Gladys Brockwell was an American actress whose career began during the silent film era. Gladys Lindeman was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 26, 1894, her mother, Lillian Lindeman, a chorus girl turned actress, put her daughter on stage at an early age. By the time she reached her middle teens, she was a veteran and taking on dramatic leading roles, she took on the stage name Gladys Brockwell, made her film debut in 1913 for Lubin Studios and within a short time was starring in a number of films. Developing her craft, she moved to Hollywood where she garnered a role in the acclaimed 1922 version of Oliver Twist and in The Hunchback of Notre Dame the following year. By the mid-1920s she was past the age of thirty and although still given top female billing, Brockwell performed in supporting roles. Regarded as one of the finest character actresses of the day who not only adapted to the new talkies but excelled in them, her first appearance in a "talkie" came in 1928 in Lights of New York.
Her performance received strong reviews at the time of the film's release and as well by present-day critics of the preserved film. A Warner Bros. feature-length production, Lights of New York was filmed with microphones strategically hidden around the sets, creating the first motion picture released with synchronic dialogue. She was signed by Warner Bros. and was looking forward to continued success in talkies. Brockwell married actor Robert B. Broadwell on March 3, 1915, they separated on September 1, 1915, due to "Much quarreling and unpleasantness generally," as she told the court when she sought a divorce in March 1918. "We never seemed to agree on anything," she added. Los Angeles Judge Jackson granted her divorce decree on March 1918, on grounds of desertion. On June 27, 1929, Brockwell and a friend, Thomas Brennan, were involved in an automobile accident near Calabasas, California, she was crushed beneath the automobile driven by Brennan, an advertising man from Los Angeles, California.
The auto went over a 75-foot embankment on the Ventura Highway near Calabasas. Injured, four blood transfusions were performed in an effort to save her life, the last just before her death. Brennan recovered after sustaining serious injuries, he said. Following a second blood transfusion, Brockwell appeared to improve until peritonitis set in from her internal injuries a puncture of her large intestine. After two more transfusions, Brockwell died at 7 p.m. on July 1929 at Osteopathic Hospital. No negligence was placed on Brennan, still recovering in the hospital, her final film, The Drake Case, was directed by Edward Laemmle while she was on loan to Universal Pictures, was released posthumously in September 1929. Albert Lea Evening Tribune, "Gladys Brockwell, Picture Actress, Dies of Injuries", page 1 New York Times, "Gladys Brockwell Dies" page 14 Gladys Brockwell on IMDb Gladys Brockwell at AllMovie
Wheeler Vivian Oakman was an American film actor. Oakman was born in Washington, D. C. and educated in that city's schools. He grew up in Fairfax, after moving there from Washington. Before acting in films, Oakman was active in stock theater in the eastern United States. Oakman appeared in over 280 films between 1912 and 1948. In silent films, he was a leading man. Among his leading ladies were Priscilla Dean, Kathlyn Williams, Colleen Moore and Annette Kellerman, his most successful movie was Mickey, a 1918 comedy-drama, in which he played the love interest of Mabel Normand. By the time talkies came in, his career was in decline, he portrayed villains or henchman, had a leading role. In 1932, he appeared alongside Buck Jones in John Wayne in Texas Cyclone. Before his death, Oakman was assistant manager of a North Hollywood theater. From 1920 to 1926, Oakman was married to actress Priscilla Dean, his costar in Outside the Law and The Virgin of Stamboul; some years after their divorce, he married Mary Eloise Timothy.
Oakman died in Van Nuys, California at the age of 59. He was interred at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park in California. There is no marker on his grave. Wheeler Oakman on IMDb Works by or about Wheeler Oakman at Internet Archive Wheeler Oakman at Find a Grave
The Film Daily
The Film Daily was a daily publication that existed from 1915 to 1970 in the United States. For 55 years, Film Daily was the main source of news on the television industries, it covered the latest trade news, film reviews, financial updates, information on court cases and union difficulties, equipment breakthroughs. The publication was originated by Wid Gunning in 1913, the publication retained "Wid" in the title until 1922; the publications were broken into five parts: Part One: Wid's Film and Film Folk, 1915–1916, Wid's Independent Review of Feature Films, 1916–1918. The Media History Digital Library has scans of the archive of Film Daily from 1918–1948 available online and most years of the Film Daily Year Book from 1920 to 1951. Film Daily was best known for its annual year-end critics' poll, in which hundreds of professional movie critics from around the country submitted their votes for the best films of the year, which the magazine tallied and published as a top ten list, it was not uncommon for a film to win for a year that came after the year it first premiered, since the rollover date for each year's eligibility cycle was November 1 and the film was required to be in general release.
Gone with the Wind, for example, premiered in 1939 but didn't become eligible until 1941 when it switched from a roadshow format to a general release. No winner was named in 1950 because for that year only, separate categories were polled for Drama of the Year and Musical of the Year. Media History Digital Library
Vitaphone was a sound film system used for feature films and nearly 1,000 short subjects made by Warner Bros. and its sister studio First National from 1926 to 1931. Vitaphone was the last major analog sound-on-disc system and the only one, used and commercially successful; the soundtrack issued separately on phonograph records. The discs, recorded at 33 1⁄3 rpm and 16 inches in diameter, would be played on a turntable physically coupled to the projector motor while the film was being projected, achieving a frequency response of 4300 Hz. Many early talkies, such as The Jazz Singer, used the Vitaphone system; the name "Vitaphone" derived from the Latin and Greek words for "living" and "sound". The "Vitaphone" trademark was associated with cartoons and other short subjects that had optical soundtracks and did not use discs. In the early 1920s, Western Electric was developing both sound-on-film and sound-on-disc systems, aided by the purchase of Lee De Forest's Audion amplifier tube in 1913, consequent advances in public address systems, the first practical condenser microphone, which Western Electric engineer E.
C. Wente had created in 1916 and improved in 1922. De Forest debuted his own Phonofilm sound-on-film system in New York City on April 15, 1923, but due to the poor sound quality of Phonofilm and the impressive state-of-the-art sound heard in Western Electric's private demonstrations, the Warner Brothers decided to go forward with the industrial giant and the more familiar disc technology; the business was established at Western Electric's Bell Laboratories in New York City and acquired by Warner Bros. in April 1925. Warner Bros. introduced Vitaphone on August 5, 1926 with the premiere of their silent feature Don Juan, retrofitted with a symphonic musical score and sound effects. There was no spoken dialog; the feature was preceded by a program of short subjects with live-recorded sound, nearly all featuring classical instrumentalists and opera stars. The only "pop music" artist was guitarist Roy Smeck and the only actual "talkie" was the short film that opened the program: four minutes of introductory remarks by motion picture industry spokesman Will Hays.
Don Juan was able to draw huge sums of money at the box office, but was not able to match the expensive budget Warner Bros. put into the film's production. After its financial failure, Paramount head Adolph Zukor offered Sam Warner a deal as an executive producer for Paramount if he brought Vitaphone with him. Sam, not wanting to take any more of Harry Warner's refusal to move forward with using sound in future Warner films, agreed to accept Zukor's offer, but the deal died after Paramount lost money in the wake of Rudolph Valentino's death. Harry agreed to accept Sam's demands. Sam pushed ahead with a new Vitaphone feature starring Al Jolson, the Broadway dynamo who had scored a big hit with early Vitaphone audiences in A Plantation Act, a musical short released on October 7, 1926. On October 6, 1927, The Jazz Singer premiered at the Warner Theater in New York City, broke box-office records, established Warner Bros. as a major player in Hollywood, is traditionally credited with single-handedly launching the talkie revolution.
At first, the production of Vitaphone shorts and the recording of orchestral scores was a New York phenomenon, taking advantage of the bountiful supply of stage and concert hall talent there, but the Warners soon migrated some of this activity to their more spacious facilities on the West Coast. Dance band leader Henry Halstead is given credit for starring in the first Vitaphone short subject filmed in Hollywood instead of New York. Carnival Night in Paris featured the Henry Halstead Orchestra and a cast of hundreds of costumed dancers in a Carnival atmosphere. From the perspective of the cast and crew on the sound stage, there was little difference between filming with Vitaphone and a sound-on-film system. In the early years of sound, the noisy cameras and their operators were enclosed in soundproofed booths with small windows made of thick glass. Cables suspended the microphones in fixed positions just above camera range, sometimes they were hidden behind objects in the scene; the recording machines were located in a separate building to isolate them from sound stage floor vibrations and other undesirable influences.
The audio signal was sent from an on-stage monitoring and control booth to the recording room over a heavy shielded cable. Synchronization was maintained by driving all the cameras and recorders with synchronous electric motors powered from a common source; when music and sound effects were being recorded to accompany existing film footage, the film was projected so that the conductor could synchronize the music with the visual cues and it was the projector, rather than a camera, electrically interlocked with the recording machine. Except for the unusual disc size and speed, the physical record-making process was the same one employed by contemporary record companies to make smaller discs for home use; the recording lathe cut an audio-signal-modulated spiral groove into the polished surface of a thick round slab of wax-like material rotating on a turntable. The wax was much too soft to be played in the usual way, but a specially supported and guided pickup could be used to play it back in order to detect any sound problems that might have gone unnoticed during the filming.
If problems were found, the scene could be re-shot while everything was still in place, minimizing additional expense. The lightest playback caused some damage to the wax master, so it was customary to employ two recorders and record two
A sound film is a motion picture with synchronized sound, or sound technologically coupled to image, as opposed to a silent film. The first known public exhibition of projected sound films took place in Paris in 1900, but decades passed before sound motion pictures were made commercially practical. Reliable synchronization was difficult to achieve with the early sound-on-disc systems, amplification and recording quality were inadequate. Innovations in sound-on-film led to the first commercial screening of short motion pictures using the technology, which took place in 1923; the primary steps in the commercialization of sound cinema were taken in the mid- to late 1920s. At first, the sound films which included synchronized dialogue, known as "talking pictures", or "talkies", were shorts; the earliest feature-length movies with recorded sound included effects. The first feature film presented as a talkie was The Jazz Singer, released in October 1927. A major hit, it was made with Vitaphone, at the time the leading brand of sound-on-disc technology.
Sound-on-film, would soon become the standard for talking pictures. By the early 1930s, the talkies were a global phenomenon. In the United States, they helped secure Hollywood's position as one of the world's most powerful cultural/commercial centers of influence. In Europe, the new development was treated with suspicion by many filmmakers and critics, who worried that a focus on dialogue would subvert the unique aesthetic virtues of soundless cinema. In Japan, where the popular film tradition integrated silent movie and live vocal performance, talking pictures were slow to take root. Conversely, in India, sound was the transformative element that led to the rapid expansion of the nation's film industry; the idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as the concept of cinema itself. On February 27, 1888, a couple of days after photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge gave a lecture not far from the laboratory of Thomas Edison, the two inventors met. Muybridge claimed that on this occasion, six years before the first commercial motion picture exhibition, he proposed a scheme for sound cinema that would combine his image-casting zoopraxiscope with Edison's recorded-sound technology.
No agreement was reached, but within a year Edison commissioned the development of the Kinetoscope a "peep-show" system, as a visual complement to his cylinder phonograph. The two devices were brought together as the Kinetophone in 1895, but individual, cabinet viewing of motion pictures was soon to be outmoded by successes in film projection. In 1899, a projected sound-film system known as Cinemacrophonograph or Phonorama, based on the work of Swiss-born inventor François Dussaud, was exhibited in Paris. An improved cylinder-based system, Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre, was developed by Clément-Maurice Gratioulet and Henri Lioret of France, allowing short films of theater and ballet excerpts to be presented at the Paris Exposition in 1900; these appear to be the first publicly exhibited films with projection of both image and recorded sound. Phonorama and yet another sound-film system—Théâtroscope—were presented at the Exposition. Three major problems persisted, leading to motion pictures and sound recording taking separate paths for a generation.
The primary issue was synchronization: pictures and sound were recorded and played back by separate devices, which were difficult to start and maintain in tandem. Sufficient playback volume was hard to achieve. While motion picture projectors soon allowed film to be shown to large theater audiences, audio technology before the development of electric amplification could not project satisfactorily to fill large spaces. There was the challenge of recording fidelity; the primitive systems of the era produced sound of low quality unless the performers were stationed directly in front of the cumbersome recording devices, imposing severe limits on the sort of films that could be created with live-recorded sound. Cinematic innovators attempted to cope with the fundamental synchronization problem in a variety of ways. An increasing number of motion picture systems relied on gramophone records—known as sound-on-disc technology. In 1902, Léon Gaumont demonstrated his sound-on-disc Chronophone, involving an electrical connection he had patented, to the French Photographic Society.
Four years Gaumont introduced the Elgéphone, a compressed-air amplification system based on the Auxetophone, developed by British inventors Horace Short and Charles Parsons. Despite high expectations, Gaumont's sound innovations had only limited commercial success—though improvements, they still did not satisfactorily address the three basic issues with sound film and were expensive as well. For some years, American inventor E. E. Norton's Cameraphone was the primary competitor to the Gaumont system. In 1913, Edison introduced a new cylinder-based synch-sound apparatus known, just like his 1895 system, as the Kinetophone; the phonograph was connected by an intricate arrangement of pulleys to the film projector, allowing—under ideal conditions—for synchronization. However, conditions were ra
Cullen Landis was an American motion picture actor and director whose career began in the early years of the silent film era. James Cullen Landis was the middle of three siblings raised by Lulan and Margaret Landis in Nashville, where his father supported his family as a stock broker; as a boy, James was a train enthusiast and dreamed to be a railroad engineer. Though the ambition faded, his interest in railroads did not, some years he helped design for himself a model train set powered by steam. Cullen began working in the fledgling film industry at age 18 around the time his older sister, Margaret Landis, appeared in her first film. Landis began as a movie director, only turning to acting after his lead player broke a leg and it was discovered that the actor’s costumes fit him, he went on to become one of the more popular lead actors of the silent era, appearing in some one hundred films over 14 years. In 1928 Cullen Landis starred in Lights of New York, he confided in a friend that talkies were perfect for musicals and that he was no "song and dance man".
He left Hollywood for Detroit in 1930 to produce and direct industrial films for automobile companies. During World War II, he served as a captain with US Army Signal Corps producing training films in the South Pacific. By war's end he was twice promoted to major. In the post war years he made documentaries for the US State Department that took him to the far corners of the world. James Cullen Landis died on August 28, 1975, aged 79, at a nursing home in Bloomfield, three months after the death of his wife, Jane. Cullen Landis on IMDb Cullen Landis at Find a Grave Cullen Landis at AllMovie Cullen Landis at Virtual History
The Jazz Singer
The Jazz Singer is a 1927 American musical drama film directed by Alan Crosland. It is the first feature-length motion picture with not only a synchronized recorded music score but lip-synchronous singing and speech in several isolated sequences, its release ended the silent film era. It was produced by Warner Bros. with its Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. The film features six songs performed by Al Jolson, it is based on the play of the same name by Samson Raphaelson which itself was adapted from one of his short stories titled "The Day of Atonement". The film depicts the fictional story of Jakie Rabinowitz, a young man who defies the traditions of his devout Jewish family. After singing popular tunes in a beer garden he is punished by his father, a hazzan, prompting Jakie to run away from home; some years now calling himself Jack Robin, he has become a talented jazz singer. He attempts to build a career as an entertainer but his professional ambitions come into conflict with the demands of his home and heritage.
Darryl F. Zanuck won an Honorary Academy Award for producing the film. In 1996, The Jazz Singer was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of "culturally or aesthetically significant" motion pictures. In 1998, the film was chosen in voting conducted by the American Film Institute as one of the best American films of all time, ranking at number ninety. Cantor Rabinowitz wants his son to carry on the generations-old family tradition and become a cantor at the synagogue in the Jewish ghetto of Manhattan's Lower East Side, but down at the beer garden, thirteen-year-old Jakie Rabinowitz is performing so-called jazz tunes. Moisha Yudelson tells Jakie's father, who drags him home. Jakie clings to his mother, Sara, as his father declares, "I'll teach him better than to debase the voice God gave him!" Jakie threatens: "If you whip me again, I'll run away—and never come back!" After the whipping, Jakie kisses his mother goodbye and, runs away. At the Yom Kippur service, Rabinowitz mournfully tells a fellow celebrant, "My son was to stand at my side and sing tonight—but now I have no son."
As the sacred Kol Nidre is sung, Jakie sneaks back home to retrieve a picture of his loving mother. About 10 years Jakie has changed his name to the more assimilated Jack Robin. Jack is called up from his table at a cabaret to perform on stage. Jack wows the crowd with his energized rendition. Afterward, he is introduced to the beautiful a musical theater dancer. "There are lots of jazz singers, but you have a tear in your voice," she says, offering to help with his budding career. With her help, Jack gets his big break: a leading part in the new musical April Follies. Back at the family home Jack left long ago, the elder Rabinowitz instructs a young student in the traditional cantorial art. Jack appears and tries to explain his point of view, his love of modern music, but the appalled cantor banishes him: "I never want to see you again—you jazz singer!" As he leaves, Jack makes a prediction: "I came home with a heart full of love, but you don't want to understand. Some day you'll understand, the same as Mama does."
Two weeks after Jack's expulsion from the family home and 24 hours before opening night of April Follies on Broadway, Jack's father falls gravely ill. Jack is asked to choose between the show and duty to his family and faith: in order to sing the Kol Nidre for Yom Kippur in his father's place, he will have to miss the big premiere; that evening, the eve of Yom Kippur, Yudleson tells the Jewish elders, "For the first time, we have no Cantor on the Day of Atonement." Lying in his bed and gaunt, Cantor Rabinowitz tells Sara that he cannot perform on the most sacred of holy days: "My son came to me in my dreams—he sang Kol Nidre so beautifully. If he would only sing like that tonight—surely he would be forgiven." As Jack prepares for a dress rehearsal by applying blackface makeup, he and Mary discuss his career aspirations and the family pressures they agree he must resist. Sara and Yudleson come to Jack's dressing room to plea for him to come to his father and sing in his stead. Jack is torn, he delivers his blackface performance, Sara sees her son onstage for the first time.
She has a tearful revelation: "Here he belongs. If God wanted him in His house, He would have kept him there. He's not my boy anymore—he belongs to the whole world now." Afterward, Jack returns to the Rabinowitz home. He kneels at his father's bedside and the two converse fondly: "My son—I love you." Sara suggests. Mary arrives with the producer, who warns Jack that he'll never work on Broadway again if he fails to appear on opening night. Jack can't decide. Mary challenges him: "Were you lying when you said your career came before everything?" Jack is unsure if he can replace his father: "I haven't sung Kol Nidre since I was a little boy." His mother tells him, "Do what is in your heart, Jakie—if you sing and God is not in your voice—your father will know." The producer cajoles Jack: "You're a jazz singer at heart!" At the theater, the opening night audience is told. Jack sings the Kol Nidre in his father's place, his father listens from his deathbed to the nearby ceremony and speaks his last, forgiving words: "Mama, we have our son again."
The spirit of Jack's father is shown at his side in the synagogue. Mary has come to listen, she sees how Jack has reconciled the division in his soul: "a jazz singer—singing to his God." "The season passes—and time heals—the show goes on." Jack, a