Talkies

“Talkies” began to appear in movie theaters before the famous Al Jolson starred in The Jazz Singer in 1927. That was the first feature-length talkie, but Warner Brothers had produced some “shorts” in 1926 using the same Vitaphone sound system as used in The Jazz Singer. Audiences could now see and hear their favorite vaudeville headliners doing their acts on their local movie screen. This alarmed vaudeville bigwigs, who feared a loss of business. Why would people pay to see a live vaudeville show if they could see their favorite performers in a cheaper movie instead? After all, it cost theater owners less to rent a film than it did to pay vaudeville performers’ salaries. So vaudeville owners forbade their performers from appearing in any Vitaphone shorts. Of course, that didn’t–couldn’t–last long. Vaudeville’s decline was already in motion. Radio had a hand in its demise as well. Talkies were the coup de grace. My mystery series takes place in 1924 and 1925, when vaudeville was seeing its heyday, so I don’t have to deal with the battles that talkies brought about. Still, it’s interesting to know what lay around the corner for my fictional characters. 

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Published in: on April 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. They still kept making silent films into the late 1920’s, though.

    • Yes, they did. Actors like Charlie Chaplin and directors like Alfred Hitchcock and many others felt that silent movies were more artistic than talkies, and they continued for years.

  2. The talkies must have been quite shoking, both for performers and viewers.


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