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 colour sound movie

1. The technology

2. The human subject


First surviving 2-colour sound movie (and feature film) including the human voice (male and female)

The Broadway Melody, 1929

This MGM production, produced by Harry Rapf, was directed by Harry Beaumont (1888–1966), with cinematography by John Arnold and sound recording engineering by Douglas Shearer, the sound version being edited by Sam S. Zimbalist. It premiered in Los Angeles, California, USA, on 1 February 1929, with general release on 6 June 1929. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1930.

One sequence, the 'Wedding of the Painted Doll', sung by James Burroughs (uncredited) in reel 8, was filmed in the two-strip Technicolor process. The film is in full sound, recorded with the Western Electric Movietone sound-on-film sound system but released with sound-on-disc.

The film survives, but the Technicolor sequence is incomplete. The surviving 24-foot Technicolor fragment was preserved by George Eastman House in 2012 at Haghefilm Conservation B.V. in Amsterdam.

The first all-talking, all-colour movie was Alan Crosland's (1894–1936) On with the Show!, premiered on 28 May 1929. Only about a minute of the Technicolor footage survives. [Layton & Pierce; IMDB]

 


 

First 3-colour sound feature film including the human voice (male and female)

Becky Sharp, 1935

The first feature filmed in 3-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp was released on 28 June 1935. The producers were Kenneth Macgowan and Rouben Mamoulian; the director was Rouben Mamoulian (1897–1987). [Basten] The 84-minute film was restored in 1992 by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

 


First colour stereo sound movie (and feature film) including men and women speaking

The first colour sound feature film including men and women speaking, experienced in stereo by contemporaries, was 1952's This is Cinerama, which premiered on 30 September 1952, at the New York Broadway theatre. Apart from the narrator, though, virtually all voices are only heard en masse.

The first colour stereo sound feature film including men and women speaking, not experienced in stereo when originally shown, but now available with remastered stereo, was 1939's The Wizard of Oz (director Victor Fleming, 1889–1949). The stereo version has been available since 1999. The 2009 Blu-ray version features a lossless 5.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track.

 


 

Earliest-born person whose voice was recorded in a colour sound film

Little information yet located. Thomas Jefferson (1856–1932) was the oldest person to appear in On with the Show, and older than anyone in La Chauve souris, Becky Sharp or The Broadway Melody.

 


 

Earliest-born woman whose voice was recorded in a colour sound film

Little information yet located. Mrs Leslie Carter (1862–1937) was the oldest woman to appear in Becky Sharp, and older than any in La Chauve souris, The Broadway Melody or On with the Show.

 


Earliest-born person whose voice was recorded in a colour stereo sound film

Probably Charley Grapewin (1869–1956), who played Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz.

 


 

Earliest-born woman whose voice was recorded in a colour stereo sound film

Possibly Sybil Thorndike (1882–1976), who played Queen Victoria in the 1953 Melba.

 

Full references for printed works

Fred E. Basten (2005) Glorious Technicolor. The Movies' Magic Rainbow

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

James Layton and David Pierce (2015) The Dawn of Technicolor 1915–1935. Rochester, NY: George Eastman House

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

© 2010–2016 Benjamin S. Beck

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This page was last revised on 2016-01-30.