The Evolution of Sound

One of the technological advancements that intrigued me the most from what we have learned this semester is the evolution of sound. Although we take sound in film for granted today, this was not the case when films first started being made at the end of the nineteenth century. I think that it is important to learn about the process of how sound came to be what it is today because it shows the dedication that moviemakers put into the creation of a project that helped shape cultures across the globe, especially the American culture. I particularly enjoyed learning about the different ways in which producers struggled in trying to produce sound, such as in hiding microphones, yet still picking up sound, or in controlling volume. One example of this is present in the movie Singing in the Rain, which came out in 1952. When trying to film the movie, the character Lina Lamont is having trouble understanding that the microphones present only pick up sound when it is in close proximity. I have included a link to a video below for reference. When the film was aired, it produced a great response from the audience as it was very comical to hear which sounds were surprising the loudest, such as Lina’s pearls, compared to other more appropriate sounds such as dialogue, and also how some of the speech got lost.

One thing that I thought was very important was the fact that the emergence of sound also allowed for the creation of whole new genres of film. Some of these included musicals, of course, and also screwball comedies and gangster films. Sound also paved the way for horror movies by offering a crucial component that helped enhance the “edge of your seat” effects on the viewer. I find it fascinating that before films had sound embedded in them, orchestras used to accompany films in the audience.

From the films that we had the opportunity to watch in class, I found that sound was particularly important, or played an interesting role, in Bringing Up Baby and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In Bringing Up Baby, the producers played with sound in a way such that the audience could understand that the leopard was present without actually showing the animal on screen. The were able to do this because the audience could hear the roar of the leopard in the background. This would never have been possible without the development of sound. In Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the musical numbers and meanings behind conversations would not have been possible without the use of sound. Lorelei and Dorothy perform several acts that are extravagant and simply would not have had the same effect if the audience could not hear the lyrics and thrilling music. This is also true for the musical number that the olympic team carries out. Sound was also crucial for the conversations between the characters. Dorothy offers advice to Lorelei on several occasions, and the two of them also work together to uncover a scheme that Gus Edmond’s father, with the help of his PI, Ernie Malone, has planted against Lorelei. This complicated situation would have been impossible for the audience to understand without knowing what each character was thinking, which was made known through their conversations with each other.

I think that sound plays a key role in what movies are today and I found it very interesting to learn about the process of how it came to be what we know it as today.

 

Singing in the Rain Lina Lamont scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTFCctdiS04

 

Sources

“Sutori.” Sutori, www.sutori.com/story/evolution-of-sound-technology-in-film–QLsHDeWcXurhpqmxmvSjW2zx.

Bringing Laura to Life

In order to create a film adaptation of a movie, the moviemaking crew has to consider the many aspects that allow a written story to be represented in visual form. The difference between a book and a movie is that a book allows for much more imagination from the reader. On the other hand, movies portray everything for the viewer, and it is the moviemakers’ jobs to try to live up to everyone’s expectations about the novel turned film, including the novel’s author.

I think that this novel in particular is a difficult one to adapt into a film because it is in the genre of mystery. This requires great coordination with keeping secrets between characters on screen and playing with dramatic irony, etc. This being said, I think that one of the most important scenes in the book is when the characters find out that Laura is not the victim, but that she is very much alive. This is a crucial moment for obvious reasons, as it sets up the rest of the story by completely changing its direction. Without this scene, there would have to be a different way for the characters to find out that the real victim of the murder was Diane, and it seems strange for the plot to continue without the characters’ knowledge of Laura being alive. Also, in part three of the book, where the story continues through Laura’s perspective, we get a lot of information that serves a clues for the murder case. This would not be possible without having this scene preceding it. We also learn a lot about her relationships with other people, especially Waldo, so there is really no way to avoid this scene.

As for how this scene should be depicted, I believe that it requires a delicate touch with the back and forth reactions from both Laura and Detective McPherson, so that it can have the correct effect on the viewer. This scene was really fun for me to read because of the shock that Detective McPherson went through. If I were giving suggestions to the producers, directors, and editors of this scene, I would propose that lighting is one of the key cinematographic features. I imagine the scene to be dimly lit so as to create an atmosphere of mystery and a sort of eerie sensation at first. Maybe half lit faces would be a good idea. I also think that a combination of full body shots of Laura with extreme close ups of Detective McPherson are very important, and maybe some back and forth shots of the two characters as well.

For the acting part of the scene, the facial expressions on both characters have to be very intentional, as well. Because both characters are extremely surprised by what is happening in that moment, they both have surprised looks on their faces. However, the type of surprise is different for both of them. I think that, since the rest of the story is very serious and dramatic, this scene could be made to be a little humorous with the revelation of the big surprise. This will help lighten the mood for a second and could serve in the success of the film.

 

Below is a link that describes different types of shots in film and what effects they create for the viewer.

 

https://www.careersinfilm.com/types-of-shots-in-film/

 

Sources:

Contis, Eva. “Types of Shots in a Film: The First Tools to Building a Shot List.” Careers In Film: 

Film Schools & Colleges, 9 Oct. 2019, www.careersinfilm.com/types-of-shots-in-film/.

Myers, Scott. “Classic 40s Movie: ‘Laura.’” Medium, Go Into The Story, 28 Oct. 2016, 

gointothestory.blcklst.com/classic-40s-movie-laura-42e31a7aee44?gi=3acaabb3fd97.

“Laura by Vera Caspary.” Goodreads, Goodreads, 1 Oct. 2005, 

www.goodreads.com/book/show/601799.Laura.

Lost But Not Forgotten

For this assignment, I chose to research about the movie Sandy, which was adapted from Alice Hegan Rice’s novel from 1905. The silent film came out in 1918 and was directed by George Melford. Some of the actors that took part in this film included Jack Pickford, Louise Huff, James Neill, Edythe Chapman, Julia Faye, and George Beranger. Unfortunately, this is one of those movies that has been lost with time, so I did not have the opportunity to watch it. Instead, I decided to watch a different film that was also adapted from one of Alice Hegan Rice’s novels called Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. This film was also distributed by Paramount Pictures, and since they were adapted from the same author, I thought that there would be some similarities in the way in which the film was made, which made it a good choice for this assignment.

An interesting point about Mrs. Wiggs and the Cabbage Patch is that, after the story was published as a novel by Alice Hegan Rice, it was adapted into a Broadway play. The play was written by Anne Crawford Flexner and was first performed in 1904.

As for the movie, there were four different versions that were aired. I decided to watch the one that came out in 1919, which was the second adaptation. This film was directed by Hugh Ford and the two main characters, Lovely Mary and Mrs. Nancy Wiggs, were played by Marguerite Clark and Mary Carr. Some of the other actors were Vivia Ogden, Gladys Valerie, Gareth Hughes, Jack McLean, Maud Hosford, Lawrence Johnson, and May McAvoy.

In this film, the story begins in an orphanage for girls. One of the girls decides to leave and ends up becoming pregnant. After a while, she returns to the orphanage and leaves the baby behind, because she is not able to care for him herself. Another one of the girls that lives at the orphanage, Lovely Mary, begins getting really attached to this baby, and when she finds out that his mother wants to come back for him, she immediately runs away with the kid so that they would not be separated. She ends up on a cabbage patch, as the name of the film suggests, where a woman shelters her and takes care of her. They grow very close and in the end, both Mary and the rest of the family in the cabbage patch learn from each other and become very connected through the experiences that they shared together.

I found this movie to be very interesting and comical, with a positive message to be taken from it. I especially admired the role that the little boy played in the personal growth of each of the rest of the characters. Because of him, the movie teaches the audience about compassion, generosity and the power of love for those we care about around us. I would give this film a fairly high rating, especially considering the fact that it was made in 1919, when film technology was not very advanced. For example, most of the shots were still shots, meaning that the camera did not pan across certain areas, and the film was in black and white and without sound. I thought this movie was quick paced and humorous, which made it an easy movie to watch. I think that these two aspects helped balance out the fact that it is a silent movie, which can become tiresome or tedious at times, and made it a more engaging and amusing film.

Below is a link to the movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKiLci0Hm2Q

Sources

“Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1919 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 

2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Wiggs_of_the_Cabbage_Patch_(1919_film)#Cast.

“Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1934 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Nov. 

2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Wiggs_of_the_Cabbage_Patch_(1934_film).

“Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1919 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Oct. 

2019, 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Wiggs_of_the_Cabbage_Patch_(1919_film)#/media/File:Mr

s_Wiggs_of_the_Cabbage_Patch_1919_newspaperad.jpg.

“Sandy (1918 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 July 2019, 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_(1918_film).

Alice Hegan Rice and Sandy

Alice Hegan Rice was born on January 11, 1870. As a child, she was always very creative and loved coming up with new ideas. She greatly enjoyed writing short stories and skits. This was probably one of the main reasons why she grew up to become an American writer. Not only was she an author of novels, but also some of her work was later adapted into film, as well. Alice is most famously known for writing Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, which was published in 1901. This novel came out as a movie in 1903. Similarly, in 1905, Alice published her novel, Sandy, which is the film that I have decided to focus on for this assignment. One thing that is very interesting about this novel is that it had actually been published in parts throughout the previous year and a half. Alice worked together with The Century Magazine to circulate her novel in smaller pieces. The Century Magazine was a magazine that was run by The Century Company. It was founded in 1881 and was based out of New York. After the entire novel came out as a series, it was finally published as a whole. One of the things that is most impressive about Alice Hegan Rice is the fact that The Century Company agreed to publish her work the first time she asked. At this period of time, this was usually not the case at all. Women had a very hard time being recognized for their work and being listened to by publishers, producers, editors, and directors. Women were very frequently turned down by companies because, at the time, it was standard to think that no woman could do a well enough job as a man could. So when the very first company that Alice Hegan Rice went to to see if she could publish her work agreed immediately, it was a very big deal that they said yes. This goes to show the incredible talent that Alice portrayed in her writing. Because of this, people like Alice Hegan Rice are the types of people that helped open the way for other women in the field of moviemaking, and other male dominated industries, to be able to come forward and show the world what they are capable of.

After some time, Alice’s novel was set to be adapted into a film and in 1918, this story was aired for the first time as a silent movie. It was directed by George Melford who worked for Paramount Pictures. This company had recently been founded in 1912 and was based out of Hollywood, like many other film production companies. Later that year, Alice Hegan Rice was able to adapt another one of her novels. This one was called Sunshine Nan. A few years after that, in 1926, her last novel that was adapted into a film was shown to the public. This movie was called Lovely Mary. Overall, Alice ended up writing twenty novels of which six were turned into films. One of the books, arguably her most famous one, Mrs. Wiggs and the Cabbage, was actually adapted into film four different times.

Below is a link that includes a short biography and little summaries for some of Alice’s novels.

http://www.online-literature.com/alice-rice/

Sources

“Rice, Alice Hegan (1870–1942).”. “Rice, Alice Hegan (1870–1942).” Women in World History: 

A Biographical Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia.com, 2019, 

www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/rice-alice-

hegan-1870-1942.

Rice, Alice Hegan. “Biography of Alice Hegan Rice.” The Literature Network: Online Classic 

Literature, Poems, and Quotes. Essays & Summaries, www.online-literature.com/alice-rice/.

Wikipedia. “Sandy (1918 Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 July 2019, 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_(1918_film).

Wikipedia. “Sandy (Novel).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Dec. 2018, 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_(novel).

Wikipedia. “The Century Company.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Aug. 2019, 

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_Company.

“Alice Hegan Rice Photo at Speed Museum.” WKU Libraries Blog

library.blog.wku.edu/2009/11/alice-hegan-rice-photo-at-speed-museum/.

“Sandy by Alice Hegan Rice Author of Mrs. Wiggs Of The Cabbage Patch.” EBay

www.ebay.com/itm/Sandy-by-Alice-Hegan-Rice-author-of-Mrs-Wiggs-Of-The-Cabbage-

Patch-/400327425254.