Talking pictures : how they are made, how to appreciate them (c. 1937)

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Talking Pictures Then came the "store show." Usually, it was sim- ply a store with a few folding chairs. Early theatre operators, who were certain that "movies are just a passing fad," made no effort to keep their "theatres" either clean or comfortable. But here and there about the country were far- seeing men who looked ahead. Among these was a young Canadian, Louis B. Mayer, who had purchased a store show at Haverhill, Massachusetts. He cleaned it, installed comfortable seats, and offered as his open- ing picture From the Manger to the Cross, a religious film made in Italy and far more ambitious than any American product of that time. From vision of this sort came the modern motion picture theatre, well lighted, well furnished, a welcome aesthetic addition to a community. Credit belongs to D. W. Griffith for first proving that the public would accept long continued stories played by capable actors. His Birth of a Nation was a flame that set the whole cinema world ablaze. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille are credited with the creation of such routine photographic effects of today as the close-up, the flash back, and the backlight. These represent considerable advance over the drab, unre- lieved flat lighting of the very first pictures. DeMille tells an amusing story of his first attempt to get away from the use of "flat" lighting. He fash- ioned the first rude "spotlight" and, in a scene of War- rens of Virginia, he snowed for the first time an effect now familiar, a man with his face strongly lighted on one side, and heavy shadows on the other. The effect [18]