A History of American Movies: A Film-by-Film Look at the by Paul Monaco

By Paul Monaco

A background of yank video clips offers a survey of the narrative function movie from the Twenties to the current. The booklet makes a speciality of a hundred and seventy of the main very popular and well-known function movies chosen by way of the Hollywood institution: each one Oscar winner for top photograph, in addition to these voted the best by way of participants of the yankee movie Institute.

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As I started making the picture in 1927, I was thrilled by the fact that it was to be the first picture to have singing in it, but I didn’t dream that it would also introduce dialogue to the screen. The speaking was accidental. When I sat down to the piano as we began work on a singing scene, I adlibbed: “Wait till you hear this, mamma! ” The Warners decided the words might be effective, so several takes were made—and the moving pictures had begun to talk. In 1927, Jolson was at the peak of his success as a stage entertainer with his own distinct style, but the mechanical devices of electrical engineering threatened all the legitimate theaters and vaudeville houses.

The younger Laemmle then hired veteran Lewis Milestone, who was widely respected by Hollywood peers and had already won one of the earliest Oscars given for Best Director, to direct the movie and engaged Arthur Edeson as the picture’s director of photography. One of the founders of the distinguished American Society of Cinematographers in 1919, Edeson was considered by his Hollywood peers to be a genius of cinematography in the early sound era because of his work on the first synchronous sound western, a Fox production entitled In Old Arizona.

This experimentation, however, went nowhere; this device made little impact on mainstream movie production and has remained a curiosity. All Quiet on the Western Front was an entirely different kind of movie. Its challenge was to effectively make a screen adaptation of the recently published popular novel by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The novel already was considered by many to portray antiwar sentiment in a manner that made the book a classic. A production of Universal—a studio hardly known for taking on risky production projects for the sake of art—this movie was considered an especially high risk by many Hollywood experts.

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