Moving Picture Exhibitors' Association.

Photoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) online

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dumb and I guess I will have to gi\e up the
movies (talkies) now. ".Vctions speak louder
than words," but you can't guess it all.

Helen C. Clemons.

Movies Teach How lo Write

University of Oregon,

Department of I^nglish,

Eugene, Oregon.

I have been trying to teach college juniors
and seniors how to write the English language.

One day I asked them to review a current
film. And I discovered this: They all did
remarkably well, considering their past efforts.

They saw life through the medium of the
pictures. It «as not a perfect way for them
to see it, but I found in time, the ideas that
ihey gleaned from the screen broadened and
deepened until they began to be interested in
life itself, with its moral, and social, and
economic problems. Finally I learned too,
that these students as a whole were beginning
to demand of life the things they demanded
from their movie entertainment; honesty, and
beauty, and at least a semblance of truth.
Margaret Clarke.

Maybe He's Also a Ventriloquist

Tulsa, Okla.
I personally am in favor of the Silent Drama.
Although an actor is able to change his make-
up, his dress and his mannerisms, he is never
able to change his voice. Lon Chaney may be
"The Man of a Thousand Faces," but with
movietone he is merely the man of one voice.

L. J. N.
( please turn to page 125 ]




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Photoplay Magazine — Advertising Section



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That Awkw^ard Length



[ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 43 ]




The old-fashioned bob is good enough for Lois Moran. For

sports she wears her hair almost straight. For less informal

occasions she waves it a little around her face, and for evening

wear she curls it in charming ringlets all over her head



Xothing about feminine Hollj'wood is ever
romplete without some mention of the Garbo.
An expert once said, "Garbo doesn't dress her
hair, she just wears it." No matter, she
achieves something interesting. At the
moment it is being drawn tiglit and straight
off her forehead and ears and curled loosely
at the back.

But I won't go on record as saj-ing that
she'll be wearing it the same way ne.xt month
— or next week.

JIany of the stars prefer their hair long for
personal wear, but must bob for picture pur-
poses. This was the case with Fay Wray, who
wept (but not with delight) when her long hair
was closely cropped for a new iilm with George
Bancroft.

But who would not choose to sacrifice even
one of her most appeaUng expressions of



personality to gain favor with the multitude
of mo%ie fans? And sacrifice it might have
been justly considered in that era, ending
not so many years ago, when but one accepted
style of coiffure could prevail at a given time,
to which all must conform regardless of in-
dividual possibilities.

In this "individual" age of ours when we
may, if we wish, adapt our style of hair dress
to every hour and every mood, certain barbers,
like certain stars, may have to leave town
for lack of work. But there will always be
enough shorn maidens to keep many of the
clippers busy.

The general consensus of opinion is that
bobbed hair is not passe, nor is it likely to be,
and that both long and short hair is the vogue
now and fore\'er more, according to individual
taste and tjpe.



State




Loretta 'ifoung's hair has grown long enough to coil in a soft,
flat knot at the back of her neck. For informal wear she some-
times lets it hang in little girl fashion. Not recommended
unless the hair is waved or naturally curly, and unless you are
as youthful as Loretta

Every advertisement In PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE 19 guaranteed.



Photoplay Magazine — Advertising Section



Trials of the Talkies



[ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 53 ]

became noisy. And while they were getting
their osculatory re-education, the operators nf
the "mixing" panel coined the words "squish "
and "squack." The staccato kiss makes an
audible concussion in the record and therefore
is called the "squack."

Most of the Hollywood actors and actresses
already kissed silently when the talkies came
in, due to their silent drama training, but the
newcomers from the stage usually put a lot
sound into it. The "strong, silent kiss," im-
planted by a "strong, silent man," Lewis
Stone, upon Greta Garbo's lips, was demon-
strated for a class of novices as the one which
gives the studio mechanical experts the least
trouble from an electrical standpoint.

ATHOUS.\XD and one adjustments have
been necessary to accommodate screen
technique to the talkie. One difficulty was
found in the heels of the feminine stars' evening
slippers, whichare not easytoequip withrubbcr
tips. The patter of the film star's dainty foot
reproduces like the clank of a cavalry horse's
iron-shod hoofs on a cobble-stone pavement, so
the Central Casting Bureau opened negotia-
tions with several rubber companies to find a
suitable tip for the heels of stars and extras in
the "soup and fish" and evening gown se-
quences.

"Mike's" ears are so sensitive that even
some of the so-called sound stages do not ex-
clude the noises of the 'eavy 'orses that 'ammer,
'ammer on the 'ard 'ighways in the \icinity of
the Hollywood studios as they haul garbage
and trash wagons from place to place.

Follomng several complaints by production
super\-isors, the kindly board of public works
of the City of Los Angeles, of which the film
capital is a part, equipped its garbage wagon
horses with figurative balloon tires; that is, the
iron shoes were replaced with rubber ones.
Thus joy was brought into the drab existence
of Tom, Dick and Harry through the movies,
for they now do their day's work happily and
noiselessly, bounding along at a pleasing clip
with no corns, bunions or calluses to hinder or
to hurt.

"Jlay the rubber never lose its bound,"
chorused the talkie directors, and that also
is the sentiment of the most citified residents of
Hollywood, whose sleep frequently was dis-
turbed by the prancing garbage wagon horses.

One day Monta Bell was picturing a se-
quence with sound in which one of the male
actors had the "business" of putting on his
overcoat. Everything worked beautifully in
the reproduction until it reached the point
where the actor slipped his left arm into the
sleeve of his garment, and then there was
heard something akin to the noise made by a
uind machine going at full pressure.

IT a glass is put down upon a table it sounds
-'-from the screen as if someone had struck the
table with a wooden mallet. That is why the
shining surface of a perfectly normal mahogany
desk or table, if it is to be used in a talkie set, is
covered with a layer of mahogany-varnished
felt. This, for camera purposes, looks like the
original wood, but makes a world of difference
to the microphone.

All "props" put on the stages where dialogue
or music is being recorded must be subjected
to the microphone test, and if they prove
"noisy" or sound reflecting are treated in the
studio workshops to remo\'e the trouble.

Even such a simple action as dropping a
couple of lumps of sugar into a cup of coffee has
to be modified, or the character can't take
sugar. Harmless, little white lumps of sugar in
their numbers sound like a sector of the war
zone in action when the "stepped up" repro-
duction is heard in the theater. And the dunk-
ing of a doughnut in the coffee will give the




Es/e/le Taylor, Lon Chaney and Lloyd Hughes in the

thrilling steamer scene in Metro- Goldwyn - Mayer s

recent sensation, "Where East is East"

At right— Estelle Taylor applying Boncilla clasmic pack

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As Beauties Do

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189



When you wiile to advertisers please mention PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE.




Photoplay Magazine — Advertising Section



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effect of Annette Kellerman performing a high
dive.

Every sound is so greatly magnified that
absolute silence is necessary for the sound film.
A pair of dainty sUk bloomers worn by one of
the stars nearly caused havoc on one of the
sound stages. James Gleason, directing, had to
ask a certain petite young lady what she was
wearing, for silk crackled so loudly that it
interfered with the picture. The star blushing-
ly gave a list of her underpinnings and was re-
quested to remove the offending bloomers.

Of course, to a reasonable degree, the sound
of bangles and bells of a group of Nautch
dancers, the crackle of starched petticoats of
bygone days in period pictures, the rustle of
crisp taffeta that heralds the approach of a
New England spinster, the squeak of a detec-
tive's shoes, all have their place in the audible
picture, but they are the exception and not the
rule. They are permitted, in subdued form,
only where such sounds will add color or
atmosphere to the action.

ALMOST alarming discoveries have been
made in the tests of the rustle of silk, the
slither of satin, the clink of bracelets, the swish
of beaded fringe and other "gossip of gar-
ments" that in the past have been seen but
not heard. The subject of sound and clothes
at first was looked upon as being somewhat
facetious.

One of the tests was made with a costume
worn by Gloria Swanson in an old picture. It
consisted chiefly of strands and garlands of
pearls. The sound that came from the screen
when this gown was worn by the player re-
minded the experts of a terrific Indiana hail-
storm. Dorothy Dwan wearing an Indian
costume in "The Devil Bear" had to change
into an unsophisticated village girl dress be-
cause of the click of the beads on the Indian
garment.

The costume director has to be sure that the
hero's shoes do not squeak. Many kinds of
boots and shoes which have a tendency to send
out squeaky vibrations have to be treated
chemically and given a coat of silencing com-
position. And it has been found safer, so far as
sound is concerned, to have the heroine faint
in crepe de chine instead of in taffeta, for the
term "loud clothes" no longer applies solely to
garments of pronounced design or unusual
combinations of vividly contrasting colors.

One of the Hollywood studios for a number
of years had been using a fabric known as
glazed tarlatan, which on the screen gives the
illusion and fragility of sun glass. In "A Kiss
for Cinderella" the sixteen bridesmaids were
clad in gowns of this material and it mattered
not in a soundless picture that their approach
was accompanied by a noise like that of an
Autumn storm, with falling leaves hissing in
the wind .

Imitation rubber jewelry has been developed
to replace the jingling bracelets, creaking
strands of pearls and other evidences of wealth,
so that when a dowager heavily laden with
these glittering ornaments engages in repartee
with another matron similarly bedecked, the
noise set up by their agitated jewelry %\ill not
drown out their words.



DURING the
f



filming of "Interference,"
Clive Brook and William Powell were
cautioned against carrying too much loose
change and too many keys and other metal
objects in their pockets. The chnk of coins
and keys is apt to reproduce like a regiment
of King .Arthur's Knights in full armor cross-
ing a drawbridge.

Even the clanking of swords had to be great-
ly modified by having the glistening weapons
made of rubber and painted to look real, and
likewise the familiar spurs of the cowboys in
the "horse operas." A wide variety of leather
accessories required to complete sartorial out-
fits in pictures of the soldier and Western types
also must be silenced.

Mary Nolan discovered that breaking
matches before the microphone produced a
sound like the crackle of musketry, and when



Claire Windsor clicked a cigarette lighter the
resultant tone was like that of a heavy blow.
Lupe Velez accidentally tore a piece of paper
while recording her delightful Mexican accent
and the result was a noise like the collapse of a
building in an earthquake.

Sound in movies has' brought a new style in
manicuring, for even the click of long nails, on a
nervous hand, records with a definite and mag-
nified clarity that is startUng. So the long,
pointed nail has given way to the short, oval
one that does not extend beyond the finger tip.

/^NXY recently a recording was marred by a
''-^mysterious clicking sound that puzzled the
director. It was afterward discovered that
an actor (one not even in the cast, but
merely watching the recording and filming of
the scene) had tapped his finger nails ner\'-
ously on a mahogany table top that had not
been treated with the felt coating.

This business of making whoopee before the
"mike" and the camera at the same time is
beset with so many difficulties that it makes
the producers' heads swim. Every day new
complications are discovered.

When Clara Bow turned the full force of the
Bow personality on the microphone and
shouted "Whoopee!" her first "line" in "The
Wild Party," the one word caused an electrical
crew an hour's work, the producers an hour's
delay and the studio the price of a set of deli-
cate sound tubes. The sensitive electrical
system could not stand the shock of Clara's
IT. But that was not all.

The picture is an all-talkie and there is much
dialogue. Whenever Clara began dialoguing,
the delicate little bulbs quivered and died.
The operators tried to locate the trouble, but
all they could do was to replace the bulbs.

Each time Clara talked the same thing hap-
pened. Any of the others could talk indefi-
nitely and nothing would happen. Butthepic-
ture was made in spite of these difficulties.

Further evidence of the delicacy of the
recording instruments was given in the filming
of "Interference" when Clive Brook slipped up
on his lines several times. The last occasion
annoyed him so much that he slapped his hand
against his leg. That slight concussion blew
out every tube in the recording machine, which
was attuned only to voices.

Then, too, slapping a fellow actor on the
back with a little too much realism is likely to
come back from the screen like a one-gun
salute from the U. S. S. Pennsylvania. Taking
a deep breath between lines sounds like a Buick
taking a hUl on high.

One Holly\vood director wasted about three
thousand dollars on a sneeze — and it was his
own, at that. The alert microphone regis-
tered the sneeze so vividly that a retaking of
about a thousand feet of film was necessary.
A cough in the midst of a love scene makes a
"villain" of the hero.

ANYTHING resembling hay fever, colds or
even the least suggestion of a sniffle is ab-
solutely taboo on the sound stage, for the mer-
ciless "mikes" seem to pick up even the sound
of a fly blinking its eyes. The director's costly
sneeze was responsible for the invention of the
simile :

"As welcome as hay fever on a sound-proof
stage."

William Powell originated this wise crack the
day after his first ex-perience in a talkie set,
while talking about bill collectors and book
agents. He was watching Evelyn Brent and
Doris Kenyon do a scene when he felt an un-
controllable desire to sneeze. Fortunately he
didn't happen to be working in that particular
sequence and was able to make his exit before
the nasal explosion came.

Another hazard is soup. Six husky broth-
sippers created such a mixture of melodious
tunes during a dinner scene in "The Broadway
Melody" that the voices of the principals
could not be distinguished. Casting directors
now demand well-bred extras, and when such
cannot be found they are fed bananas instead
of soup.



Every advertisement In PHOTOrL.W M.4GAZINE is guaranteed.



Photoplay Magazine — Advertising Section



115



Chester Conklin's walrus soup-strainer may
have to go, too, because the microphone does
not take kindly to mustaches. Voices of the
mustache and beard-wearing actors in the
talkies are less distinct than those of their
clean-shaven colleagues.

It must have been Conklin talking when a
certain producer ordered a retake of a sequence
because he couldn't hear the "k" in "Swim-
mink." Conklin's friends say this producer is
the one who stopped the production of "Lucia"
because he felt sure the censors would cut out
the se.xtette.

While directing Reginald Denny in "Red
Hot Speed," Eddie Cline was having consider-
able trouble with the "mikes" during the talk-
ing sequences. The electricians were unable
to locate a certain buzzing noise which made
it impossible to "shoot" the scene. Suddenly
Cline, who was becoming frantic, glanced at
the "mike," slapped it with a newspaper and
said:

" A LL right, boys, you can start now — two
-'•■flies were making love on the edge of
the 'mike.' "

Foreign noises were reported from the
"mbdng" panel during the taking of a love
scene between Maurice Chevalier and Sylvia
Beecher, and the studio sleuths finally traced
it to a loose board in the floor over which
Chevalier was walking. When the scene was
retaken, the electrician at the earphones, just
at the point where the offensi\-e sound had been
heard before, shouted jubilantly, "It's O. K.



Online LibraryMoving Picture Exhibitors' AssociationPhotoplay (Volume 36 – 37 (Jul. - Dec. 1929)) → online text (page 17 of 145)