London: Elm Tree Books, 1978, (First Edition) Hardback in dust wrapper.
Contains: Black & white photographs; Chronological tables ;
>From the cover: Charlie Chaplin said I nearly died of fright. Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Mary Pickford collapsed in euphoric relief. John Barrymore, on the other hand, said airily, I dont take this radio thing too seriously.
The time was March, 1928. Behind locked doors in Mary Pickfords bungalow on the United Artists lot, these and others among Hollywoods most highly-paid stars were undergoing one of the strangest experiences in their privileged and celebrated lives. They were doing a Big Broadcast to the American people to prove that they actually possessed voices, talking voices, good enough to meet the challenge of the talkies. For the first time, Adolphe Menjou later recalled, movie actors were conscious of their vocal chords.
The two years that followed, until 1930, were the most turbulent in Hollywood history. Surprisingly, their full effect in human, artistic and economic terms has not been chronicled before. Now Alexander Walker explores the extraordinary mixture of panic and opportunism, upset and innovation, threat to the old ways and incredible promise in the new which erupted in America with the coming of the talkies.
The Shattered Silents traces the steps taken by anxious stars of the silent screen, the raids on Broadway which threatened the opening of the 1929 season, the staggering cost of re-equipping studios and cinemas throughout the country and the battles between financial groups to win the market. It looks at audience reaction to the early talkies, and shows how swiftly the novelty wore off, re-assesses many of those early films, and examines in detail the impact of Pickford, Barrymore, Clara Bow, Garbo, John Gilbert and others as they made their debuts in sound.
Expertly catching the atmosphere created by this profound technical revolution in the most spellbinding of the new media, Alexander Walker provides an eloquent study of how, in almost every sense, the talkies shattered the silents and their world.
Very Good in Good Dust Wrapper. Dust wrapper sunned at the spine and onto the margins of the panels. Edges of the text block lightly spotted. Text complete, clean and tight.
Black boards with Silver titling to the Spine. [XI] 218 pages. Index. Bibliography. 9½” x 6¼”.