Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1929

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
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1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929

The Year 1929
Year
Event and Significance
1929
The first Academy Awards 'winners' were announced on the back page of the organization's bulletin three months before being officially awarded. Twelve award statuettes were quickly presented by Academy President Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. - it was the first Academy Awards ceremony, taking place at a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, honoring films from 1927 and 1928. Paramount's Wings (1927) won Best Picture (based on production). It was the only silent film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. A second 'Best Picture' category for artistic merit (a category dropped the next year), was awarded to Sunrise (1927). Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor were the first Best Actor and Best Actress winners - for multiple films.
1929
Actress Mary Pickford was the first performer to conduct a marketing campaign for an Academy Award, in the second year of its offering, by inviting all of the judges to her home for tea at her 22-room Pickfair mansion -- her ploy worked and she actually won the Best Actress honor (awarded in 1930) for her overly-emotive performance in her first talkie, the melodramatic Coquette (1928/29). Pickford and Fairbanks also starred together in the box-office flop The Taming of the Shrew (1929) - a misguided effort to bolster their stardom.
1929
Hollywood released its first original (backstage) musical. It was MGM's first all-talking picture and musical -- The Broadway Melody (1929) (aka The Broadway Melody of 1929) - a Best Picture Academy Award winner (it was the first sound film to win the award), and the first musical with an original score. It was also the first musical to spawn a series of Broadway Melody sequels that stretched out to 1940 (the final film starred Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell). It was also one of the first musicals to feature a Technicolor (two-color) sequence ("The Wedding of the Painted Doll"), beginning a trend for other musicals to include color sequences. The musical film genre was born with the coming of sound films.
1929
The Best Picture-nominated western film In Old Arizona (1929), made by directors Raoul Walsh and Irving Cummings, was released. It was the first full-length talkie film to be shot outdoors (on location) and not in a studio, as well as the first sound western film.
1929
Director Erich von Stroheim's last silent film Queen Kelly (1929), starring Gloria Swanson, (partial footage seen in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950), also starring Swanson and von Stroheim), was not finished due to its expensive and elaborate production, and disagreements between Swanson and the director. Producers also balked at the idea of completing it - when the demand was increasing for sound films.
1929
A 1925 musical was made into a Paramount feature film of the same name, Cocoanuts (1929), featuring the Marx Brothers -- their first film. It was shot at Paramount's Astoria Studios on Long Island.
1929
The first full-length, modern sound ("First 100% Natural Color, Talking, Singing, Dancing Picture") motion picture produced entirely in color (two-strip Technicolor), director Alan Crosland's musical On With the Show (1929), premiered in New York City on May 28, 1929. [Note: Previously, The Cavalier (1928), technically the first feature-length sound film completely in Technicolor, had only music and sound effects with silent title cards.] The second Technicolor 'talkie' film was Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), also from Warner Bros.
1929
The first important, feature-length sound documentary was the German film, Melodie der Welt (1929, Germ.) (aka Melody of the World).
1929
The Eastman Kodak Company introduced its first motion picture film, 16mm, designed especially for making the then new sound motion pictures.
1929
MGM's and director King Vidor's all-black musical Hallelujah! (1929), shot on location, introduced post-synchronization to film-making. It was also the first sound-era film with an all-black cast to be produced by a major studio. The action was originally shot without sound, which was later added in the studio as a separately recorded sound track containing both naturalistic and impressionistic effects.
1929
The enthusiastic public demanded to see more movies with sound. Theaters rushed to install sound equipment. Movie attendance increased to 110 million, almost double the movie attendance in 1927. The independent studios couldn't compete as successfully with the four major studios (Fox, MGM, Paramount, and Warners) in the production of sound films.
1929
Walt Disney Productions was formed.
1929
Mickey Mouse's first words were spoken in his ninth cartoon short The Karnival Kid (1929) when he said the words: "Hot dogs!" [Walt's voice was used for Mickey.]
1929
Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail (1929) was his first sound film (and the UK's first full-length talking picture) -- and featured one of his earliest cameo appearances - a custom that would become a regular feature of his films (and the films of many others).
1929
Soviet director Dziga Vertov's The Man with a Movie Camera (1929, USSR) - a quintessential experimental, avante-garde film and an excellent example of a "city symphony" documentary, was regarded as "pure" visual cinema. Its views of Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and of Soviet workers and machines contained radical hyper-editing techniques, special visual effects, wild juxtapositions of images, and double exposures.
1929
Rouben Mamoulian's musical drama Applause (1929), one of the earliest Hollywood musicals during the first full year of sound pictures, was a liberating, innovative breakthrough film at a time of 'static' and stultified film-making with bulky immobile cameras on sound stages. He introduced revolutionary camera techniques (including rhythmically moving and inventive shots, and the use of two cameras at the same time) and experiments with sound (use of overlapping or interlacing soundtracks, sound cues, auditory montages, and background noise).
1929
Silent screen star John Gilbert's first sound film was His Glorious Night (1929). It was a disastrous talkie debut for Gilbert - audiences laughed at his inappropriately-sounding, high-pitched voice in his role as a romantic hero. This common occurrence of stars having difficulty transitioning to the talkies was immortalized in Singin' in the Rain (1952).
1929
Dorothy Arzner directed The Wild Party (1929) - it was 24 year-old star Clara Bow's ("Hollywood's Whoopie Girl") first talkie -- a tale about "Jazz Age" youth in a collegiate picture that was exceedingly popular at the time. In the film, she played the part of a wild and sexy student who became involved with one of her young professors (Fredric March) at Winston College for Women. Clara Bow's sound career as an actress was soon doomed.
By the end of the decade
The film careers of many silent film stars ended due to their voices being unsuitable for the new medium, or due to the fact that their voices didn't match their public image. Others, however, such as Greta Garbo, and the comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy successfully adapted to sound.


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