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Tom Gregory

Radio Clips

Tom Gregory's Hollywood Vault radio clips, as featured on Leeza Gibbons' national radio program Hollywood Confidential!

End of Silence

End of Silence

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Below is a transcript of the review on the audio file playable above.

With the advent of sound the world lost the international language of silence. Sound sang it's way into Hollywood and changed it with a bang.

The silence barrier was first broken by Al Jolson in 1927's "the Jazz Singer" when he extolled;

"Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain't heard nothin' yet!"

Directors, Producers, and actors went sound crazy overnight. Splicing, spacing and style all had to be reworked. Noisy cameras had to be housed in heavily insulated wooden boxes. They could barely be moved.

Actors, whose grating voice didn't make the grade, grabbed their bags, bid their baby ado, and made a lickety-split run for the hills.

Primitive technology forced actors to choreograph their movements and lines to accommodate hidden microphones on the set. Directors could no longer bellow out their moment-to-moment whims while the camera rolled– he, or she, had to trust the actors.

Garbo who had already had a quiet career of monumental proportions was afraid sound might end her livelihood. But her husky Swedish drawl made her a legend when in 1930's Anna Christie she uttered:

'Gimme a viskey with ginger ale on the side...and don't be stingy, baby'

By 1930, Garbo's real-life lover John Gilbert's career was crippled by sound, or by bad lines. He became one of has-been stars to never regain his silent stature.

With the new invention, Theatre owners barked, "Where am I supposed to put these big speakers?" But in 1927 the porous screen was invented. Now owners could place speakers right behind the flicking enchantment. Kids sneaked slingshots and bb guns into the afternoon movies to shoot at the villains, crippling the speakers and garbling the talkies, but like a matinee zombie, when sound rose up, it was here to stay.

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