Phonofilm

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Phonofilm is a optical sound-on-film system developed by inventors Lee de Forest and Theodore Case in the 1920s.

Introduction[edit]

In 1919 and 1920, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patents on a sound-on-film process, DeForest Phonofilm, which recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These parallel lines photographically recorded electrical waveforms from a microphone, which were translated back into sound waves when the movie was projected. Some sources say that DeForest improved on the work of Finnish inventor Eric Tigerstedt — who was granted German patent 309.536 on 28 July 1914 for his sound-on-film work — and on the Tri-Ergon process, patented in 1919 by German inventors Josef Engl, Hans Vogt, and Joseph Massole.[1]

The Phonofilm system, which recorded synchronized sound directly onto film, was used to record vaudeville acts, musical numbers, political speeches, and opera singers. The quality of Phonofilm was poor at first, improved somewhat in later years, but was never able to match the fidelity of sound-on-disc systems such as Vitaphone, or later sound-on-film systems such as RCA Photophone or Fox Movietone.

The films of DeForest were short films made primarily as demonstrations to try to interest major studios in Phonofilm. These films are particularly valuable to entertainment historians, as they include recordings of a wide variety of both well-known and less famous American vaudeville and British music hall acts which would otherwise have been forgotten. Some of the films, such as Flying Jenny Airplane, Barking Dog, and a film of DeForest himself explaining the Phonofilm system (all 1922) were experimental films to test the system.

Some of the people filmed included vaudevillians Joe Weber and Lew Fields, Eva Puck and Sammy White, Eddie Cantor, Ben Bernie, Oscar Levant, Phil Baker, Roy Smeck, jazz musicians Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, "all-girl" bandleader Helen Lewis, harmonicist Borrah Minnevitch, Nikita Balieff's company La Chauve-Souris, opera singers Eva Leoni, Abbie Mitchell, and Marie Rappold, Broadway stars Helen Menken and Fannie Ward, folklorist Charles Ross Taggart, copla singer Concha Piquer (first Spanish sound film), and politicians Calvin Coolidge, Robert La Follette, Al Smith, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Smith and Roosevelt were filmed during the 1924 Democratic National Convention, held June 24 to July 9 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Coolidge became the first U. S. President to appear in a sound motion picture when DeForest filmed him at the White House on 11 August 1924.

In November 1922, De Forest founded the De Forest Phonofilm Corporation with studios at 314 East 48th Street in New York City, and offices at 220 West 42nd Street in the Candler Building. However, DeForest was unable to interest any of the major Hollywood movie studios in his invention.[2]

All-text advertisement from the Strand Theater, giving dates, times, and performers' names. At the top, a tagline reads, "$10,000 reward paid to any person who finds a phonograph or similar device used in the phonofilms." The accompanying promotional text describes the slate of sound pictures as "the sensation of the century...Amazing! Astounding! Unbelievable".
Newspaper ad for Phonofilm shorts shown at the Strand Theatre in Biloxi, Mississippi (Biloxi Daily Herald, December 5, 1925)

Premiere of Phonofilm[edit]

From October 1921 to September 1922, DeForest lived in Berlin, meeting with the Tri-Ergon developers and investigating other European sound film systems. He announced to the press in April 1922 that he would soon have a workable sound-on-film system.[3]

On 12 March 1923, DeForest presented a demonstration of Phonofilm to the press.[4] On 12 April 1923, DeForest gave a private demonstration of the process to electrical engineers at the Engineering Society Building's Auditorium at 33 West 39th Street in New York City.[5]

On 15 April 1923, DeForest premiered 18 short films made in Phonofilm—presenting vaudeville acts, musical performers, opera, and ballet — at the Rivoli Theater at 1620 Broadway in New York City. The Rivoli's music director Hugo Riesenfeld co-hosted the presentation. The printed program for this presentation gave credit to the "DeForest-Case Patents". However, in a letter written to DeForest immediately after the event by Theodore Case, no credit was given to Case during DeForest's presentation. Case also states in the letter how displeased he is with DeForest crediting the "DeForest-Case Patents", as Phonofilm's success was fully due to the work of Case and his Case Research Lab.

DeForest later took his show on the road, pitching Phonofilm directly to the general public at a series of special engagements across the country. The shorts shown at one such demonstration (from an original program held by History San Jose, which holds DeForest's papers), date unknown but circa 1925, were as follows:

DeForest was forced to show these films in independent theaters such as the Rivoli, since Hollywood movie studios controlled all major U.S. movie theater chains at the time. De Forest's decision to film primarily short films (one reel), not feature films limited the appeal of his process.

All or part of the Paramount Pictures features Bella Donna (premiered 1 April 1923) and The Covered Wagon (premiered 16 March 1923) were filmed with Phonofilm as an experiment. (In the case of The Covered Wagon, Hugo Riesenfeld composed the music for the film.) However, the Phonofilm versions were only shown at the premiere engagements, also at the Rivoli. "Siegfried", the first part of the Fritz Lang film Die Nibelungen (1924) had a Phonofilm soundtrack, but only at the New York City premiere at the Century Theatre on 23 August 1925.[6][7][8]

One of the few two-reel films made by DeForest in the Phonofilm process was Love's Old Sweet Song (1923), starring Louis Wolheim, Donald Gallaher, and the 20-year-old Una Merkel. DeForest kept to one-reel films because he was unable to solve the problem of reel changes—and the disruption in sound which would occur—when a projectionist in a movie theater changed reels.

Development of Phonofilm[edit]

Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer used the Phonofilm process for their Song Car-Tunes series of cartoons—all featuring the "Follow the Bouncing Ball" gimmick—starting in May 1924. Of the 36 titles in the Song Car-Tunes series, 19 used Phonofilm. Also in 1924, the Fleischer brothers partnered with DeForest, Edwin Miles Fadiman, and Hugo Riesenfeld to form Red Seal Pictures Corporation, which owned 36 theaters on the East Coast, extending as far west as Cleveland, Ohio.

Red Seal Pictures and DeForest Phonofilm filed for bankruptcy in September 1926, and the Fleischers stopped releasing the Song Car-Tune films in Phonofilm shortly thereafter. Fleischer Studios later re-released some of these titles from 1929 to 1932 through Paramount Pictures, as part of a new series called Screen Songs with new soundtracks using the RCA Photophone sound-on-film process.

DeForest also worked with Theodore Case, using Case's patents to make the Phonofilm system workable. However, the two men had a falling out, shortly after DeForest filed suit in June 1923 against Freeman Harrison Owens, another former collaborator of DeForest's. Case later went to movie mogul William Fox of Fox Film Corporation, who bought Case's patents, the American rights to the German Tri-Ergon patents, and the work of Owens to create Fox Movietone.

DeForest's use of Case patents[edit]

Case's falling out with DeForest was due to DeForest taking full credit for the work of Case and Earl I. Sponable (1895–1977) at the Case Research Lab in Auburn, New York. To record on film, DeForest tried using a standard light bulb to expose amplified sound onto film. The bulbs quickly burned out, and, even while functioning, never produced a clear recording. To reproduce his nearly inaudible soundtracks, DeForest used a photocell that could not react quickly enough to the varying light coming to it as the soundtrack passed through the sound gate, resulting in an incomplete reproduction of sound from an inadequate recording—a dual failure. DeForest's attempts to record and reproduce sound failed at every turn until he used inventions provided by Case.

Having failed to create a workable sound-on-film system by 1921, DeForest contacted Case to inquire about using a Case Research Lab invention, the Thallofide (thallium oxysulfide) Cell, for reproducing the recorded sound. Case provided DeForest with that major upgrade and later provided him with another Case Research Lab creation, the AEO Light, to use for recording the soundtrack. Due to DeForest's continuing misuse of these inventions, the Case Research Lab proceeded to build its own camera. That camera was used by Case and Sponable to film President Coolidge on 11 August 1924, creating one of the films shown by DeForest and claimed by him to be the product of "his" inventions.

Seeing that DeForest was more concerned with his own fame and recognition than he was with actually creating a workable system of sound film, and because of DeForest's continuing attempts to downplay the contributions of the Case Research Lab in the creation of Phonofilm, Case severed his ties with DeForest in the fall of 1925. On 23 July 1926, William Fox of Fox Film Corporation bought Case's patents. Sponable and others in the Western Electric/Electrical Research Products Inc. (ERPI) consortium set the projection standard for sound film at 24 frames per second, making it impossible for Phonofilms to be projected on new sound projectors. (See the Fleischer cartoon Finding His Voice (1929) credited to Mr. W. E. Erpi.) The Library of Congress and other film archives have printed new copies of Phonofilms, allowing them to be projected on modern projectors.

Producer Pat Powers attempts takeover of Phonofilm[edit]

By 1926, DeForest gave up on trying to exploit the process—at least in the U.S. (see UK section below) -- and his company declared bankruptcy in September 1926. Without access to Case's inventions, DeForest was left with an incomplete system of sound film. Even so, producer Pat Powers invested in what remained of Phonofilm in the spring of 1927. DeForest was in financial difficulty due to his lawsuits against former associates Case and Owens. At this time, DeForest was selling cut-rate sound equipment to second-run movie theaters wanting to convert to sound on the cheap.

In June 1927, Powers made an unsuccessful takeover bid for DeForest's company. In the aftermath, Powers hired a former DeForest technician, William Garrity, to produce a cloned version of the Phonofilm system, which Powers dubbed Powers Cinephone. By now, DeForest was in too weak a financial position to mount a legal challenge against Powers for patent infringement. Powers convinced Walt Disney to use Cinephone for a few sound cartoons such as Steamboat Willie (1928) before Powers and Disney had a falling-out over money—and over Powers hiring away Disney animator Ub Iwerks -- in 1930. Cinephone continued to be used in low-budget Westerns through 1930, and in Disney's Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons—including Flowers and Trees and The Whoopee Party -- through 1932. (See list of Cinephone titles at IMDB in External Links below.)

Hollywood chooses other sound systems[edit]

While shunning Phonofilm, Hollywood studios introduced different systems for talkies. First up was the sound-on-disc process introduced by Warner Brothers as Vitaphone -- which used a record disc synchronized with the film for sound. Warner Brothers released the feature film Don Juan starring John Barrymore on 6 August 1926 in Vitaphone, with music and sound effects only.

On 6 October 1927, Warner Brothers released The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson in Vitaphone. The film is often incorrectly credited as the first talking picture. The Jazz Singer was the first feature film to use synchronized sound for talking sequences rather than just for music and sound effects, and thus launched the talkie era, but DeForest's sound-on-film system was in fact the basis for modern sound movies.

The Fox Movietone system was first demonstrated to the public at the Sam H. Harris Theatre in New York City on 21 January 1927, with a short film of Raquel Meller preceding the feature film What Price Glory?, originally released in November 1926.[9] Later in 1927, producer William Fox introduced sound-on-film with the feature film Sunrise by F. W. Murnau. In 1928, the sound-on-film process RCA Photophone was adopted by newly created studio RKO Radio Pictures and by Paramount Pictures.

Phonofilm in the UK[edit]

In 1926, the owner of a UK cinema chain, M. B. Schlesinger, acquired the UK rights to Phonofilm.[10] DeForest and Schlesinger filmed short films of British music hall performers such as Marie Lloyd Jr. and Billy Merson -- along with famous stage actors such as Sybil Thorndike and Bransby Williams performing excerpts of works by Shakespeare, Shaw, and Dickens -- from September 1926 to May 1929. (In July 1925, The Gentleman, a comedy short film excerpt of The 9 to 11 Revue, directed by William J. Elliott in Phonofilm, was the first sound-on-film production made in England.)

On 4 October 1926, Phonofilm made its UK premiere with a program of short films presented at the Empire Cinema in London, including a short film with Sidney Bernstein welcoming Phonofilm to the UK. According to the British Film Institute website, the UK division of DeForest Phonofilm was taken over in August 1928 by British Talking Pictures and its subsidiary, British Sound Film Productions, which was formed in September 1928.

In March 1929, a feature film The Clue of the New Pin, a part-talkie based on an Edgar Wallace novel, was trade-shown with The Crimson Circle, a German-UK coproduction which was also based on a Wallace novel. Crimson was filmed in DeForest Phonofilm, and Pin was made in British Phototone, a sound-on-disc process using 12-inch phonograph records synchronized with the film. However, the UK divisions of both Phonofilm and British Phototone soon closed.

The last films made in the UK in Phonofilm were released in early 1929, due to competition from Vitaphone, and sound-on-film systems such as Fox Movietone and RCA Photophone. The release of Alfred Hitchcock's sound feature film Blackmail in June 1929, made in RCA Photophone, sealed the fate of Phonofilm in the UK.

Phonofilm in Australia[edit]

In June 1925, Phonofilm opened its first Australian office at 129 Bathurst Street in Sydney. On 6 July 1925, the first program of Phonofilms in Australia were shown at the Piccadilly Theatre in Sydney. A program was also shown at the Prince Edward Theatre in November and December 1925.

On 6 April 1927, Minister for Trade Herbert Pratten appeared in a DeForest film to celebrate the opening of a Phonofilm studio in Rushcutters Bay in Sydney. On 12 May 1927, a Phonofilm of the Duke and Dutchess of York arriving at Farm Cove, New South Wales was shown at the Lyceum Theater in Sydney.[11]

Unfortunately, Phonofilm had to close all of its operations in Australia by October 1927, and sold its remaining studio facilities to an Australian company in October 1928.

Phonofilm in Spain[edit]

In 1928, Spanish producer Feliciano Manuel Vitores bought the Spanish rights to Phonofilm from DeForest and dubbed it "Fonofilm". He produced four films in the process, Cuando fui león (1928), En confesionario (1928), Va usted en punto con el banco (1928), and El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (1929). The first three were short films directed by Manuel Marín starring Spanish comedian Ramper, and the last was the first sound feature film made in Spain. The feature film was released in Spain by Divina Home Video in 2005, after years of being thought a lost film.

Phonofilm in Latin America[edit]

The Maurice Zouary collection at the Library of Congress holds approximately 45 films made in Phonofilm. A DVD produced by Zouary about the history of Phonofilm says that a short film of opera singers performing the Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor was made by the "Latin American division" of Phonofilm. No further information is known about this division of Phonofilm. In 1926, DeForest released a short film referred to as Cuban Sound Documentary which included the Cuban national anthem and excerpts from The Merry Widow. However, little else is known of this film or whether other Phonofilms were made in Cuba.

Legacy of Phonofilm[edit]

More than 200 short films were made in the Phonofilm process, with many preserved in the collections of the Library of Congress (45 titles) and the British Film Institute (98 titles). In 1976, five Phonofilm titles were discovered in a trunk in Australia, and these films have been restored by Australia's National Film and Sound Archive.

List of films produced in Phonofilm[edit]

1922 U.S. La Chauve-Souris program cover, with the famous "Wooden Soldiers" marching (left)
1922 U.S. sheet music
  1. A. C. Astor with Sentimental Mac (1928) ventriloquist Astor (d. April 7, 1966) with his dummy Sentimental Mac[12][13]
  2. Acci-Dental Treatment (1929) directed by Thomas Bentley with Ernie Lotinga as Jimmy Josser[14]
  3. The Actors' Squad (1927) short with Lawrence Anderson
  4. Abraham Lincoln (1924) portrayal of Lincoln by actor Frank McGlynn Sr. in excerpt of 1918 play by John Drinkwater
  5. Adolph Zukor Introduces Phonofilm (1923) for release of The Covered Wagon and Bella Donna, two Paramount Pictures feature films with soundtracks filmed in Phonofilm[15]
  6. Ag and Bert (1929) with Mabel Constanduros and Michael Hogan, directed by Bertram Phillips
  7. Ain't She Sweet (1928) with Chili Bouchier and Dick Henderson; see also Mark Griver and Pilbeam and His Band entries (below)
  8. Al Herman (1926) comedian Herman (1887-1967) performing a comedy sketch[16]
  9. Alexander's Ragtime Band (1926) Fleischer cartoon**
  10. Alma Barnes the Internationally Famous Mimic (1926)
  11. Almost a Gentleman (1928) comedy short with Billy Bennett
  12. Alvin and Kelvin Keech (1926) brothers who are credited with the invention of the banjolele (banjo and ukulele)
  13. America's Flyers (1927) filmed at Roosevelt Field (29 June 1927) with Richard E. Byrd, George Noville, and Bert Acosta, with speech given by Grover Whalen (listed in BFI database)
  14. Annie Laurie (1926)[17]**
  15. The Antidote (1927) dramatic short directed by Thomas Bentley, with Primrose Morgan, Walter Sondes, and Jameson Thomas***
  16. Armistice Day of 1928 (1928) produced by Phonofilms (Singapore) and released by British Sound Film Corporation
  17. Arthur Roberts (1927) comedy and musical short with Arthur Roberts and directed by Bertram Phillips
  18. As We Lie (1927) comedy short with Lillian Hall-Davis and Miles Mander, directed by Mander; also known as Lost One Wife
  19. Ashton and Rawson (May 1928)
  20. An Attempted Duet (1928) comedy short with Beryl Beresford and Leslie Hinton
  21. Barber and Jackson in The Long and the Short of It (1922) with Barber and Jackson (first names unknown)[18]
  22. Barking Dog (1921) experimental film with barking dog
  23. The Barrister (June 1928) with George Robey, directed by Hugh Croise
  24. Being All Alone (1927)
  25. Bella Donna (1923) Paramount Pictures feature film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Pola Negri and Conway Tearle[19]
  26. Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1925) with Oscar Levant on piano
  27. Betty Chester the Well-Known Star of The Co-Optimists (1926) Chester sings "Pig-Tail Alley"
  28. Billy Merson Singing Desdemona (1926)
  29. Billy Merson in Scotland's Whiskey (1927) parody of Sir Harry Lauder
  30. Billy Merson in Russian Opera (1927)
  31. Bleak House (1926) aka Grandfather Smallweed, the Miser (UK title) with Bransby Williams***
  32. Boat Race (1929) The Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race of 23 March 1929 ("centenary year") listed in BFI Database
  33. Boheme Blue (1927) musical short[20]
  34. A Boston Star: Borrah Minnevitch (1923) harmonicist*[21]
  35. The Bride (1929) comedy short with George Robey
  36. Brooke Johns and Goodee Montgomery (1925) Johns plays ukulele and Montgomery sings "I'm in Love Again" and dances***
  37. The Burglar and the Girl (1928) comedy short with Moore Marriott and Dorothy Boyd
  38. By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1926) the last of the Fleischer "Song Car-Tunes" with Phonofilm, released August 1926[22] **
  39. Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon (1926)**
  40. Calm as the Night (1927) sung by soprano Mary Cavanova (Marie Cavan)
  41. Canoodling (1928) Hal Jones sings song "Canoodling" from stage review Splinters
  42. Carrie From Lancasheer (October 1928)
  43. Carson and Shean (1926) ?Carson and Al Shean (SilentEra and BFI Database)
  44. Casey at the Bat (1922) famous poem read by actor DeWolf Hopper
  45. Cellist and Pianist (1928) two women play Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals
  46. Charles Lindbergh (1927) filmed at Clapham Studios in London on Lindbergh's departure from the UK
  47. Charles Lindbergh Reception (1927) Lindbergh receives Medal of Valor from NYC mayor Jimmy Walker on June 13, 1927
  48. Charles Ross Taggart (1923) "The Old Country Fiddler at the Singing School"[23] *
  49. Charmaine (1928) musical short with Eric Marshall singing
  50. Chorus Gentlemen (1926) or Chorus, Gentlemen!
  51. Clapham and Dwyer No. 1 (1929) Charles Clapham and Bill Dwyer
  52. Clapham and Dwyer No. 2 (1929) Charles Clapham and Bill Dwyer
  53. Clonk! (1928) musical short with Arty Ash and Leslie Sarony, directed by Widgey R. Newman
  54. Clyde Doerr and His Sax-o-Phone Sextet (1923)[24]
  55. The Coffee Stall (1927) Mark Lupino (c. 1894-4 April 1930) and Company, directed by George A. Cooper
  56. Cohen on the Telephone (1923) with monologist Monroe Silver[25]*
  57. Come Take a Trip in My Airship (1924) one of the first in the Fleischer "Song Car-Tune" series**
  58. Comin' Thro' the Rye (1926)[26]**
  59. Conchita Piquer (1923) in dance sketch "From Far Seville"[27]*
  60. The Covered Wagon (1923) Paramount Pictures feature directed by James Cruze[28]
  61. Cuando fui león (1928) Spanish producer purchased rights from DeForest for "Fonofilm"
  62. Cuban Sound Documentary (1926) with the Cuban national anthem and excerpts of The Merry Widow[29]
  63. Daisy Bell (1925)[30]**
  64. Dandy George and Rosie (1927) Dandy George (Albert George Spink) and his dog Rosie
  65. Darling Nelly Gray (1926)[31]**
  66. Der rote Kreis (1929) aka The Crimson Circle, UK-German feature based on Edgar Wallace novel, trade-shown in March 1929 in the UK
  67. Dick Henderson Sings "I Love Her All the More" (1926)
  68. Dick Henderson Sings "Tripe" (1926)
  69. Dick Henderson Sings "There Are More Heavens Than One" (1927)
  70. Die Nibelungen (1924), part I, "Siegfried" (only at the U.S. premiere in NYC on August 23, 1925)[32]
  71. Dixie (1925)[33]**
  72. Doing His Duty (1929) comedy short of Ernie Lotinga playing "Jimmy Josser", directed by Hugh Croise
  73. Dolly Gray (1926)**
  74. Domen (1924) Swedish language version of Retribution (1924), directed by Arthur Donaldson, Swedish actor and director[34]
  75. Donald Brian (1925) in Peggy O'Hooligan
  76. Doris Ashton and Billy Rawson (1928) Ashton sings and Rawson plays piano (BFI Database)
  77. Downey and Owens (1925) Morton Downey (Sr.) and ?Owens sing "Show Me the Way to Go Home" and "There Is No One Like Myself"
  78. The Duke and Duchess of York Arrive at Farm Cove (1927) film first shown 12 May 1927 at the Lyceum in Sydney, Australia
  79. Dunio and Gegna (1927) instrumental comedians, play "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" on violin and cello (BFI Database)
  80. Drink to Me Only (1926) Gwen Farrar (1899-1944) sings title song
  81. East Side, West Side (1925) also known as "The Sidewalks of New York"[35] **
  82. Edith Sitwell (1927) reads from her work
  83. El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (1929) first sound feature film made in Spain
  84. Elga Collins the Versatile Entertainer (1927) Collins sings "Ain't It Nice" and "Tonight You Belong to Me"
  85. Emmie Joyce Sings "I Need Love" (1927)
  86. Emmie Joyce Sings "Patience" (1927)
  87. En confesionario (1928)
  88. Ethel Hook (1926) song by contralto Ethel Hook, sister of classical singer Clara Butt
  89. Eubie Blake Plays His "Fantasy on Swanee River" (1923)[36]
  90. Eva Puck and Sammy White (1923) doing their sketch "Opera vs. Jazz"[37] *
  91. Everybody's Doing It (1926) **
  92. The Fair Maid of Perth (1926) live-action UK film with Louise Maurel, directed by Miles Mander
  93. False Colours (1927) dramatic short with Ursula Jeans and A. B. Imeson, directed by Miles Mander
  94. Fannie Ward (1924) Fannie Ward sings "Father Time"[38]
  95. Fannie Ward (1924) performs comedy sketch as the "Perennial Flapper"[39]
  96. Farewell Message of Mr. Levine and Captain Hinchcliffe, Just Before Their Departure on Their Return Flight to America (1927) with Charles A. Levine and Capt. Walter G. R. Hinchliffe[40]
  97. Femina Quartette Nr. 1 (1928) with Elizabeth Hyde (soprano), Brenda Hales (cellist), Yvonne Black (pianist) performing (BFI Database)[41]
  98. A Few Moments With Eddie Cantor, Star of "Kid Boots" (late 1923, early 1924)[42]
  99. The Fire Brigade (October 1928) with Robb Wilton
  100. Five Minutes with Al Smith (1924) Franklin D. Roosevelt introduces Smith at 1924 Democratic Convention[43]
  101. The Flat Charleston (1926) with Santos Casani and Josie Lennard
  102. The 'Flu That Flew (May 1928)
  103. Flying Jenny Airplane (1921) experimental film with Curtiss JN-4 ("Jenny") airplane
  104. Franklin D. Roosevelt Speech (1924) filmed at 1924 Democratic National Convention in NYC[44]
  105. Frivolous Fragments (1927) comedy sketch with Alec Daimler and Dora Eadie
  106. The Gentleman (1925) first sound-on-film UK film, directed by William J. Elliott, excerpt of The 9 to 11 Revue by Harold Simpson and Morris Harvey
  107. George Bernard Shaw (1927) one year before similar film by Fox Movietone News
  108. George Jackley (1885-1950), the Indignant Comedian in "A Doggy Ditty" (1927)
  109. George Jessel (1924) comedy sketch by Jessel[45]
  110. Gilland Singer (1927) M. Gilland from France sings, dressed as wounded World War I soldier
  111. Gimme the Hat (1927)
  112. Gloria Swanson Dialogue (1922), Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan[46]
  113. Goodbye My Lady Love (1924)[47]**
  114. Gorno's Italian Marionettes (1928) aka Die singenden Marionetten[48][49]
  115. Gwen Farrar (1899-1944) cellist Farrar performs "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" (1926)[50]
  116. Gwen Farrar and songwriter Billy Mayerl perform "I've Got a Sweetie on the Radio" (1926)[51]
  117. Hal Brown Lancashire Comedian (1928)
  118. The Harlequin's Serenade (no further identification of performer; in original April 15, 1923 program)*
  119. Harry and Max Nesbitt (1927) film sometimes listed as "Yid Nesbitt" (Max's nickname), brothers from South Africa in "vocal, verbal, and terpsichorean tidbits"
  120. Harry Shalson the Popular Entertainer (1927) Shalson sings "You Go Too Far"
  121. Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? (1926) Fleischer cartoon originally with green and orange tinting[52] **
  122. The Hawaiian Revellers (1928) with Kahola Marsh and His Hawaiian Orchestra
  123. Hedicashun (1929) monologue by A. W. Goodwin
  124. Helen Lewis and Her All-Girl Jazz Syncopators (1925) Lewis leads her "all-girl" band [53]
  125. Helen Menken (1925) Broadway star Helen Menken
  126. Henry Cass Demonstration Film (1923)* also at the Engineers Society Auditorium in NYC on April 12, 1923[54]
  127. Her Unborn Child (1930) last feature film made in Phonofilm (screen debut of Elisha Cook)
  128. His Rest Day (1927) comedy short directed by George A. Cooper with Matthew Boulton as Bill Gosling[55]
  129. Hot Water and Vegetabuel (1928) Leslie Sarony sings "When You're Up to Your Neck in Hot Water (Think of the Kettle and Sing)"
  130. The Houston Sisters (1926) musical short with Billie and Renee Houston[56]
  131. I Can't Take You Out of My Dreams (1926) Winnie Collins and Walter Williams sing title song[57]
  132. I Don't Believe You're in Love With Me (1926) Winnie Collins and Walter Williams sing title song[58]
  133. I Don't Care What You Used to Be (1927) Dick Henderson sings title song
  134. I Don't Know (1928) Emmie Joyce sings title song
  135. I Love a Lassie (1925)[59] **
  136. I Want a Pie with a Plum In (1926) Dick Henderson sings title song by Wal Clifford[60]
  137. In the Good Old Summer Time (1926) **
  138. I've Never Seen a Straight Banana (1926) sung by Dick Henderson, song by Ted Waite
  139. J. H. Squires' Celesta Octet (1928) aka "Memories of Tschaikovsky" w/The Squires Octet
  140. Jack Pearl and Ben Bard (1926) with Bard, Pearl, and Sascha Beaumont
  141. Joe Termini the Somnolent Melodist (1926) specialty musician performs on violin and banjo[61]
  142. Joe Theiss Saxotette (1929)
  143. John Citizen's Lament (1927) Charles Paton performs song "If Your Face Wants to Smile, We'll Let It In" from revue John Citizen's Lament
  144. John W. Davis Campaign Speech (1924), Democratic candidate who lost to Coolidge[62]
  145. Josephine Earle (1929) musical short
  146. Josser, KC (1929) comedy short with Ernie Lotinga playing "Jimmy Josser" (possible duplicate of Doing His Duty)
  147. The Jubilee Four (1924) gospel quartet
  148. Julius Caesar (1926) excerpt from the Shakespeare play, with Basil Gill as Brutus and Malcolm Keen as Cassius[63]
  149. Key and Heyworth (1927) duo sing a song (BFI Database)[64]
  150. Knee Deep in Daisies (1926) song "I'm Knee-Deep in Daisies (and Head Over Heels in Love)" sung by Paul England and Dorothy Boyd[65]
  151. Kollege Kapers (1929) comedy short written and directed by Bobby Harmon
  152. La Chauve-Souris (1923) Nikita Balieff's group La Chauve-Souris performing their sketch "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" (? with Technicolor sequence)[66]*
  153. Lee DeForest (1922) DeForest sitting in a chair and explaining Phonofilm
  154. Lillian Powell Bubble Dance (1923)* Denishawn dancer Powell dances to a theme by Brahms; film also shown at the Engineers Society Auditorium in NYC April 12, 1923[67]***
  155. Lincoln, Man of the People (1923) Edwin Markham reads his poem "Lincoln, Man of the People"
  156. The London Four (1927) male voice quartet
  157. Love's Old Sweet Song (1923) two-reeler with Louis Wolheim, Donald Gallaher, and Una Merkel, cinematography by Freeman Harrison Owens[68]
  158. Lulu (1928) musical short
  159. Luna-cy! (1925) 1922 experimental 3-D film by Frederick Ives and Jacob Leventhal re-released with Phonofilm soundtrack 18 May 1925
  160. Madelon (1927) Camille Gillard in "Madelon", directed by Widgey Newman
  161. Major Issues of the Campaign (1924) compilation of Al Smith, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John W. Davis short Phonofilms taken at the 1924 Democratic National Convention in NYC (see individual entries)[69]
  162. The Man in the Street (1926) short based on Louis N. Parker play, directed by Thomas Bentley, with Wilbur Lenton, John MacAndrews, and Bunty O'Nolan (UK title: Man of Mystery)[70]
  163. Margie (1926)[71]**
  164. Marie Lloyd Jr. (1926) daughter of music hall star Marie Lloyd[72]
  165. Marie Rappold (1922) Metropolitan Opera star[73]
  166. Mark Griver and His Scottish Revellers (1927) perform "She Was Just a Sailor's Sweetheart" and "Ain't She Sweet"[74] -- see also Chili Bouchier entry (above) and Pilbeam and His Band entry (below)
  167. Medevedeff's Balalaika Orchestra (1929)
  168. Memories of Lincoln (1925) 91-year-old former legislator Chauncey Depew recalls meeting Abraham Lincoln[75][76]
  169. The Merchant of Venice (1927) the trial scene, with Joyce Lyons and Lewis Casson, perhaps the first sound-on-film reproduction of a scene from a Shakespeare play
  170. Mickey (1927) **
  171. Mira la Blanca Luna (UK/Czech, 1936) Rossini aria sung by tenor Otakar Mařák and soprano Marie Cavan (Mary Cavanova)
  172. Mirth and Magic (1928) unidentified magician performs his magic act
  173. Miss Edith Kelly-Lange (1927) violin solo
  174. Miss Lalla Dodd, the Modern Soubrette (1927)
  175. Mother, Mother, Mother Pin a Rose on Me (1924)[77] **
  176. Mr. George Mozart the Famous Comedian (1928) comedy short [78]
  177. Mr. Smith Wakes Up (1929) comedy short with Elsa Lanchester
  178. Mrs. Mephistopheles (1929) comedy short with George Robey as title character, directed by Hugh Croise
  179. A Musical Monologue (1923) with Phil Baker and his accordion[79]*
  180. My Bonnie (1925) aka My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean **
  181. My Old Kentucky Home (1926) first to use "Follow the Bouncing Ball"[80] **
  182. My Wife's Gone to the Country (1926)[81]**
  183. Nan Wild (November 1927) directed by George A. Cooper
  184. Nervo and Knox (1926) perform their song "The Love of Phtohtenese" (pronounced "Hot Knees")[82]
  185. The New Paris Lido Club Band (1928) directed by Bertram Phillips
  186. The Nightingale's Courtship (1927) French clowns, the Plattier Brothers
  187. Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake (1923) perform their song "Affectionate Dan" and "All God's Chillen Got Shoes"[83]
  188. Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake Sing Snappy Songs (1923) sing "Sons of Old Black Joe" and "My Swanee Home"[84]
  189. Norah Blaney (1927) Blaney plays piano and sings "He's Funny That Way" and "How About Me"
  190. Nutcracker Suite (1925)[85] **
  191. Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (1926)[86] **
  192. Oh I Wish I Was in Michigan (1927) **
  193. Oh Mabel (1924) early entry in the Fleischer "Sound Car-Tune" series[87] **
  194. Oh What a Pal Was Mary (1926)**
  195. Oh Suzanna (1925)**
  196. Oh, You Beautiful Doll (1926) **
  197. Old Black Joe (1926)[88] **
  198. Old Folks at Home (1925) ?dupe of "Swanee" entry below **
  199. Old Pal Why Don't You Answer Me (1926) also sometimes listed as "My Old Pal" of "Dear Old Pal"[89]**
  200. Olly Oakley (November 1927) directed by George A. Cooper; banjoist Oakley was born Joseph Sharpe (b. Birmingham November 26, 1877; d. London January 4, 1943)
  201. The Orderly Room (July 1928) comedy short with Ernie Lotinga as Jimmy Josser, directed by Hugh Croise
  202. Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag (1926) Fleischer cartoon **
  203. Packing Up (1927) dramatic short with Mary Clare and Malcolm Keen, directed by Miles Mander
  204. Paul Specht Musical Number (1925)
  205. Peace and Quiet (1929) with Ralph Lynn and Winifred Shotter, directed by Sinclair Hill, play by Ronald Jeans
  206. Percival and Hill (1927)
  207. The Percival Mackey Trio (1929) directed by Bertram Phillips
  208. Percy Pryde and His Phonofiddle on the Phonofilm (1928)
  209. Philip Ritte and His Revellers (1927)
  210. Phonofilm (1923) with Binnie Barnes[90]
  211. Pilbeam and His Band With Specialty Dance by the Misses Tosch (1927) jazzy version of "Ain't She Sweet?" (?Arnold Pilbeam, father of Nova Pilbeam). See Chili Bouchier entry and Mark Griver entry (above) which feature same song.
  212. Plastigrams (1924) 1922 experimental 3-D film by Frederick Ives and Jacob Leventhal, re-released with Phonofilm soundtrack on 22 September 1924[91]
  213. President Calvin Coolidge, Taken on the White House Grounds (1924) filmed 11 August 1924[92]
  214. Punch and Judy (1928)
  215. The Radio Bug (1926) comedy short, produced by Jack White, directed by Stephen Roberts and co-starring Phil Dunham, Toy Gallagher and Clem Beauchamp, about delivery of a new radio, released in sound and silent versions by Educational Pictures[93]
  216. The Radio Franks (1926) NYC radio stars Frank Bessinger and Frank Wright sing "Remember" and "Hooray for Radio"[94] ***
  217. The Raw Recruit (July 1928) comedy short with Ernie Lotinga as Jimmy Josser, directed by Hugh Croise
  218. Raymond Hitchcock Sketch (1924)
  219. Retribution (1924) directed by Arthur Donaldson, Swedish actor and director, see also Domen (1924)[95]
  220. Rigoletto, Act Two (1923) with opera singer Eva Leoni (1895–1972) shown in NYC on 12 April and 15 April 1923; released in the UK in September 1926[96] *
  221. Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. (1924) speech given during 1924 presidential campaign[97]
  222. Rocky Road to Dublin (1927) **
  223. Roger Wolfe Kahn Musical Number (1925)[98]
  224. Romeo et Juliette (1927) tenor Otakar Mařák and soprano Mary Cavanova (Marie Cavan)
  225. Safety First (1928) George Robey singing his song "Safety First", directed by Hugh Croise
  226. Sailing, Sailing Over the Bounding Main (1925) **
  227. Saint Joan (1927) cathedral scene from Shaw's play, with Sybil Thorndike
  228. The Samehtini Trio (1927) two ballads and Hungarian dance (possibly Csárdás (Monti)) performed by male trio (pianist, cellist, and vocalist)[99]
  229. Sammy Fain and Artie Dunn (1923) before Fain quit to become full-time songwriter
  230. Santa Claus (1926) with Basil Gill as Santa Claus[100]
  231. Scovell and Wheldon (1927) UK radio stars (male duo) sing "Ukulele Lullaby" and "Fresh Milk Comes From Cows"[101]
  232. Scrooge (1928), a monologue from Dickens's A Christmas Carol, with Bransby Williams as Scrooge
  233. Sensations of 1927 (1927) Thorpe Bates in excerpt of Lawrence Wright's Sensations of 1927; full title A Few Melodious Moments From Lawrence Wright's "Sensations of 1927" at Onchan Head Pavilion Douglas, I.O.M. (BFI Database)
  234. The Sentence of Death (1927) dramatic short directed by Miles Mander and starring Dorothy Boyd (US title: His Great Moment)
  235. Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor (1923) DVD by Zouary shows it to be produced by the ?"Latin American division" of Phonofilm[102]
  236. The Sheik of Araby (US, September 1926) Fleischer cartoon **
  237. The Sheik of Araby (UK, December 1926) live-action short directed in the UK by Miles Mander
  238. Sidney Bernstein Welcomes Phonofilm (1926) shown 4 October 1926 at the Empire Cinema in London
  239. So Blue (1927) with ?Delys and Clark
  240. Songs of Yesterday (1922) spirituals sung by Abbie (Abbey) Mitchell[103]
  241. Sonia Serova Dancers (1924) modern dance group performs to Edvard Grieg's "Song of Spring"[104]
  242. Spirits (1929) comedy short with Ernie Lotinga as Jimmy Josser
  243. The Stage Hands (1928)
  244. Stringed Harmony (1923) with ukulele and banjo player Roy Smeck[105]*
  245. The Sugar Step (1928)
  246. Swanee River (1925)**
  247. Sweet Adeline (1926)[106] **
  248. Syncopation and Song (1927) with The Coney Island Six
  249. Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Dee-Aye (1926)**
  250. Teddy Brown (1927)
  251. Teddy Brown, Xylophonist (1929)
  252. Thorpe Bates (1926)[107]
  253. The Three Rascals and a Piano (1927)
  254. To See If My Dreams Come True (1927) Jack Hodges sings title song
  255. Tommy Lorne and "Dumplings" (1927)
  256. Tommy Lorne (1927) sings "The Lard Song"
  257. Toot Toot (1926) Fleischer cartoon ("Toot Toot Tootsie"?)**
  258. Topsey-Turvey (1927) comedian Arthur Roberts sings "Topsey-Turvey", directed by Bertram Phillips[108]
  259. The Toy Shop (1928)
  260. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1927) **
  261. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp the Boys Are Marching (1926) **
  262. Tumbledown Shack in Athlone (1927) **
  263. Unmasked (1929) mystery feature film (released by Weiss Brothers-Artclass Films)
  264. Va usted en punto con el banco (1928)
  265. Ventriloquist (1927) with William Frawley and girl who becomes the dummy (BFI database)
  266. Vicarage Trio—Kerbstone Entertainment (1928)
  267. The Victoria Girls (1928) perform "The Doll Dance", their "famous dancing medley"
  268. Violet Heming (1925) appeared in "playlet" filmed in Phonofilm (Variety, September 1925)
  269. Waiting for the Robert E. Lee (1927) **
  270. Weber and Fields (1923) doing their pool hall sketch[109] *
  271. Westminster Glee Singers (1927) group directed by Edward Branscombe
  272. What the Phonofilm Means (introduced by ?Bart Doyle; in original April 15, 1923 program)*
  273. When I Leave This World Behind (1926) **
  274. When I Lost You (1926)[110] **
  275. When That Yiddisher Band Played an Irish Tune (1926) with Teddy Elben and His Irish Jewzaleers[111]
  276. When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam' (1926)[112]**
  277. The Whistler (1926) dramatic short with Louise Maurel, John F. Hamilton, and Reginald Fox, directed by Miles Mander[113]
  278. Why Bananas? (1926) with Teddy Elben
  279. Wyn Gladwyn, One Person Two Personalities (1928)
  280. Yak-A-Hula-Hick-A-Doola (1926)[114] **
  281. Yorke and Adams (1927) Augustus Yorke (1860-1939) and Nicholas Adams perform Potash and Perlmutter[115]
  282. You and I and My Gondola (1927)
  283. Yvette Darnac (1929) radio star Darnac sings Gershwin tune "The Man I Love"

(*) Included in program of Phonofilms at the Rivoli Theater in NYC on 15 April 1923
(**) Fleischer "Song Car-Tunes" series (some titles later re-released by the Fleischers in their "Screen Songs" series, through Paramount Pictures, with new soundtracks recorded in RCA Photophone)
(***) Found in a trunk in Windsor, New South Wales, Australia in early 1976, and restored by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee de Forest and Phonofilm at Virtual Broadway website
  2. ^ The Educational Screen (January 1944), Chapter 12, "Now They Must Talk" by Arthur Edwin Krows
  3. ^ Lee de Forest and Phonofilm at Virtual Broadway website
  4. ^ Randy Alfred, Wired magazine (12 March 2008)
  5. ^ ASCE website entry
  6. ^ SilentEra entry for The Covered Wagon
  7. ^ SilentEra entry for Bella Donna
  8. ^ SilentEra entry for Siegfried
  9. ^ Edwin M. Bradley, The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography of 171 Features, 1927 through 1932 (McFarland, 2004) p6
  10. ^ The Educational Screen (January 1944), Chapter 12, "Now They Must Talk" by Arthur Edwin Krows
  11. ^ De Forest Phonofilms - Rushcutters Bay
  12. ^ IMDB entry
  13. ^ Tribute to Ventriloquism website
  14. ^ SilentEra entry
  15. ^ SilentEra entry
  16. ^ SilentEra entry
  17. ^ SilentEra entry
  18. ^ SilentEra entry Barber and Jackson, the Long and the Short of It
  19. ^ SilentEra entry
  20. ^ SilentEra entry
  21. ^ SilentEra entry
  22. ^ SilentEra entry
  23. ^ SilentEra entry
  24. ^ SilentEra entry
  25. ^ SilentEra entry
  26. ^ SilentEra entry
  27. ^ SilentEra entry
  28. ^ SilentEra entry
  29. ^ SilentEra entry
  30. ^ SilentEra entry
  31. ^ SilentEra entry
  32. ^ SilentEra entry
  33. ^ SilentEra entry
  34. ^ SilentEra entry
  35. ^ SilentEra entry
  36. ^ SilentEra entry
  37. ^ SilentEra entry
  38. ^ SilentEra entry
  39. ^ SilentEra entry
  40. ^ Farewell Message of Mr. Levine and Captain Hinchliffe, Just Before Their Departure on Their Return Flight to America (1927) at SilentEra
  41. ^ Silent Era entry
  42. ^ SilentEra entry
  43. ^ SilentEra entry
  44. ^ SilentEra entry
  45. ^ SilentEra entry
  46. ^ SilentEra entry
  47. ^ SilentEra entry
  48. ^ SilentEra entry
  49. ^ Antti Alanen Film Diary entry
  50. ^ SilentEra entry
  51. ^ SilentEra entry
  52. ^ SilentEra entry
  53. ^ Silent Era entry
  54. ^ SilentEra entry
  55. ^ SilentEra entry
  56. ^ SilentEra entry
  57. ^ SilentEra entry
  58. ^ SilentEra entry
  59. ^ SilentEra entry
  60. ^ SilentEra entry
  61. ^ SilentEra entry
  62. ^ SilentEra entry
  63. ^ SilentEra entry
  64. ^ SilentEra entry
  65. ^ SilentEra entry
  66. ^ SilentEra entry
  67. ^ SilentEra entry
  68. ^ SilentEra entry
  69. ^ Lee DeForest and Phonofilm at Virtual Broadway
  70. ^ SilentEra entry
  71. ^ SilentEra entry
  72. ^ SilentEra entry
  73. ^ SilentEra entry
  74. ^ SilentEra entry
  75. ^ SilentEra entry
  76. ^ Lee DeForest and Phonofilm at Virtual Broadway
  77. ^ SilentEra entry
  78. ^ SilentEra entry
  79. ^ SilentEra entry
  80. ^ SilentEra entry
  81. ^ SilentEra entry
  82. ^ SilentEra entry
  83. ^ SilentEra entry
  84. ^ SilentEra entry
  85. ^ SilentEra entry
  86. ^ SilentEra entry
  87. ^ SilentEra entry
  88. ^ SilentEra entry
  89. ^ SilentEra entry
  90. ^ SilentEra entry
  91. ^ SilentEra entry
  92. ^ SilentEra entry
  93. ^ SilentEra entry
  94. ^ SilentEra entry
  95. ^ SilentEra entry
  96. ^ SilentEra entry
  97. ^ SilentEra entry
  98. ^ SilentEra entry
  99. ^ BFI Database entry
  100. ^ SilentEra entry
  101. ^ SilentEra entry
  102. ^ SilentEra entry
  103. ^ SilentEra entry
  104. ^ SilentEra entry
  105. ^ SilentEra entry
  106. ^ SilentEra entry
  107. ^ SilentEra entry
  108. ^ BFI Database entry
  109. ^ SilentEra entry
  110. ^ SilentEra entry
  111. ^ SilentEra entry
  112. ^ SilentEra entry
  113. ^ SilentEra entry
  114. ^ SilentEra entry
  115. ^ SilentEra entry

External links[edit]