Ludwig Blattner

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Ludwig Blattner
Born 1881
Germany
Died 30 October 1935
Elstree, United Kingdom
Occupation Producer, Inventor
Children Gerard, Elizabeth

Ludwig Blattner (1881–1935) was a German-born inventor, film producer and studio owner in the United Kingdom, and developer of one of the earliest sound recording devices.[1]

Career[edit]

Ludwig Blattner, also known as Louis Blattner,[2] was a pioneer of early magnetic sound recording, licensing a steel wire-based design from German inventor Dr. Kurt Stille, and enhancing it to use steel tape instead of wire, thereby creating an early form of tape recorder. This device was marketed as the Blattnerphone.[3]

Prior to the First World war Blattner was involved in the entertainment industry in Liverpool, then in about 1920 he moved to Manchester where he managed a chain of cinemas.[4] Later in the 1920s he bought the British film rights to Lion Feuchtwanger's novel Jew Süss although the film was not made until 1934 after Blattner sold on the rights[5] to Gaumont British. Blattner formed the Ludwig Blattner Picture Corporation in Borehamwood in the late 1920s in the studio complex that is now known as Elstree Studios, buying the Ideal Film Company studio (formerly known as Neptune Studios) in Clarendon Road in 1928, renaming it as Blattner Studios.[6] In 1928 his company produced a series of short films of musical performances such as "Albert Sandler and His Violin [Serenade - Schubert]" and "Teddy Brown and His Xylophone". The best known films produced by his film company were A Knight in London in 1929 and My Lucky Star in 1933, whilst other films produced at the Blattner Studios included Dorothy Gish and Charles Laughton's first drama talkie Wolves in 1930[7] and the 1934 adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Tell-Tale Heart.[8]

Ludwig Blattner was also involved in an early colour motion picture process: in about 1929 he bought the rights for the use outside the USA of a lenticular colour process called Keller-Dorian cinematography.[9] This process was then known as the Blattner Keller-Dorian process,[10] which lost out to rival colour systems.

Ludwig Blattner originally intended the Blattnerphone to be used as a system of recording and playback for talking pictures,[11] but the BBC saw its potential to record and "timeshift" BBC radio programmes for use with the BBC Empire Service, and rented several Blattnerphones from 1930 onwards.[12] In 1939 the BBC used a Blattnerphone (not the later Marconi-Stille recorder) to record Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's announcement to Britain of the outbreak of World War II.[13]

In 1931 Blatter promoted a version of the Blattnerphone as the Blattner Book Reader, an early Audiobook playback system for the blind.[14][15]

Business problems with the studio, due to the advent of rival talking picture systems, lead to heavy financial loss, and in 1934 Joe Rock leased Elstree Studios from Ludwig Blattner, and bought it outright in 1936, a year after Blattner's suicide.[16] After going through several more owners, the studio became the BBC Elstree Centre in 1984.

Personal life[edit]

Of German origin, Blattner moved to Great Britain in 1897 aged 16[17] and had two British-born children, Gerry Blattner born in 1913 in Liverpool,[18] and Betty Blattner born in 1914 in Cheshire.[19] They both followed their father into the film business, Gerry as a producer and Betty as a makeup artist.[20] Ludwig hanged himself at the Elstree Country Club in October 1935, and he and Gerry were honoured by the naming of Blattner Close in Elstree in the mid-1990s.[21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History, edited by William D. Rubinstein, Michael Jolles, Hilary L. Rubinstein - Google Books Palgrave Macmillan, 15 Mar 2011, ISBN 9781403939104
  2. ^ "Louis Blattner", BFI, retrieved 08 January 2014
  3. ^ "Blattnerphone", Orbem.co.uk, retrieved 25 December 2013
  4. ^ The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History - Google Books Palgrave Macmillan, 15 Mar 2011, ISBN 9781403939104
  5. ^ Jew Suss: His Life and Afterlife in Legend, Literature and Film, - Google Books - by Susan Tegel, Continuum Publishing, London, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4411-6297-7
  6. ^ British Film Studios: An Illustrated History - Patricia Warren - Google Books pub. Batsford Ltd, 5 Sep 1995. ISBN 978-0713475593
  7. ^ Wolves (1930) at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ The Tell-Tale Heart (1934) at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ "Encyclopedia of Modern Jewish Culture", edited by Glenda Abramson, -Google Books-, pub. Routledge, April 2013, ISBN 9781134428656
  10. ^ "Pathe International Corp. to Handle Color Films", Motion Picture News, Volume 39, Jan-Mar 1929, held at Internet Archive http://archive.org retrieved 27 January 2014
  11. ^ The Blattnerphone: An Early Attempt to Introduce Magnetic Recording into the Film Industry, William Lafferty, Cinema Journal Vol. 22, No. 4 (Summer, 1983), pp. 18-37, pub. University of Texas Press
  12. ^ Video Recording Technology: Its Impact on Media and Home Entertainment, Aaron Foisi Nmungwun - Google Books pub. Routledge, Nov. 2012. ISBN 9781136466045
  13. ^ "BBC donates historical collection to National Media Museum to mark 90th anniversary", BBC Media Centre, retrieved 5 February 2014
  14. ^ Ludwig Blattner Film Corp. LearnAboutMoviePosters.com (LAMP), retrieved 23 February 2014
  15. ^ The Museum Of Blindiana Official Opening New Beacon, Vol. XV. No. 175. July 15th, 1931, p.162, Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2012 from "American Foundation For The Blind inc." source, retrieved 23 February 2014
  16. ^ "Heavy financial loss", The Straits Times, Singapore, 9 November 1935, p.9. Retrieved 25 December 2013
  17. ^ "Louis Blattner", British Film Institute Film & TV Database, retrieved 10 February 2014
  18. ^ "Gerry Blattner", British Film Institute (BFI), retrieved 08 January 2014
  19. ^ "Elizabeth Blattner", BFI, retrieved 08 January 2014
  20. ^ "Betty Blattner", IMDB, retrieved 08 January 2014
  21. ^ "Dying to be famous", Paul Welsh, Borehamwood and Elstree Times, 6th June 2007, retrieved 08 January 2014
  22. ^ "Nicoll Farm Stables, Allum Lane, Elstree" planning application meeting report, application no. TP/13/0021, Nicoll Farm Stables. Hertsmere Borough Council, 18 April 2013

External links[edit]