June 1, 1914
There was much excitement in St. John’s on June 1, 1914 the talk in the town was all about the Casino Theatre on Henry Street, audiences at the old theatre were treated to a “talking picture” that united for the first time, sight and sound, through “talking” motion pictures.
The St. John’s, newspaper, The Evening Telegram declared that this new technology created by the American Inventor Thomas A. Edison, just one year previous, known as the ‘Edison Kinetophone’:
“has taken its place among the high class theatrical attractions now touring Canada and the United States, and is successfully competing with the largest of dramatic and musical organizations.”
Those attending the premier of the first talking pictures in Newfoundland were enthusiastic in their praise:
“it was with a general feeling that the kinetophone has scored …. the most novel success of this new mechanical form of entertainment.”
Audiences were delighted, the evening began with “the talking pictures being preceded by a film shown in the ordinary way with musical accompaniment … “. Typically, all theatres had pianos and or organs and the musician played along with the scenes as they appeared on the screen.
Following the silent film “the talkies (were) thrown on, music and voice, the clear natural tones of the actors as they appear in the different subjects is truly a marvel of genius.”
There were three presentations. In one of the subjects Sprigs from the Emerald Isle the dialogue songs and pipe music (were) so real so vivid in its presentation that the audience forgets the mechanical contrivance and last night broke into loud and prolonged applause.
The night also featured an interview with Baseball Manager John J. McGraw, manager of the New York Giants who won the National League pennant in 1913 and ended with with another talkie that scored a hit the “Four Blacksmiths” a vaudeville singing and talking act.
The reviewer for the Evening Telegram, declared that this new form of entertainment – these talking pictures would be a success. He wrote:
“Every member of the audience last night spoke in most appreciative terms of the talking pictures in all their aspects the synchronization and marvelous record of human voice … it is safe to say that many of the pictures should be repeated before the company closes their engagement.”
The enthusiasm of the audiences in St. John’s was not shared by Thomas Edison the inventor. In 1913 he had produced thirteen talking pictures but by 1915 he had abandoned sound motion pictures.
It was discovered that because the sound portion was played on a phonograph that was separate from the projector, it was difficult to get the sound and the motion synchronized perfectly. Audiences found this annoying. Edison was an inventor, he was not a very creative film producer, many people thought his films were boring. Each lasted only six minutes, and portrayed scenes from famous plays or vaudeville acts.
The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Corp. in 1915 may also have contributed to Edison’s departure from sound films, since this act deprived him of patent protection for his motion picture inventions.
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