Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

Natural Sound in the Early Talkie Western

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2011), 5, (2), 113–136.

Abstract

This article outlines the historical conditions surrounding the reception of the first cycle of talkie Westerns produced by Hollywood studios from 1929 to 1931. While these films have largely been treated by contemporary scholarship as merely descendents of silent Westerns and crude forebears of the genre's later sound-era classicism, this article removes them from that teleological trajectory to situate them within the historical debates surrounding the transition to sound. By highlighting the generic designation 'outdoor film' and linking it to the notion of 'natural' sound that formed a key point of the marketing for sound on film systems, this article provides a listening model for understanding the varied aesthetic strategies by which these films worked out an approach to sound within the ideological constraints of the classical Hollywood studio system.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Abel, Richard (1999) The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900–1910, Berkeley: University of California Press The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American 1900 1910 Google Scholar

Altman, Rick (1984) 'A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Genre', Cinema Journal, 23:3, spring: 6–18 A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Genre Cinema Journal 23 6 18 Google Scholar

Altman, Rick (1992) 'General Introduction: Cinema as Event', in Rick Altman (ed.) Sound Theory/Sound Practice, New York: Routledge, pp. 1–14 General Introduction: Cinema as Event Sound Theory/Sound Practice 1 14 Google Scholar

Altman, Rick (1998) 'Reusable Packaging: Generic Products and the Recycling Process' in Nick Browne (ed.) Refiguring American Film Genres, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 1–41. Reusable Packaging: Generic Products and the Recycling Process Refiguring American Film Genres 1 41 Google Scholar

Altman, Rick (1999) Film/Genre, London: BFI Publishing Film/Genre Google Scholar

Altman, Rick (2004) Silent Film Sound, New York: Columbia University Press Silent Film Sound Google Scholar

Belton, John (1992) Widescreen Cinema, Cambridge: Harvard University Press Widescreen Cinema Google Scholar

Bordwell, David, Staiger, Janet & Thompson, Kristin (1985) The Classical Hollywood System: Film Style and the Mode of Production to 1960, New York: Columbia University Press The Classical Hollywood System: Film Style and the Mode of Production to 1960 Google Scholar

Busby, Marquis (1930) 'The New Two-Gun Man', Photoplay, April: 50, 121 The New Two-Gun Man Photoplay 50 121 Google Scholar

Cooper, Gary & Spensley, Dorothy (1929) 'The Big Boy Tells His Story', Photoplay, April/May: 64–5, 133–4 (April); 70–1, 84, 110 (May) Google Scholar

Crafton, Donald (1999) The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound 1926–1931, Berkeley: University of California Press The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound 1926–1931 Google Scholar

Daugherty, Frank (1930) 'Ol' Bill Hart is Coming Back!', Photoplay, December: 50–51, 132 Ol' Bill Hart is Coming Back! Photoplay 132 50 51 Google Scholar

DeForest, Lee (1928) 'The Talking Pictures', American Cinematographer, February: 4 The Talking Pictures American Cinematographer 4 Google Scholar

Dreher, Carl (1931) 'Recording, Re-recording, and Editing of Sound', Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 16:6, June: 756–65 Recording, Re-recording, and Editing of Sound Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers 16 756 65 Google Scholar

Evans, Porter H. (1930) 'A Study of Sound on Disk and Film', Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 15:2, August: 185–92 A Study of Sound on Disk and Film Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers 15 185 92 Google Scholar

Gomery, Douglas (2005) The Coming of Sound, New York: Routledge The Coming of Sound Google Scholar

Hastings, Tod (1929) 'The Cisco Kid Himself ', Photoplay, March: 34–5, 131 The Cisco Kid Himself Photoplay 131 34 5 Google Scholar

'In Old Arizona's Opening Night at the Roxy' (1929), Variety, 23 January: 42 Google Scholar

Kalinak, Kathryn (1992) Settling the Score: Music and the Classical Hollywood Film, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press Settling the Score: Music and the Classical Hollywood Film Google Scholar

Koszarski, Richard (1994) An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture 1915–1928, Berkeley: University of California Press An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture 1915–1928 Google Scholar

Lastra, James (1999) Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity, New York: Columbia University Press Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity Google Scholar

Leutrat, Jean-Louis, and Suzanne Liandrat-Guiges (1998) 'John Ford and Monument Valley', in Ed Buscombe and Roberta Pearson, Back in the Saddle Again, London: British Film Institute, pp. 160–69 John Ford and Monument Valley', in Ed Buscombe and Roberta Pearson Back in the Saddle Again 160 69 Google Scholar

Maxfield, Joseph P. (1930) 'Acoustic Control of Recording for Talking Motion Pictures', Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 14:1, January: 85–95 Acoustic Control of Recording for Talking Motion Pictures Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers 14 85 95 Google Scholar

Maxfield, Joseph P. (1931) 'Some Physical Factors Affecting the Illusion in Sound Motion Pictures', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 3:1, July Some Physical Factors Affecting the Illusion in Sound Motion Pictures Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 3 Google Scholar

Maxfield, Joseph P., Colledge, A.W. & Friebus, R.T. (1938) 'Pick-up for Sound Motion Pictures (Including Stereophonic)', Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 30:6, June: 666–79 Pick-up for Sound Motion Pictures (Including Stereophonic) Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers 30 666 79 Google Scholar

Movietone ad (1929), Photoplay, January: 138–9 Google Scholar

Shafer, Rosalind (1929) 'After Four Years', Photoplay, October: 36–7, 96 After Four Years Photoplay 96 36 7 Google Scholar

Spadoni, Robert (2007) Uncanny Bodies: The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre, Berkeley: University of California Press Uncanny Bodies: The Coming of Sound Film and the Origins of the Horror Genre Google Scholar

Staiger, Janet (1992) Interpretting Films: Case Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press Interpretting Films: Case Studies in the Historical Reception of American Cinema Google Scholar

Stanfield, Peter (2001) Hollywood, Westerns, and the 1930: The Lost Trail, Exeter: University of Exeter Press Hollywood, Westerns, and the 1930: The Lost Trail Google Scholar

Stanfield, Peter (2002) Horse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy, Urbana: University of Illinois Press Horse Opera: The Strange History of the 1930s Singing Cowboy Google Scholar

Verhoeff, Nanna (2006) The West in Early Cinema, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press The West in Early Cinema Google Scholar

The Virginian ad (1929) Variety, 6 November: 32 Google Scholar

The Virginian ad (1929) Photoplay, December: 4 Google Scholar

The Virginian production still (1929) Photoplay, October Google Scholar

'Warners Outdoors' (1929) Variety, 16 January. Google Scholar

Western Electric ad (1930) Photoplay, April: 15 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Stadel, Luke