The First Sunday of Lent Intertitle

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FINDING HIS VOICE is an informative 1929 toon from Max Fleischer, designed to show film exhibitors how Western Electric’s sound-on-film system worked. I guess you would have to shepherd the exhibitors into a room to show them this, since if they weren’t already converts to sound they’d have no way to watch this in theor own theatres.

“Talkie” and “Mutie,” two characters created from roles of celluloid, debate the sound process — since Mutie can’t talk, his speeches are represented the old-school way, as titles. He also wears a gag and uses sign language, although I would be surprised if his rapid hand movements yield to decoding.

Then a professorial type gives a rather complicated lecture, delivered in hilariously hesitant style — a bit of rare naturalism for a Fleischer toon. Untrained, stilted delivery — the ghost in the machine.

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The film offers a rare glimpse, in graphic form, of the much-discussed sound-proof booth in which early sound cameras were imprisoned, and an even more unusual look at the mixing room, where sound from various microphones positioned around the set could be combined, live, into one balanced track (which, in 1929, would probably be the only mix the film received).


I’m giving up the Oscars for Lent!

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