Fall 2015

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66 CINEMONTAGE / FALL 2015 by Betsy A. McLane Images courtesy of A Century of Sound. All rights reserved H ave you seen Laurel and Hardy do exactly the same skit in both a silent and a sound version? Was it actually the quality of John Gilbert's voice that doomed his career in the talkies? What beloved classic movie used Fantasound? Why did editors resist changing from optical to magnetic sound? Do you know the reason Alfred Newman's opening musical fanfare for 20th Century-Fox suddenly got longer? And most importantly, can you explain why "push-pull" was perhaps the most important sound technology invented during Hollywood's Golden Era? All these answers and much more knowledge can be found in A Century of Sound, a two- volume, multi-DVD/Blu-ray collection that takes the viewer/listener on a journey through the history of motion picture sound, from its beginnings in the 19th century through 1975. A third volume, continuing the saga of cinema sound to the present, will follow in the near future. To say that this is a thorough and meticulous project is a vast understatement, and even if one thinks one knows film sound, there are revelations galore in store here, thanks to the formidably knowledgeable Robert Gitt, who wrote, produced and directed this vast undertaking. Gitt, who retired after almost four decades of service as preservation officer at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, was partnered in this endeavor with Robert Heiber, recently retired president Celebrating a Sonic Centennial EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT THE HISTORY OF CINEMA SOUND Two advertisements, circa 1940, demonstrate the rivalry and competition between Western Electric, left, and RCA — both eager to sell and service equipment to US movie theatres.

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