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His Pastimes (1926)

Roy Smeck, "The Wizard of the String," plays guitar, ukulele, harmonica, and banjo to demonstrate the new Vitaphone sound-on-disc system.


Roy Smeck


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Cast overview:
Roy Smeck ... Himself


Roy Smeck (1900-1994) sits on a bench in a garden. He's wearing a bow tie, a white on white shirt, and a sweater. First he plays the guitar, which is lying across his lap - it's a steel guitar sound using a slide in his left hand. Next he picks up the ukulele for an up-tempo number. After a few choruses, he stops and adds a mouth organ, playing it while both hands continue to play the uke. He finishes with a piece on a four-string banjo. With all three instruments, he gets percussive as well as melodic effects. Roy smiles a lot but doesn't say or sing a word. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Short | Music







Release Date:

6 August 1926 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Roy Smeck, the Wizard of the String, in His Pastimes See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Vitaphone Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Recorded at the Manhattan Opera House in New York. See more »


Featured in The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk (2007) See more »


I Never Knew
Music by Ted Fio Rito
Performed by Roy Smeck on ukulele as part of a medley
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User Reviews

31 March 2009 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Roy Smeck, the Wizard of String, in His Primetime (1926)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

The name Roy Smeck might not be known today but he became known as "The Wizard of String" as he could play the banjo, steel guitar and the ukulele. With that said, I found this short to be extremely poorly made and so poorly so that it really takes away from the talent behind Smeck. From a historic point of view this short is very important as it was one of the earliest examples of the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. This film played on the same bill as the first feature to feature this new technology, DON JUAN, with John Barrymore. On that level I'd recommend people to watch this but it's rather aggravation in terms of entertainment. As is to be expected, the camera just stands still and the early sound recording leaves a lot to be desired. The film never really flows at any pace, which is another reason it doesn't work too well. I love catching these rare films on Turner Classic Movies but this one here is for film buffs only.

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