweet shops.
“Sweetest Day’? parties were given to Detroit orphans at the theatre. Del Delbridge, M. C. at the Michigan and others visited Leland School for Crippled children, distributing candy supplied by local sweet shop. News space and pictures resulted from these punches.
Records and music were naturals. Three sheet pastels from the theatre lobby found a welcome with leading music and record shops. Four stores used entire windows. Victor record dealers, in particular, went heavy for Helen Kane.
“Sweetie Night’ at Graystone Ballroom, Jean Goldkette’s place, resulted in wide-open break. Talking trailer of ‘‘Sweetie’’ with plug for picture at Michigan was used on special talking screen in ballroom twice nightly for seven days in advance.
Theatre gave five single passes to “Sweetie,” ten autographed photos of Nancy Carroll as prizes, awarded for lucky ‘‘Sweetie”’ numbers. Mary Lee Candy Co., gave thirty pounds chocolates for free publicity.
song writers came West!
As the film industry learned to use the $500,000,000 worth of new tools that 1929 demanded, it also learned ‘its best source of material for the goods those tools should fashion.
Stage plays were tried and almost generally discarded as suitable talking screen material. Now by. far the greatest majority of Hollywood’s pictures are. being made from scripts written in the studios themselves by staff scenarists and dialogue experts.
In this connection one of the interesting developments of the year is the ease with which wellknown writers of short magazine fiction have adapted themselves to the requirements of dialogue scripts. William Slavens McNutt, even then a famous fictionist, came to Hollywood as a scenarist and failed to find the town agreeable. Now, when words are so important to the screen, he is busy and happy. One of his most recent dialogue scripts was for the Nancy Carroll starring picture, “Mesh of Eve,’? on which he worked with Grover Jones, a veteran writer of screen stories. “Plesh of Eve’ was outstanding for the brilliance and daring simplicity of the words its characters spoke.
A year ago, Hollywood did not quite know what it was all about. Too much was happening. Today, Hollywood is confident of the future, alert to the times, ready for any and all new developments that may come. In fact, Hollywood is inviting them. steps have been taken toward the day when a wider sound screen will bring true color and a true perspective to a new show world
audience that already is getting .
more for its money than it ever did before in the history of the show business.