“The talking, instead of enhancing the picture, simply annoys,” Variety wrote after one demonstration in Chicago. “The general verdict was that the Edison pictures are an out-and-out flop.” In the wake of these failures, it became conventional industry wisdom to say that sound movies were an idea whose time would probably never arrive. Griffith himself, who had experimented with sound sequences in his 1921 film Dream Street, certainly thought so. “It will never be possible to synchronize the voice with the pictures,” he wrote in 1924. “I am quite positive that when a century has passed, all thought of our so-called speaking pictures “Instead of making the movies more real,” sound dialogue “makes them less real,” the old Hollywood journalist Henry Carr insisted. “The voice accentuates a fact that we sometimes forget—that movie characters are flat shadows on the wall.” Carr also predicted that many “lovely girls” and “handsome sheiks” of the screen would never make the transition to talkies. “In real life,” he wrote, “some of them talk like sick peacocks.” Many industry executives also worried that the language barrier created by sound would kill the foreign market for American films. Silent movies, after all, could easily be shown abroad by simply replacing the English-language intertitles, at very little additional cost to the studio. And switching to sound would require an enormous capital investment in new equipment by both the studios These obstacles, combined with the fact that Hollywood was making plenty of money with the status quo of making silent films, led many executives to insist that, as MGM’s Irving Thalberg said to his wife one evening in 1927, “sound is a passing fancy. It won’t last.” Krist, Gary. The Mirage Factory (p. 239). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition. Krist, Gary. The Mirage Factory (p. 238). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition. Krist, Gary. The Mirage Factory (p. 236). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

— adding sound to film  

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