Silents to sound - academic research

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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greta de groat
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Re: Silents to sound - academic research

Unread post by greta de groat » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:20 pm

Two of the biggest persona changes were also two of the survivors who had been in the silents the longest--Wallace Beery and William Powell.

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Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen

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Re: Silents to sound - academic research

Unread post by Kadmos1 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 9:56 am

From an academic standpoint, it might be hard to give a general answer why many silent film stars didn't transition well into the sound era. Thus, you have to look at individual figures. A good resource is Columbia University's Women Film Pioneers Project site. They have many a brief biography (kind of the length you would find on Wikipedia) on silent film actresses I had not previous heard of. The biographies might have circumstances like studio politics or personal issues that partially accounts for why said woman didn't really transition into the sound era.

On the "About" page: "The Women Film Pioneers Project (WFPP) is a freely accessible, collaborative online database that showcases the hundreds of women who worked behind-the-scenes in the silent film industry as directors, producers, editors, and more. Always expanding, the database features career profiles on each pioneer, longer overview essays on national cinemas and occupations, still and moving images, and archival and bibliographic resource materials."

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Re: Silents to sound - academic research

Unread post by Kadmos1 » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:08 am

An actor that started in silent shorts that had a much-longer career in sounds was Mickey Rooney. Including titles released after his death, his career lasted from 1927-2015.

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Re: Silents to sound - academic research

Unread post by Lokke Heiss » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:31 pm

Thanks, everyone for their incredibly helpful answers!
"You can't top pigs with pigs."

Walt Disney, responding to someone who asked him why he didn't immediately do a sequel to The Three Little Pigs

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Re: Silents to sound - academic research

Unread post by 2 Reel » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:59 pm

Robert Israel Music wrote:
Donald Binks wrote:One succinct reason comes to mind - having to learn lines. In the silent days, actors could get away with saying anything, but the thought of having to actually learn a whole heap of dialogue may have been too much for some of them.

Greetings, Mr. Binks. One might think that this would have posed an issue, (your theory), but it does not stand up to scrutiny. Throughout the 1920s, dialogue was provided to the actors and actresses to learn and execute, and this can be validated by looking at film production records, but also by viewing silent features and comparing what actors are saying with the title cards that follow. Also, many of the top performers came from the stage and already had well established careers in theater before going to film, so learning dialogue would be the least of their challenges. Just out of curiosity, several names came to my mind–with the question: where did they start? Some debuted on stage, others started direct to film:

Lon Chaney–stage
Douglas Fairbanks–stage
Marion Davies–stage
William S. Hart–stage
Charlie Chaplin–stage
Jobyna Ralston–stage
Harold Lloyd–stage
John Barrymore–stage
Buster Keaton–stage
Mary Pickford–stage
Wallace Beery–stage
Noah Beery–stage
George Bancroft–stage
Louise Brooks–stage/dance
Clive Brook–stage
Milton Sills–stage

Evelyn Brent–film/stage
Richard Barthelmess–film
Clara Bow–film
Conrad Nagel–film
Fay Wray–film
John Gilbert–film
Greta Garbo–film
James Murray–film
Lois Wilson–film
William Haines–film
You need to add to this list Wallace Reid, in many polls rated the third most popular star up to 1923. He seems to have been in several plays written by his father, Hal Reid, prior to their joint 1910 first film appearances, and Wallace Reid was also in several plays during the silent years up to 1923. He also fronted his own band, sang, and could play every musical instrument in an orchestra. These facts were brought out in a terrific biography I recently read called Wally The True Wallace Reid Story.
They call me "Dangerous Dal"

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