The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930

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9780786160235: The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926-1930

It was the end of an era. It was a turbulent, colorful, and altogether remarkable period, four short years in which America's most popular industry reinvented itself.

Here is the epic story of the transition from silent films to talkies, that moment when movies were totally transformed and the American public cemented its love affair with Hollywood. As Scott Eyman demonstrates in his fascinating account of this exciting era, it was a time when fortunes, careers, and lives were made and lost, when the American film industry came fully into its own.

In this mixture of cultural and social history that is both scholarly and vastly entertaining, Eyman dispels the myths and gives us the missing chapter in the history of Hollywood, the ribbon of dreams by which America conquered the world.

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Review:

Nowadays the "talkie" seems, like some other technological breakthroughs, to have obliterated its less-advanced predecessor, the silent movie, in one fell swoop. The reality, of course, is more complex. As Scott Eyman writes in his prologue to The Speed of Sound, "To examine this period of unparalleled industrial change, it is necessary to reverse the perspective, to give a fair, detailed idea of what silents were like to the people who made and watched them, and how talkies permanently changed the creative and personal equations." Eyman's eye-opening book fulfills this mission. He focuses on just five years--1926 through 1930--but tells the story on many levels. We learn about the technology, the details of actors' and technicians' lives, the elaborate business machinations associated with the rise of sound, and the resulting transformation of not just the movies but Hollywood itself. The Speed of Sound fills a gap in any film buff's library.

About the Author:

SCOTT EYMAN is the books editor for the Palm Beach Post. He is the author of books on Mary Pickford, Ernst Lubitsch, and John Ford, among other books. He lives in West Palm Beach, Florida, with his wife.

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