“You can watch either the sound or silent version of this movie…”


☞ We are now familiar with being able to watch a 3D movie either in 3D or 2D (the ticket for the latter is of course cheaper). Not many of us realise that, during the transition from silent to sound cinema, movie viewers were given a related choice: between the silent and sound versions of some movies. The following short article deals with how Hitchcock deals with the transition. Sound, of course, brought a change in the careers of some silent actors, such as the case of the Czechoslovakian Anny Ondra below, whose career in England did not survive her first movie that also had a sound version in English, Hitchcock’s Blackmail (her speech for the movie had to be dubbed, as her pronunciation was considered to be unacceptable to an English audience).



“Most theaters in America seem by now to have equipped themselves for digital projection. But just a year or two ago, distributors had to send out digital copies of their movies to some venues and celluloid prints to others. As it hasn’t proven quite the revelation its boosters had hoped, the latest wave of 3D pictures still has to deal with the fact that certain theaters accept a higher-tech version, but most need a lower-tech one. In 1929, cinema found itself in much the same technical situation, but regarding sound. Even as Alfred Hitchcock began shooting his tenth film, Blackmail, as a traditional silent, British International Pictures decided he should join the popular “talkies” just then opening in England. This required Hitchcock to deliver both a sound and a silent version of the picture — and to incorporate sound recording on the fly.”

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