First sound movie First stereo sound movie First colour sound movie First colour stereo sound movie
First 3D sound movie First 3D stereo sound movie First 3D colour sound movie First 3D colour stereo sound movie

First 3D sound movie

1. The technology

2. The human subject


First 3D sound movie

Audioscopiks (1935)

This eight-minute anaglyphic 3D film, directed by Jacob Leventhal and John Norling, was first screened on 26 December 1935. It was a short documentary showcase for 3D itself. Though a sound movie, much of the audio is voice-over. However, one segment featured the Spanish flamenco singer Eva Soba performing a traditional song.

It's possible that this is predated by an outtake of a ski scene on a hill slope, from the 1935 film L'Ami de monsieur, apparently included in Stefan Dröẞler's touring lecture show on 'The History of 3D'. The Stéréoscopic Lumière film was directed by Pierre de Cuvier. [The 3D Revolution]

 

The earliest 360° cylindrical panoramic movie filmed in sound was the 1955 version of America the Beautiful, shown at what was then the Circarama theater at Disneyland. Its Circle-Vision 360° technique is directly comparable to the much earlier Cinéorama.

 


 

First 3D sound feature film

Nozze Vagabonde (Beggar's Wedding), 1936

Shot in black and white in Italy in 1936 (and released there on 30 June that year), with the Gualtierroti stereo camera, for the Societa Italiana Stereocinematografica, and projected in polarised format. Producer: Sante Bonalde; director: Guido Brignone (1886–1959); photography: Anchise Brizzi. [Zone; Hayes; IMDB]

 


First 3D stereo sound movie

Land of the Sun (Solnechnyy Kray) and Karandash Na Ldu, 1949

In the summer of 1949 the 'stereokino' (3D cinema) in Moscow had three films on its program, of which these were two (the third being an animation). Land of the Sun was a two-toned travelogue on the Crimea, Karandash Na Ldu a comedy short. Both were autostereoscopic, and both used stereophonic sound, spatially relating to the scene's visuals. (Funk)

For London's Festival of Britain, in 1951, a futuristic cinema was constructed—the Telecinema—at which four stereoscopic films were presented in stereophonic sound. Two of these were animations, so not considered here. Of the others, one was the 9½ minute International Realist documentary Distant Thames, filmed in colour and released by the British Film Institute on 30 April 1951. It was later retitled Royal River, and included in the 1953 compilation 3-Dimension. Director: Brian Smith; cameraman: Stanley W. Sayer; Stereo Techniques technology: Raymond and Nigel L. Spottiswood; stereo sound: Ken Cameron. [Zone; Hayes; 3-D Revolution]

The other was in black and white. This was the 10 minute Pathé documentary A Solid Explanation, released by the British Film Institute in May 1951, and later included in the 1953 compilation 3-Dimension. It was a humorous illustration of the principles of stereoscopy, intercut with animal scenes shot at London Zoo. The release date is so close to that of Distant Thames that there's certainly a possibility that it was filmed earlier. Producer: Peter Bayliss; director: Peter Bradford; cameraman: Reginald W. Cavender; Stereo Techniques technology: Raymond and Nigel L. Spottiswood; stereo sound: Ken Cameron. [Zone; Hayes]

 


 

First 3D stereo sound feature film

House of Wax, 1953

The American horror film House of Wax was released on 25 April 1953. It was directed by André de Toth (1912–2002), and starred Vincent Price.

House of Wax, originally titled Waxworks, was Warner Brothers' answer to the 3D hit Bwana Devil, which had been released the previous November. Seeing something big in 3D's future, Warners' contracted the same company, Natural Vision, run by the Gunzberg Brothers, Julian and Milton, to shoot the new feature. The film is ultimately a remake of the studio's 1933 film, The Mystery of the Wax Museum, which in itself was written and based on Charles Belden's three-act play, The Wax Works.

"The film's most terrifying moment occurred when smoke from a fire seemed to pour from the screen out into the audience and the most sensuous was a barker batting a paddle ball out into the audience until it seemed to touch the end of the nose." [Limbacher: 161]

Filmed in (polarised) Natural Vision 3-Dimension (dual 35mm), it was presented in Widescreen (cropped 1.50:1). Hayes, pp214-8, says:

 

There have always been two thoughts on House of Wax: one, it is a classic film of the horror genre, and two, it is claptrap exploitation of the worst kind. There seems to be no middle ground. Everyone either loves or hates this film. Even if one followed the middle ground, House of Wax has to be considered better than just good. It was expertly mounted, staged and photographed. The 3-D was wonderful, the surround sound engrossing, the story thrilling. It was old but but it wore extremely well, and today it is still an exciting film. Stepping beyond the middle ground, it certainly is a classic not only in the horror vein but also of stereoscopic cinematography. It is a must-see in 3-D.

It is now available in 3D Blu-Ray.

 

 

Full references for printed works

R.M. Hayes (1989) 3-D Movies. A History and Filmography of Stereoscopic Cinema

James M. Limbacher (1968) Four Aspects of the Film

Ray Zone (2007) Stereoscopic Cinema & the Origins of 3-D Film, 1838–1952. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky

 

© 2009–2017 Benjamin S. Beck

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This page was last revised on 2016-09-14.