On the Vitaphone: 1928-1930

“The dumb drama has found its tongue. The warmth of living voices has been brought to a silversheet long silent. . . . Trite as it may sound, it looks as if the cinema is entering a new sphere of usefulness.-Los Angeles Times, 1926

Such went the typical praise surrounding the premiere of Vitaphone technology, a method of syncing recorded sound to film via sixteen-inch shellac discs. Film critics were astounded that vocal and musical reproductions could sound so “natural” or so “real.” However, the idea of synchronized sound, with both the image and the voice seemingly originating from the same source, had long captured the imagination of movie audiences and producers alike. Vitaphone technology developed from a collaboration between Warner Bros., Bell Laboratories, and Western Electric. This was not the first time that synchronized sound technology had been attempted. However, Vitaphone technology was developed during a time when there were vast improvements in electronic amplification, which allowed the audio to be heard clearly throughout the theater. Because of this, Vitaphone films gained tremendous popularity, particularly the shorts produced from 1926 to 1931 by Warner Bros. featuring the top talent of the day.

Hollywood Bound with Gladys Brockwell, Neely Edwards, James Bradbury Vitaphone #2235, 1928, 9 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

Carlena Diamond “Harpist Supreme”Vitaphone #864, 1929, 6 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

Born and Lawrence “The Country Gentlemen” Vitaphone # 2885, 1928, 7 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

Niagara Falls with Bryant Washburn, Helen Jerome Eddy Vitaphone #3778, 1930, 11 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

Harry Fox and His Six American Beauties Vitaphone # 828, 1929, 12 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

Frank Whitman “That Surprising Fiddler” Vitaphone #703, 1929, 7 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

What A Life with Virginia Sale, Sid Silvers, William Irving Vitaphone #3849, 1930, 11 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

The Wild Westerner with Val Harris, Ann Howe Vitaphone #2759, 1928, 8 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

I Thank You with Eddie White Vitaphone #2689, 1928, 9 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

Sharps and Flats with Jimmy Conlin, Myrtle Glass Vitaphone #2577, 1928, 9 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.

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