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The Big, Wide Story Of Stereophonic Sound

The Big, Wide Story Of Stereophonic Sound

         For a subject
that’s integral to the success of motion pictures, precious little has been
written about sound. I’m not referring to the dawn of the talkie era but later
developments that came in conjunction with widescreen, Cinerama, and 3-D in the
early 1950s, in a feverish attempt to lure people away from their new
television sets and back into movie theaters. (And let’s not forget the
pioneering efforts of Walt Disney with his introduction of Fantasound in 1940
for the roadshow engagements of Fantasia.)

         Longtime UCLA
Film and Television Archive preservationist Bob Gitt has made a great study of
sound and performed compelling demonstrations over the years…but now Robert
Furmanek, of the 3-D Archive, has compiled a fascinating article about the
history, introduction and promotion of Stereophonic sound in the 1950s.

         Using articles
and ads from trade magazines of the period, Bob helps bring this era to life
with all its technological advances and attendant ballyhoo. Even if you don’t
understand the scientific aspects of the story I think you’ll enjoy the “big
picture” he paints, along with the wonderfully evocative advertisements.

         The
drum-beating was so loud during this period that Cole Porter even wrote a
satirical song about the audio craze for his 1955 Broadway musical Silk Stockings, introduced by Don Ameche
and Hildegarde Neff—and later reprised in the 1957 movie by Fred Astaire and
Janis Paige. Porter added additional lyrics (and sanitized others) for the MGM
movie but this original stanza will give you a sampling:

         If Zanuck’s latest picture were the good
old-fashioned kind

          There’d be no one in front to look at
Marilyn’s behind     

          If you want to hear applauding hands
resound

          You’ve got to have glorious technicolor,

          Breath-taking Cinemascope and        

          Stereophonic sound.

         To read Bob
Furmanek’s informative column, click HERE.

 

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