The First Hollywood Sound Shorts, 1926-1931
Edwin M. Bradley
The transition from silent to sound films is a fascinating time in the history of mass entertainment. In the audiences’ eyes, the halting, stagebound earliest “talkies” paled in comparison to the fluid, lyrical silents they replaced. Within a few years the technology improved, allowing filmmakers to produce pictures with the added benefits of dialogue, song and sound. However, that five-year period was long enough for careers to have ripened or been ruined and for studio fortunes to have been made or lost.
This study of early sound shorts begins with an explanation of the development of sound motion pictures in Hollywood by such influential companies as Warner Bros. and Fox, with an emphasis on short subjects, leading up to the first few months when all of the major studios were capable of producing them. The next chapters discuss the impact on other mass entertainments, the development of audible news reels and other non-fiction shorts, as well as the origins of animated sound subjects. A comprehensive list of pre-1932 American-made shorts completes the volume. These shorts are organized by studio and type, but for readers starting from scratch, there is an extensive index of film titles and people.