Before Video: A History of the Non-Theatrical Film

By Anthony Slide | Go to book overview

SEVEN
The 1930s and 1940s

The introduction of the sound motion picture dominated both the theatrical and the non-theatrical film fields in the 1930s, and the course of the history of the latter was largely influenced by the pioneer in the introduction of sound to film, the Western Electric Company. The company had acquired the necessary components for the "talkies" to enhance its Bell Telephone system, but Western Electric was not unaware of the potential of sound films and experimented with both sound-on- film and sound-on-disc motion pictures in the 1920s. Although sound- on-film was ultimately adopted by the film industry, the first commercially successful "talkie" was the 1927 Al Jolson vehicle The Jazz Singer, utilizing sound-on-disc provided by Western Electric.

To market its non-telephone-related products, in 1927 Western Electric created a new company, Electrical Research Products, Inc. (ERPI), which licensed the use of sound equipment and also provided acoustical engineering advice to those in the industry. In March 1929, ERPI founded a non-theatrical division to promote the use of sound in religious, educational, and other non-commercial film projects. The following year, the ERPI staff led by Frederick L. Devereux and Dr. V. C. Arnspiger began production on a series of 35mm sound-on-film shorts dealing with athletics, social sciences and vocational guidance. Unfortunately few if any schools were equipped with 35mm sound-on-film projection equipment; and until 1934, when 16mm sound-on-film projectors were intro-

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Before Video: A History of the Non-Theatrical Film
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions to the Study of Mass Media and Communications ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Notes xii
  • One Origins 1
  • Notes 16
  • Two Chicago-- the Non-Theatrical Film Capital of the World 19
  • Notes 31
  • Three the Eastman Kodak Connection 33
  • Notes 43
  • Four Specialization 45
  • Five Film in Education and Religion 59
  • Notes 73
  • Six the Chronicles of America 75
  • Notes 87
  • Seven the 1930s and 1940s 89
  • Notes 105
  • Eight Decades of Progress and Prosperity 107
  • Notes 120
  • Nine the Waning Years 123
  • Notes 136
  • Appendix A: Major Non- Theatrical Distributors of the 1920s 137
  • Appendix B: Major Non-Theatrical 16mm Distributors of the 1930s 141
  • Appendix C: Major Non-Theatrical 16mm Distributors of the 1940s 145
  • Appendix D: Useful Non-Theatrical Addresses 151
  • Selected Bibliography 155
  • Index 161
  • About the Author 172
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