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What seemed just like Warner Bros. touting their pioneering of sound in movies 20 years earlier, suddenly developed into a wonderful enlightenment of the events of August 6, 1926. That was the night they released Don Juan (1926), the first feature film with a soundtrack. But other short films were shown that night, collectively called "Vitaphone Preludes," and a program distributed to the audience listing those films is shown, along with snippets of those films. First, Will H. Hays, president of the Motion Picture Producers Association (MPPA), gives a short speech of appreciation for the contribution of Warner Bros. for bringing sound to motion pictures. Then, in quick succession, the program reads, and we see parts of: "Overture from Tannhauser" played by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Mischa Elman in a violin solo playing "Gavotte," Roy Smeck playing a guitar solo, Marion Talley singing "Caro Nome" from "Rigoletto," Efram Zimbalist on violin and Harold Bauer on piano playing variations from Beethoven's "Kreutzer Sonata," Giovanni Martinelli singing "Vesti La Guibba" from "I Pagliacci" and Anna Case singing "La Fiesta." You can also read on the program some of the music credits for Don Juan (which are not on the print). I was filled with an awesome sense of film history. Some of these short films are already in the IMDb database. It would really be a treat if Turner Classic Movies would show the entire "Vitaphone Preludes" as a package.
Like the studio's previous short-The Voice That Thrilled the World-Warner Bros. basically tooted their own horn when recounting their contributions to the sound revolution of film with clips of both The Jazz Singer and Lights of New York being shown though this one had a different clip from the latter-the infamous one of a gangster mentioning to "take...him...for...a...ride..."! Then there's a demonstration of the sound recording of the tracks of their latest picture, Night and Day, that was very interesting to me. This was followed by clips of the studio's other recent films of which the one from The Big Sleep was the most interesting to me as I've yet to watch that one. After "The End" card was shown, the announcer then presented the feature presentation. On that note, Okay for Sound was a fine informational short.
I agree with Arthur Hausner--this is an exceptional film for film
history buffs. It's included on Disk 2 of the 3 disk set for "The Jazz
Singer". The extras on Disk 2 are particularly on the history of sound
film and its technology, while Disk 3 consists of early sound shorts.
OKAY FOR SOUND was made for the twentieth anniversary of the Vitaphone sound process. This system for synchronizing sound with film (using a complicated used of a specially designed record) was introduced in 1926 with the film DON JUAN. In OKAY FOR SOUND, the entire preliminary showcase of talking and musical shorts (which was shown before DON JUAN) is shown in a very truncated form--with small excepts from each short film. As for DON JUAN, it was not a talking picture but had the first recorded musical accompaniment that was perfectly synchronized with the film. Then, a short history of how sound was created for movies was recreated using actors followed by an explanation of the process. Following this are lots and lots of clips of Warner Brothers films--sort of like a big ad for the studio.
Overall, very informative--especially in the first portions. As for the clips of newer Warner films, this wasn't especially necessary.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Part of this short consists of musical snippets from the first commercially successful exercise in motion picture synchronized sound, a variety show of musical acts produced by Warner Brothers and shown to sell-out audiences at a large New York City theater in 1926. By far the stand-out piece is Giovanni Martinelli belting out the aria "Vesti la glubba" from Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera, Pagliacci. This performance could define the term "full voice." It is the sort of thing to which many guys singing in the shower aspire, and there is Martinelli up on the big screen (dressed in a sadly comical clown suit) conveying his emotions by nearly blowing his lungs out. While many of the other musical snippets shown here could imply that arts patrons of the 1920s had lower expectations in regard to standards of musical entertainment than what modern day people would demand, Martinelli's blast from the past passes the test for any age. This kind of makes a person wonder how many similarly gifted musicians of the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, etc. may be totally forgotten today because sound recording technology took so many centuries to get off the ground.
OK For Sound (1946)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Entertaining 20-minute documentary covering the 20th anniversary of sound films. This here starts off talking about the early history of cinema as the likes of Edison tried to mix images with sound but failed. We then get to the 1920s as we hear about where the technology was at this time and how it eventually developed into THE JAZZ SINGER. From here we see how every picture went to sound and then we get a demonstration of how it works on a film like NIGHT AND DAY. I think this short does a pretty good job at talking about the history of sound in motion pictures even though silent buffs might not like a couple of the jokes aimed at silent pictures. Of course, in 1946 silent films were looked at something rather old-fashioned and there's no way those people could have known that these silent pictures would be viewed in today's time.
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