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When the Talkies Were Young (1955)

Approved  |   |  Short, History  |  29 April 1955 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 76 users  
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Warner Brothers looks back to the early days of talking pictures. Dwight Weist narrates film clips from five movies: "Sinner's Holiday," introducing James Cagney with a glimpse of Joan ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Dwight Weist ...


Warner Brothers looks back to the early days of talking pictures. Dwight Weist narrates film clips from five movies: "Sinner's Holiday," introducing James Cagney with a glimpse of Joan Blondell, "20,000 Years in Sing Sing," with a young Spencer Tracy and a younger Bette Davis, "Five Star Final," with Edward G. Robinson and a cameo from Boris Karloff, "Night Nurse," starring Barbara Stanwyck with a small role for Clark Gable, and "Svengali," with John Barrymore and Marian Marsh. Each movie is summarized and each star celebrated for work early in the history of sound cinema. Written by <>

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Release Date:

29 April 1955 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


[last lines]
Narrator: The heart of Svengali, only mortal after all, gives out. And as he dies, the voice of Trilby is still forever in this poignant moment from the days when the Talkies were young.
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References The Jazz Singer (1927) See more »


Dancing with the Daffodils
Music by Jack Little
Played during the clip from Night Nurse (1931)
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User Reviews

Not even close to being complete or worth your time.
22 January 2010 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This short film was produced and written by Robert Youngson--a man who gained notoriety with his compilations of the early history of film comedies--such as THE GOLDEN AGE OF COMEDY and WHEN COMEDY WAS KING. Each of these films consisted of silent clips that were accompanied by narration.

This film is different from Youngson's more famous compilations because comedy is NOT the theme. Instead, it's about early sound films--with a particular emphasis on the early films of the major Warner Brothers stars of the 1930s. The film was NOT a chronological or exhaustive history of such films, but was more designed to feature current stars (as of 1955). A lot of actors whose careers had ended years before were pretty much ignored--and it was, in many ways, an ad for Warner Brothers films. Featured actors are Jimmy Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Edward G. Robinson and others.

Because the film is not a perfect or complete history of early sound stars, it's interesting but not all that important. Film experts will be left wondering why some actors were ignored while others were featured. Of all the extras included on the second of three DVDs in "The Jazz Singer" set, this is by far the weakest and least interesting.

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