The Warner Brothers Make Noise

(The Jazz Singer)
By Stephen Schochet 

2004 by Hollywood Stories. 
All rights reserved

Hollywood was an attractive place for the early filmmakers to settle, full of good weather, orange and lemon trees. It was especially attractive for producers who owed money on borrowed camera equipment; if a creditor came after them, they could hide among the trees. 

Making films was a hard business, full of casualties and it took a pirate's mentality just to survive. Most of the studio heads were from poor backgrounds, with limited English skills and they never forgot their childhood, or a personal slight either. 

That included Jack, Harry, Albert and Sam, the four Warner Brothers from Youngstown, Ohio. They had gotten started in show business by showing movies off the side of a tent in Youngstown.  Times were so tough the brothers had to borrow all their chairs from the local undertaker. Consequently, every time there was a funeral in Youngstown, they had to give all the chairs back and the film patrons were forced to stand. 

As a boy Jack Warner wished to become a singer and a comedian. Unfortunately his brothers recognized his lack of talent and instructed him to sing in the tent, but only when they wanted the audience to leave. 

Jack was later advised that the money was not in the performing anyway; it was in paying the performers. Among the early stars that would be under contract to him would be 

  • Betty Davis
  • James Cagney
  • Humphrey Bogart 
  • and Errol Flynn. 
  • Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd that -- according to his publicity anyway -- was born in a foxhole in World War I.  He was the company's biggest star. Heroic as he might have been on the screen, he proved to be, like many stars, cantankerous in person. 

The last straw came when Jack Warner took the dog on a publicity tour. As he introduced him to the crowd, his ungrateful employee bit him on the behind.  That led to the dog's dismissal. It proved to be only a prelude to Warner's many future battles with stars. 

Good Insurance;  GREAT PRICES!
Click This Button And See
If We Can't Save you Over $100

  Silent Film Stars like Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford rarely ever had a flop as their films were shown around the world because the silent films knew no language barriers. 

The silent days were a struggle for Warner Bros. 

Trying to make a name for themselves, the four brothers got great publicity by announcing that the renowned opera tenor Caruso would be arriving from Italy to make a film for them. They paid him 25,000 dollars -- and then put him in a silent movie. 

They didn't have to do that because even then the movie studios already had the technology to make talking films. One of the reasons why the studios resisted the idea was that they didn't want to risk losing their overseas market. 

Then in 1926 the silent films faced their biggest competition from a new device called the radio which brought entertainment right into the home. As movie attendance dwindled the studio heads shut their eyes and pretended the competition of radio was not there. 

But the Warners -- lead by the ambitious brother Sam -- decided to push the envelope and try to save their sinking studio by experimenting with movie sound.  He purchased an experimental sound system called Vita-phone. 

They then acquired the rights to "The Jazz Singer".  This was a popular play about a young man who had a beautiful voice and is offered a Broadway career.  In the play the son gave in to his Old World Jewish father.  But the Warner brothers, wishing to reach a wider audience, Americanized the story by having the son follow his own dreams. The star Al Jolson adlibbed the dialogue, "Wait a minute, wait a minute you ain't heard nothing, yet!"  The Warners were only intending singing but at the last minute they impulsively kept the line in the film. 

The Jazz Singer received a standing ovation when it premiered in New York in 1927 and went on to make three and half million dollars at a time when movie admission cost 20 cents. The sound revolution was under way! 

" How boring!" said Mary Pickford. "At first we moved! Now everyone is standing around talking!"  But the change swept on irresistibly.  Nervous Silent Film Stars soon began consulting astrologists and tarot card readers to foretell their futures. 

Many changes had to be made in the industry with the advent of sound.  Before the revolution movie audiences had often been loud and noisy while watching silent films. Now the theaters got quiet as people strained to hear every word. 

Movie theaters had to be rewired for sound, costing major studios, like Paramount and Fox, millions of dollars. On top of that, movies now had to be filmed mostly at night because any passing truck noise could ruin a sound recording. 

In fact, microphones were so sensitive that even the sound of a few crickets could stop production of a whole set.  

This was discovered when one enterprising actor was hired for just one day's work.  When the director wasn't looking the new employee let a bunch of crickets loose on the set. It was five days before the crew could round up the chirping crickets, and the actor had to be kept on hold all that time.  Consequently, he received five times the paycheck the studio had expected to provide him. 


Want to hear more stories? Stephen Schochet is the author and narrator of the audiobooks "Fascinating Walt Disney" and "Tales Of Hollywood". The Saint Louis Post Dispatch says," these two elaborate productions are exceptionally entertaining." Hear RealAudio samples at  

No advice on this site should be used
without first contacting a professional in that field.  

Write Better Learn the Basics YOUR World
 Tips for writing better  
Books for writers
Cafe Hemingway 
 Learn how to Hyphen-ate  
 Easy Research for writers  
Big Screen writing  
  Proposals for Nonfiction  
Free Plots to use
Ring in Writing Assignments
Read My News
Post Your News
Writer's Showcase
Using transition words  
Abe Linkin Page
Writing for Kids
Protect Your Work
Building web pages
Are you feeling hopeless?  
How to Avoid the High Cost of Conventional Promotions and Still Sell More Books.  
Don't be Buried Alive!  
Better Query Results can be YOURS!
FREE Calculator  
Miniature Horses,, how would you rewrite this article?
Settings that take your breath away?  

Get Your Own FREE Business Cards  
Free E-cards  
How and Why you need a copyeditor
Specialty Niches on the web could be YOUR step up. 
What the heck is a meme? 
Writing In Your Sleep 
The Tale Wins Affiliate Contract 
Potential Earnings Disclaimer 

Ebooks are for Amateurs  
An Introduction to VoIP 
How To Write An Article For The Web 
Own Your Own Article Directory 
The Secret of Success, written especially for writers by Lucy Goosey.
Make Money from information you don't even write yourself.
Break Into Technical Writing.  *  Write a better Query *  Make your query a KNOCKOUT  *  humor for writers * Free pictures you can use *  Literary Agent Protocol * Privacy Policy * Get published * Insurance Information for Writers *  Click here to borrow all the money you need.  *  Be Your Own Banker  * Promote Your Own Site *  Understanding Copyright * Free humor *

  Dealers Wanted *   Help *   postcards for writersFree Software for writers  *  Practice Makes Perfect  * Learn to use the new Talk and Type software.   *  Piggyback the Hollidays for Free book publicity.   *  Create a bottomless notebook to spark new story ideas any time you need them.
Using Description to Drag your readers into your story.
Break into a Food Writing Career.  
The Secret of Success, according to Lucy Goosey.  
Watch out for the Land Gurus 
Just The Writer... when the movie makers take over the book, where does the writer go?
800 words and phrases that SELL!

How To Write Powerful Speeches

Print Your Own Money  
Books almost free.
Resources for writers to quote and interview.
With All Due Respect  
Indexing and the importance of key words.  
How To Write Product Instructions 
Sell More Books by making your publisher move into high gear.

STOP THE SPAM.  Opt OUT of the email loop.  Quit being Buried Alive
Add music to your site?  Click HERE to see just how easy it can be, and for more information on a company you want to avoid.
Newsletters that flop, and what to do to avoid a similar fate.

Hit it another lick *  Stop SPAM! * There is only ONE WAY Sex will Sell on the web.  * nonfiction titles * fiction titles *  Free Report, Five Reasons To Check Your Credit Report.  *  MY bookmarks.  * Simple Calculator for writers. Improve your web site's search engine ranking  *  Add your site URL to my site * 

The X-Files
Acne Before Breakfast
Allergies and their toll
Birding Basics
Cancer Campaigns
Crafts you can do
The Tooth Fairy 
Diabetes Articles
Diet Aids
Gardening Tools
Help at Work
Home Improvement
Pain Control
Personal Improvement
Protect Yourself 

Make Money From Home  
Essays about the Family  
News you SHOULD use

Masters of Disguise  

14 Winning Methods
to Sell Any Product or Service in a Down Economy
Publish your book  in PDF files. 
Post your best quotes here.
Snowball your way to Success  

Keep up with all your new articles and freebies.

Have some of your favorite ebooks quit working?
Click HERE and let me GIVE you a secret that will: Fix Your Ebooks. 

Travel the World, and get paid for it. 

If you have a question or comment for the owner, Then:

Copyright 2006 by
Earl H. Roberts