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The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk (2007)

The nearly 30-year struggle to bring sound to motion pictures is the backdrop for this insightful documentary. Film historians, and survivors from the era take the audience from the early ... See full summary »


Robert S. Bader (as Robert Bader), Tim Prokop


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Hunt Mark Hunt ... Narrator (voice)
Ron Hutchinson Ron Hutchinson ... Himself - The Vitaphone Project
Scott Eyman Scott Eyman ... Himself - Author 'The Speed of Sound'
Rudy Behlmer ... Himself - Film Historian / Author
Jack Stanley Jack Stanley ... Himself - Thomas Edison Menlo Park Museum
Robert Gitt Robert Gitt ... Himself - UCLA Film & Television Archive
Emily Thompson Emily Thompson ... Herself - Professor of History, Princeton University
Jonathan Kuntz Jonathan Kuntz ... Himself - UCLA Film Historian
Jack Warner Jr. Jack Warner Jr. ... Himself - Son of Jack L. Warner (archive footage)
A.C. Lyles ... Himself - Producer, Paramount Pictures
Ben Burtt ... Himself - Sound Designer / Director
Leonard Maltin ... Himself - Film Critic / Historian
Eileen McHugh Eileen McHugh ... Herself - Director, Case Research Lab Museum
Vince Giordano ... Himself - Band Leader, 'Vince Giordano's Nighthawks'
Thelma White ... Herself (archive footage)


The nearly 30-year struggle to bring sound to motion pictures is the backdrop for this insightful documentary. Film historians, and survivors from the era take the audience from the early failed attempts by scientists and inventors, to the joined forces of Western Electric and Warner Bros. who, with their Vitaphone process,revolutionized the entertainment industry, perhaps more than any time before or since. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

2 September 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El amanecer del sonido - Como las películas aprendieron a hablar See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Features Comrade X (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

The Dawn of Sound...is a fine doc about the transition from silents to the talkies
3 December 2012 | by tavmSee all my reviews

This latter-day documentary about the transition from silent to sound on film was produced with the intent for inclusion in The Jazz Singer DVD set since that landmark movie was the center of that change. One person I did not know about beforehand was that of Thomas Case who first worked on Lee De Forest's Phonofilms then on William Fox's Movietone process. Of course, most of the lion's share of the story is on the Warner Brothers' contribution particularly that of Sam who was a champion of the Vitaphone sound-on-disc process that led to The Jazz Singer's success. Unfortunately, he died before that day's film premiere so it was a mixed victory for siblings Harry, Al, and Jack. Still, they reaped the benefits of Sam's labor and became one with the Majors to this day. I also loved hearing Rose Marie's comments about her child self's debut in those Vitaphone shorts and historian Leonard Maltin's observation about the aftermath of many silent stars' responses like that of Charlie Chaplin who resisted talking until he made The Great Dictator in 1940. So on that note, The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk is well worth seeing.

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