Technicolor is a series of color motion picture processes, the first version dating to 1916, followed by improved versions over several decades. It was the second major color process, after Britain's Kinemacolor, the most used color process in Hollywood from 1922 to 1952. Technicolor became known and celebrated for its saturated color, was most used for filming musicals such as The Wizard of Oz and Down Argentine Way, costume pictures such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and Gone with the Wind, animated films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Gulliver's Travels, Fantasia; as the technology matured it was used for less spectacular dramas and comedies. A film noir—such as Leave Her to Heaven or Niagara —was filmed in Technicolor. "Technicolor" is the trademark for a series of color motion picture processes pioneered by Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation, now a division of the French company Technicolor SA. The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation was founded in Boston in 1914 by Herbert Kalmus, Daniel Frost Comstock, W. Burton Wescott.
The "Tech" in the company's name was inspired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where both Kalmus and Comstock received their undergraduate degrees and were instructors. Technicolor, Inc. was chartered in Delaware in 1921. Most of Technicolor's early patents were taken out by Comstock and Wescott, while Kalmus served as the company's president and chief executive officer; the term "Technicolor" has been used to describe at least five concepts: Technicolor: an umbrella company encompassing all of the below as well as other ancillary services. Technicolor labs: a collection of film laboratories across the world owned and run by Technicolor for post-production services including developing and transferring films in all major color film processes, as well as Technicolor's proprietary ones. Technicolor process or format: several custom image origination systems used in film production, culminating in the "three-strip" process in 1932. Technicolor IB printing: a process for making color motion picture prints that allows the use of dyes which are more stable and permanent than those formed in ordinary chromogenic color printing.
Used for printing from color separation negatives photographed on black-and-white film in a special Technicolor camera. Prints or Color by Technicolor: used from 1954 on, when Eastmancolor supplanted the three-film-strip camera negative method, while the Technicolor IB printing process continued to be used as one method of making the prints; this meaning of the name applies to nearly all Wikipedia articles about films made from 1954 onward in which Technicolor is named in the credits. Technicolor existed in a two-color system. In Process 1, a prism beam-splitter behind the camera lens exposed two consecutive frames of a single strip of black-and-white negative film one behind a red filter, the other behind a green filter; because two frames were being exposed at the same time, the film had to be photographed and projected at twice the normal speed. Exhibition required a special projector with two apertures, two lenses, an adjustable prism that aligned the two images on the screen; the results were first demonstrated to members of the American Institute of Mining Engineers in New York on February 21, 1917.
Technicolor itself produced the only movie made in Process 1, The Gulf Between, which had a limited tour of Eastern cities, beginning with Boston and New York on September 13, 1917 to interest motion picture producers and exhibitors in color. The near-constant need for a technician to adjust the projection alignment doomed this additive color process. Only a few frames of The Gulf Between, showing star Grace Darmond, are known to exist today. Convinced that there was no future in additive color processes, Comstock and Kalmus focused their attention on subtractive color processes; this culminated in what would be known as Process 2. As before, the special Technicolor camera used a beam-splitter that exposed two consecutive frames of a single strip of black-and-white film, one behind a green filter and one behind a red filter; the difference was that the two-component negative was now used to produce a subtractive color print. Because the colors were physically present in the print, no special projection equipment was required and the correct registration of the two images did not depend on the skill of the projectionist.
The frames exposed behind the green filter were printed on one strip of black-and-white film, the frames exposed behind the red filter were printed on another strip. After development, each print was toned to a color nearly complementary to that of the filter: orange-red for the green-filtered images, cyan-green for the red-filtered ones. Unlike tinting, which adds a uniform veil of color to the entire image, toning chemically replaces the black-and-white silver image with transparent coloring matter, so that the highlights remain clear, dark areas are colored, intermediate tones are colored proportionally; the two prints, made on film stock half the thickness of regular film, we
Pre-Code Hollywood refers to the brief era in the American film industry between the widespread adoption of sound in pictures in 1929 and the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code censorship guidelines, popularly known as the "Hays Code", in mid-1934. Although the Code was adopted in 1930, oversight was poor, it did not become rigorously enforced until July 1, 1934, with the establishment of the Production Code Administration. Before that date, movie content was restricted more by local laws, negotiations between the Studio Relations Committee and the major studios, popular opinion, than by strict adherence to the Hays Code, ignored by Hollywood filmmakers; as a result, some films in the late 1920s and early 1930s depicted or implied sexual innuendo, mild profanity, illegal drug use, prostitution, abortion, intense violence, homosexuality. Strong female characters were ubiquitous in such pre-Code films as Female, Baby Face, Red-Headed Woman. Gangsters in films like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, Scarface were seen by many as heroic rather than evil.
Along with featuring stronger female characters, films examined female subject matters that would not be revisited until decades in US films. Nefarious characters were seen to profit from their deeds, in some cases without significant repercussions, drug use was a topic of several films. Many of Hollywood's biggest stars such as Clark Gable, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, Edward G. Robinson got their start in the era. Other stars who excelled during this period, like Ruth Chatterton and Warren William, would wind up forgotten by the general public within a generation. Beginning in late 1933 and escalating throughout the first half of 1934, American Roman Catholics launched a campaign against what they deemed the immorality of American cinema. This, plus a potential government takeover of film censorship and social research seeming to indicate that movies which were seen to be immoral could promote bad behavior, was enough pressure to force the studios to capitulate to greater oversight. In 1922, after some risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder William H.
"Will" Hays, a figure of unblemished rectitude. Hays nicknamed the motion picture "Czar", was paid the then-lavish sum of $100,000 a year. Hays, Postmaster General under Warren G. Harding and former head of the Republican National Committee, served for 25 years as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, where he "defended the industry from attacks, recited soothing nostrums, negotiated treaties to cease hostilities." Hollywood mimicked the decision Major League Baseball had made in hiring judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as League Commissioner the previous year to quell questions about the integrity of baseball in wake of the 1919 World Series gambling scandal. Hays introduced a set of recommendations dubbed "The Formula" in 1924, which the studios were advised to heed, asked filmmakers to describe to his office the plots of pictures they were planning; the Supreme Court had decided unanimously in 1915 in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that free speech did not extend to motion pictures, while there had been token attempts to clean up the movies before, such as when the studios formed the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry in 1916, little had come of the efforts.
In 1929, an American Roman Catholic layman Martin Quigley, editor of the prominent trade paper Motion Picture Herald, Father Daniel A. Lord, a Jesuit priest, created a code of standards, submitted it to the studios. Lord's concerns centered on the effects sound film had on children, whom he considered susceptible to their allure. Several studio heads, including Irving Thalberg of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, met with Lord and Quigley in February 1930. After some revisions, they agreed to the stipulations of the Code. One of the main motivating factors in adopting the Code was to avoid direct government intervention, it was the responsibility of the Studio Relations Committee, headed by Colonel Jason S. Joy, to supervise film production and advise the studios when changes or cuts were required; the Code was divided into two parts. The first was a set of "general principles" which concerned morality; the second was a set of "particular applications", an exacting list of items that could not be depicted.
Some restrictions, such as the ban on homosexuality or the use of specific curse words, were never directly mentioned but were assumed to be understood without clear demarcation. Miscegenation, the mixing of the races, was forbidden, it stated that the notion of an "adults-only policy" would be a dubious, ineffective strategy that would be difficult to enforce. However, it did allow that "maturer minds may understand and accept without harm subject matter in plots which does younger people positive harm." If children were supervised and the events implied elliptically, the code allowed what Brandeis University cultural historian Thomas Doherty called "the possibility of a cinematically inspired thought crime". The Code sought not only to determine what could be portrayed on screen, but to promote traditional values. Sexual relations outside of marriage could not be portrayed as attractive and beautiful, presented in a way that might arouse passion, nor be made to seem right and permissible. All criminal action had to be punish
Gold Diggers of 1933
Gold Diggers of 1933 is a pre-Code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and choreographed by Busby Berkeley. It stars Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, features Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks and Ginger Rogers; the story is based on the play The Gold Diggers by Avery Hopwood, which ran for 282 performances on Broadway in 1919 and 1920. The play was made into a silent film in 1923 by David Belasco, the producer of the Broadway play, as The Gold Diggers, starring Hope Hampton and Wyndham Standing, again as a talkie in 1929, directed by Roy Del Ruth; that film, Gold Diggers of Broadway, which starred Nancy Welford and Conway Tearle, was the biggest box office hit of that year, Gold Diggers of 1933 was one of the top-grossing films of 1933. This version of Hopwood's play was written by James Seymour and Erwin S. Gelsey, with additional dialogue by David Boehm and Ben Markson. In 2003, Gold Diggers of 1933 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally or aesthetically significant".
The "gold diggers" are four aspiring actresses: an ingenue. The film was made in 1933, during the Great Depression and contains numerous direct references to it, it begins with a rehearsal for a stage show, interrupted by the producer's creditors who close down the show because of unpaid bills. At the unglamorous apartment shared by three of the four actresses, the producer, Barney Hopkins, is in despair because he has everything he needs to put on a show, except money, he hears the girls' neighbor and Polly's boyfriend, playing the piano. Brad is a brilliant songwriter and singer who not only has written the music for a show, but offers Hopkins $15,000 in cash to back the production. Of course, they all think he is kidding, but he insists that he is serious – he offers to back the show, but refuses to perform in it, despite his talent and voice. Brad comes through with the money and the show goes into production, but the girls are suspicious that he must be a criminal since he is cagey about his past and will not appear in the show though he is more talented than the aging juvenile lead they have hired.
It turns out, that Brad is in fact a millionaire's son whose family does not want him associating with the theatre. On opening night, in order to save the show when the juvenile cannot perform, Brad is forced to play the lead role. With the resulting publicity, Brad's brother J. Lawrence Bradford and family lawyer Fanuel H. Peabody discover what he is doing and go to New York to save him from being seduced by a "gold digger". Lawrence mistakes Carol for Polly, his heavy-handed effort to dissuade the "cheap and vulgar" showgirl from marrying Brad by buying her off annoys her so much that she plays along, but the two fall in love. Meanwhile, Trixie targets "Fanny" the lawyer as the perfect rich sap ripe for exploitation; when Lawrence finds out that Brad and Polly have wed, he threatens to have the marriage annulled, but relents when Carol refuses to marry him if he does. Trixie marries Fanuel. All the "gold diggers" end up with wealthy men. Warren William as Lawrence Bradford Joan Blondell as Carol King Aline MacMahon as Trixie Lorraine Ruby Keeler as Polly Parker Dick Powell as "Brad Roberts" Guy Kibbee as Faneuil H. Peabody Ned Sparks as Barney Hopkins Ginger Rogers as Fay Fortune Etta Moten as soloist in "Remember My Forgotten Man" Billy Barty as The Baby in "Pettin' in the Park" Cast notes: Character actors Sterling Holloway and Hobart Cavanaugh appear in small roles, as does choreographer Busby Berkeley, as a backstage call boy who yells "Everybody on stage for the'Forgotten Man' number".
Other uncredited cast members include: Robert Agnew, Joan Barclay, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Ann Hovey, Fred Kelsey, Charles Lane, Wallace MacDonald, Wilbur Mack, Dennis O'Keefe, Fred Toones, Dorothy Wellman, Jane Wyman, Lynn Browning and Tammany Young. Gold Diggers of 1933 was to be called High Life, George Brent was an early casting idea for the role played by Warren William; the film was made for an estimated $433,000 at Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, went into general release on May 27, 1933. It was the joint second most popular movie at the US box office in 1933. According to Warner Bros. records the film earned $2,202,000 domestically and $1,029,000 foreign. The film made a profit of $1,602,530. In 1934, the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Recording for Nathan Levinson, the film's sound director; the film was nominated for the following American Film Institute lists: 2004: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs: "We're in the Money" 2006: AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals The film contains four song and dance sequences designed and choreographed by Busby Berkeley.
All the songs were written by Al Dubin. "We're in the Money" is sung by Ginger Rogers accompanied by scantily-clad showgirls dancing with giant coins. Rogers sings one verse in Pig Latin. "Pettin' in the Park" is sung by Dick Powell. It includes a tap dance from Keeler and a surreal sequence featuring dwarf actor Billy Barty as a baby who escapes from his stroller. During the number, the women get caught in a rainstorm and go behind a backlit screen to rem
Top Hat is a 1935 American screwball musical comedy film in which Fred Astaire plays an American dancer named Jerry Travers, who comes to London to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick. He attempts to impress Dale Tremont to win her affection; the film features Eric Blore as Hardwick's valet Bates, Erik Rhodes as Alberto Beddini, a fashion designer and rival for Dale's affections, Helen Broderick as Hardwick's long-suffering wife Madge. The film was written by Dwight Taylor, it was directed by Mark Sandrich. The songs were written by Irving Berlin. "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" and "Cheek to Cheek" have become American song classics. It has been nostalgically referred to — its "Cheek to Cheek" segment — in many films, including The Purple Rose of Cairo and The Green Mile. Top Hat was the most successful picture of Astaire and Rogers' partnership, achieving second place in worldwide box-office receipts for 1935. While some dance critics maintain that Swing Time contained a finer set of dances, Top Hat remains, to this day, the partnership's best-known work.
An American dancer, Jerry Travers comes to London to star in a show produced by the bumbling Horace Hardwick. While practicing a tap dance routine in his hotel bedroom, he awakens Dale Tremont on the floor below, she storms upstairs to complain, whereupon Jerry falls hopelessly in love with her and proceeds to pursue her all over London. Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace, married to her friend Madge. Following the success of Jerry's opening night in London, Jerry follows Dale to Venice, where she is visiting Madge and modelling/promoting the gowns created by Alberto Beddini, a dandified Italian fashion designer with a penchant for malapropisms. Jerry proposes to Dale, while still believing that Jerry is Horace, is disgusted that her friend's husband could behave in such a manner and agrees instead to marry Alberto. Bates, Horace's meddling English valet, disguises himself as a priest and conducts the ceremony. On a trip in a gondola, Jerry manages to convince Dale and they return to the hotel where the previous confusion is cleared up.
The reconciled couple dance off into the Venetian sunset, to the tune of "The Piccolino". Top Hat began filming on April 1, 1935, cost $620,000 to make. Shooting ended in June and the first public previews were held in July; these led to cuts of ten minutes in the last portion of the film: the carnival sequence and the gondola parade, filmed to show off the huge set were cut. A further four minutes were cut before its premiere at the Radio City Music Hall, where it broke all records, went on to gross $3 million on its initial release, became RKO's most profitable film of the 1930s. After Mutiny on the Bounty, it made more money than any other film released in 1935. Dwight Taylor was the principal screenwriter in this, the first screenplay written specially for Astaire and Rogers. Astaire reacted negatively to the first drafts, complaining that "it is patterned too after The Gay Divorcee", "I am cast as... a sort of objectionable young man without charm or sympathy or humour". Allan Scott, for whom this movie served as his first major project, who would go on to serve on six of the Astaire-Rogers pictures, was hired by Sandrich to do the rewrites and never worked with Taylor, with Sandrich acting as script editor and advisor throughout.
The Hays Office insisted on only minor changes, including the most quoted line of dialogue from the film: Beddini's motto: "For the women the kiss, for the men the sword" which ran: "For the men the sword, for the women the whip." Of his role in the creation of Top Hat, Taylor recalled that with Sandrich and Berlin he shared "a kind of childlike excitement. The whole style of the picture can be summed up in the word inconsequentiality; when I left RKO a year Mark said to me,'You will never again see so much of yourself on the screen.'" On the film's release, the script was panned by many critics, who alleged it was a rewrite of The Gay Divorcee. This was composer Irving Berlin's first complete film score since 1930 and he negotiated a unique contract, retaining the copyrights to the score with a guarantee of ten percent of the profits if the film earned in excess of $1,250,000. Eight songs from the original score were discarded as they were not considered to advance the film's plot. One of these, "Get Thee Behind Me, Satan", was used in Follow the Fleet.
All five songs selected became major hits and, in the September 28, 1935 broadcast of Your Hit Parade, all five featured in the top fifteen songs selected for that week. Astaire recalled. Astaire had never met Berlin before this film, although he had danced on stage to some of his tunes as early as 1915. There ensued a lifelong friendship with Berlin contributing to more Astaire films than any other composer. Of his experience with Astaire in Top Hat Berlin wrote: "He's a real inspiration for a writer. I'd never have written Top Hat without him, he makes you feel so secure."As Berlin could not read or write music, could only pick out tunes on a specially designed piano that transposed keys automatically, he required an assistant to make up his piano parts. Hal Borne – Astaire's rehearsal pianist – performed this role in Top Hat and recalled working nights with him in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel: "Berlin went'Heaven...' and I went dah dah dee'I'm in Heaven' (da
Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets, it became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent. In some ways analogous to music hall from Victorian Britain, a typical American vaudeville performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts have included popular and classical musicians, dancers, trained animals, ventriloquists, strongmen and male impersonators, illustrated songs, one-act plays or scenes from plays, lecturing celebrities and movies. A vaudeville performer is referred to as a "vaudevillian". Vaudeville developed from many sources including the concert saloon, freak shows, dime museums, literary American burlesque.
Called "the heart of American show business", vaudeville was one of the most popular types of entertainment in North America for several decades. The origin of the term is obscure, but is explained as being derived from the French expression voix de ville. A second speculation is that it comes from the 15th-century songs on satire by poet Olivier Basselin, "Vaux de Vire". In his Connections television series, science historian James Burke argues that the term is a corruption of the French "Vau de Vire", an area known for its bawdy drinking songs and where Basselin lived. Some, preferred the earlier term "variety" to what manager Tony Pastor called its "sissy and Frenchified" successor. Thus, vaudeville was marketed as "variety" well into the 20th century. With its first subtle appearances within the early 1860s, vaudeville was not a common form of entertainment; the form evolved from the concert saloon and variety hall into its mature form throughout the 1870s and 1880s. This more gentle form was known as "Polite Vaudeville".
In the years before the American Civil War, entertainment existed on a different scale. Variety theatre existed before 1860 in Europe and elsewhere. In the US, as early as the first decades of the 19th century, theatregoers could enjoy a performance consisting of Shakespeare plays, singing and comedy; as the years progressed, people seeking diversified amusement found an increasing number of ways to be entertained. Vaudeville was characterized by traveling companies touring through towns. A handful of circuses toured the country. In the 1840s, the minstrel show, another type of variety performance, "the first emanation of a pervasive and purely American mass culture", grew to enormous popularity and formed what Nick Tosches called "the heart of 19th-century show business". A significant influence came from Dutch minstrels and comedians. Medicine shows traveled the countryside offering programs of comedy, music and other novelties along with displays of tonics and miracle elixirs, while "Wild West" shows provided romantic vistas of the disappearing frontier, complete with trick riding and drama.
Vaudeville incorporated these various itinerant amusements into a stable, institutionalized form centered in America's growing urban hubs. In the early 1880s, impresario Tony Pastor, a circus ringmaster turned theatre manager, capitalized on middle class sensibilities and spending power when he began to feature "polite" variety programs in several of his New York City theatres; the usual date given for the "birth" of vaudeville is October 24, 1881 at New York's Fourteenth Street Theatre, when Pastor famously staged the first bill of self-proclaimed "clean" vaudeville in New York City. Hoping to draw a potential audience from female and family-based shopping traffic uptown, Pastor barred the sale of liquor in his theatres, eliminated bawdy material from his shows, offered gifts of coal and hams to attendees. Pastor's experiment proved successful, other managers soon followed suit. B. F. Keith took the next step, starting in Boston, where he built an empire of theatres and brought vaudeville to the US and Canada.
E. F. Albee, adoptive grandfather of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee, managed the chain to its greatest success. Circuits such as those managed by Keith-Albee provided vaudeville's greatest economic innovation and the principal source of its industrial strength, they enabled a chain of allied vaudeville houses that remedied the chaos of the single-theatre booking system by contracting acts for regional and national tours. These could be lengthened from a few weeks to two years. Albee gave national prominence to vaudeville's trumpeting "polite" entertainment, a commitment to entertainment inoffensive to men and children. Acts that violated this ethos were admonished and threatened with expulsion from the week's remaining performances or were canceled altogether. In spite of such threats, performers flouted this censorship to the delight of the audience members whose sensibilities were supposedly
RKO Pictures is an American film production and distribution company. In its original incarnation, as RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. it was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater chain and Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Offices of America studio were brought together under the control of the Radio Corporation of America in October 1928. RCA chief David Sarnoff engineered the merger to create a market for the company's sound-on-film technology, RCA Photophone. By the mid-1940s, the studio was under the control of investor Floyd Odlum. RKO has long been renowned for its cycle of musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the mid- to late 1930s. Actors Katharine Hepburn and Robert Mitchum had their first major successes at the studio. Cary Grant was a mainstay for years; the work of producer Val Lewton's low-budget horror unit and RKO's many ventures into the field now known as film noir have been acclaimed after the fact, by film critics and historians.
The studio produced two of the most famous films in motion picture history: King Kong and Citizen Kane. RKO was responsible for notable co-productions such as It's a Wonderful Life and Notorious, it distributed many celebrated films by animation producer Walt Disney and leading independent producer Samuel Goldwyn. Maverick industrialist Howard Hughes took over RKO in 1948. After years of disarray and decline under his control, the studio was acquired by the General Tire and Rubber Company in 1955; the original RKO Pictures ceased production in 1957 and was dissolved two years later. In 1981, broadcaster RKO General, the corporate heir, revived it as a production subsidiary, RKO Pictures Inc. In 1989, this business with its few remaining assets, the trademarks and remake rights to many classic RKO films, was sold to new owners, who now operate the small independent company RKO Pictures LLC. In October 1927, Warner Bros. released the first feature-length talking picture. Its success prompted Hollywood to convert from silent to sound film production en masse.
The Radio Corporation of America controlled an advanced optical sound-on-film system, Photophone developed by General Electric, RCA's parent company. However, its hopes of joining in the anticipated boom in sound movies faced a major hurdle: Warner Bros. and Fox, Hollywood's other vanguard sound studio, were financially and technologically aligned with ERPI, a subsidiary of AT&T's Western Electric division. The industry's two largest companies and Loew's/MGM, with two other major studios and First National, were poised to contract with ERPI for sound conversion as well. Seeking a customer for Photophone, in late 1927 David Sarnoff general manager of RCA, approached Joseph P. Kennedy about using the system for Kennedy's modest-sized studio, Film Booking Offices of America. Negotiations resulted in General Electric acquiring a substantial interest in FBO—Sarnoff had already conceived of a plan for the company to attain a central position in the film industry, maximizing Photophone revenue. Next on the agenda was securing a string of exhibition venues like those the leading Hollywood production companies owned.
Kennedy began investigating the possibility of such a purchase. Around that time, the large Keith-Albee-Orpheum circuit of theaters, built around the then-fading medium of live vaudeville, was attempting a transition to the movie business. In mid-1927, the filmmaking operations of Pathé and Cecil B. De Mille had united under KAO's control. Early in 1928, KAO general manager John J. Murdock, who had assumed the presidency of Pathé, turned to Kennedy as an adviser in consolidating the studio with De Mille's company, Producers Distributing Corporation; this was the relationship Kennedy sought. After an aborted attempt by Kennedy to bring yet another studio that had turned to him for help, First National, into the Photophone fold, RCA was ready to step back in: the company acquired Kennedy's stock in both FBO and the KAO theater business. On October 23, 1928, RCA announced the creation of the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corp. holding company, with Sarnoff as chairman of the board. Kennedy, who withdrew from his executive positions in the merged companies, kept Pathé separate from RKO and under his personal control.
RCA owned the governing stock interest in 22 percent. On January 25, 1929, the new company's production arm, presided over by former FBO vice-president Joseph I. Schnitzer, was unveiled as RKO Productions Inc. A week it filed for the trademark "Radio Pictures". Looking to get out of the film business the following year, Kennedy arranged in late 1930 for RKO to purchase Pathé from him. On January 29, 1931, Pathé, with its contract players, well-regarded newsreel operation, Culver City studio and backlot, was merged into RKO as Kennedy sold off the last of his stock in the company he had been instrumental in creating. RKO began production at the small facility FBO shared with Pathé in New York City while the main FBO studio in Hollywood was technologically refitted. In charge of production was William LeBaron, who had held the same position at FBO; the new company's two initial releases were musicals: The melodramatic Syncopation, which completed shooting before FBO was reincorporated as RKO, premiered on March 29, 1929.
The comedic Street Girl debuted July 30. This was billed as its first to be shot in Hollywood. A few nonsinging pictures followed. RKO spent on the lavish
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. referred to as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB, is an American entertainment company headquartered in Burbank, California and a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia. Founded in 1923, it has operations in film and video games and is one of the "Big Five" major American film studios, as well as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America; the company's name originated from the four founding Warner brothers: Harry, Albert and Jack Warner. Harry and Sam emigrated as young children with their parents to Canada from Krasnosielc, Poland. Jack, the youngest brother, was born in Ontario; the three elder brothers began in the movie theater business, having acquired a movie projector with which they showed films in the mining towns of Pennsylvania and Ohio. In the beginning and Albert Warner invested $150 to present Life of an American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery, they opened their first theater, the Cascade, in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1903. When the original building was in danger of being demolished, the modern Warner Bros. called the current building owners, arranged to save it.
The owners noted people across the country had asked them to protect it for its historical significance. In 1904, the Warners founded the Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Amusement & Supply Company, to distribute films. In 1912, Harry Warner hired. By the time of World War I they had begun producing films. In 1918 they opened the first Warner Brothers Studio on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Sam and Jack produced the pictures, while Harry and Albert, along with their auditor and now controller Chase, handled finance and distribution in New York City. During World War I their first nationally syndicated film, My Four Years in Germany, based on a popular book by former ambassador James W. Gerard, was released. On April 4, 1923, with help from money loaned to Harry by his banker Motley Flint, they formally incorporated as Warner Bros. Pictures, Incorporated; the first important deal was the acquisition of the rights to Avery Hopwood's 1919 Broadway play, The Gold Diggers, from theatrical impresario David Belasco.
However, Rin Tin Tin, a dog brought from France after World War I by an American soldier, established their reputation. Rin Tin Tin debuted in the feature; the movie was so successful. Rin Tin Tin became the studio's top star. Jack nicknamed him "The Mortgage Lifter" and the success boosted Darryl F. Zanuck's career. Zanuck became a top producer and between 1928 and 1933 served as Jack's right-hand man and executive producer, with responsibilities including day-to-day film production. More success came. Lubitsch's film The Marriage Circle was the studio's most successful film of 1924, was on The New York Times best list for that year. Despite the success of Rin Tin Tin and Lubitsch, Warner's remained a lesser studio. Sam and Jack decided to offer Broadway actor John Barrymore the lead role in Beau Brummel; the film was so successful. By the end of 1924, Warner Bros. was arguably Hollywood's most successful independent studio, where it competed with "The Big Three" Studios. As a result, Harry Warner—while speaking at a convention of 1,500 independent exhibitors in Milwaukee, Wisconsin—was able to convince the filmmakers to spend $500,000 in newspaper advertising, Harry saw this as an opportunity to establish theaters in cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
As the studio prospered, it gained backing from Wall Street, in 1924 Goldman Sachs arranged a major loan. With this new money, the Warners bought the pioneer Vitagraph Company which had a nationwide distribution system. In 1925, Warners' experimented in radio, establishing a successful radio station, KFWB, in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. was a pioneer of films with synchronized sound. In 1925, at Sam's urging, Warner's agreed to add this feature to their productions. By February 1926, the studio reported a net loss of $333,413. After a long period denying Sam's request for sound, Harry agreed to change, as long as the studio's use of synchronized sound was for background music purposes only; the Warners signed a contract with the sound engineer company Western Electric and established Vitaphone. In 1926, Vitaphone began making films with music and effects tracks, most notably, in the feature Don Juan starring John Barrymore; the film was silent. To hype Don Juan's release, Harry acquired the large Piccadilly Theater in Manhattan, New York City, renamed it Warners' Theatre.
Don Juan premiered at the Warners' Theatre in New York on August 6, 1926. Throughout the early history of film distribution, theater owners hired orchestras to attend film showings, where they provided soundtracks. Through Vitaphone, Warner Bros. produced eight shorts in 1926. Many film production companies questioned the necessity. Don Juan did not recoup its production cost and Lubitsch left for MGM. By April 1927, the Big Five studios had ruined Warner's, Western Electric renewed Warner's Vit