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‘Masking madness with gaiety’: innovating sound exhibition in Australia and the royal commission’s failure to prevent the talkie wars

Journal Article


Abstract


  • The 1927–1928 Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia

    sought to strengthen the domestic film industry’s competitiveness against foreign

    investment, technology and manpower. Although it concluded before the widescale

    rollout of sound exhibition, it began collecting evidence after the coming of

    sound had already begun to make waves. Beginning in 1924 and continuing

    beyond the Commission, agents of the US De Forest Phonofilms company,

    primed the local market for sound through a series of publicity events. Their

    activities lead the local trade press to dub the Australian Phonofilms franchise as

    the instigator of a ‘Talkie War’, challenging the Commission’s ability to curtail

    the expansion of human capital and technology from the USA. Within a year of

    its conclusion, agents from the US Western Electric company arrived in

    Australia to wire the major capital city theatres with sound. Initially, this

    strengthened Hollywood’s foothold in ways that the Commission was anxious to

    avoid. Hoyts Theatres intensified the ‘Talkie-gear war’ by backing the

    ‘Australian-made’ Markophone as a competitor to the US Fox–Movietone sound

    system. Hence, while the Commission failed to achieve its aims, local pioneers

    took action by innovating rival sound systems with local technology, engineering

    and showmanship. Markophone wired up the ‘Talkie War’ in face of local and

    international competition in ways that differed from nearly all alternative sound

    systems.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • Yecies, B. (2015). ‘Masking madness with gaiety’: innovating sound exhibition in Australia and the royal commission’s failure to prevent the talkie wars. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 9 (3), 253-270.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84954123642

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2200

Number Of Pages


  • 17

Start Page


  • 253

End Page


  • 270

Volume


  • 9

Issue


  • 3

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom

Abstract


  • The 1927–1928 Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry in Australia

    sought to strengthen the domestic film industry’s competitiveness against foreign

    investment, technology and manpower. Although it concluded before the widescale

    rollout of sound exhibition, it began collecting evidence after the coming of

    sound had already begun to make waves. Beginning in 1924 and continuing

    beyond the Commission, agents of the US De Forest Phonofilms company,

    primed the local market for sound through a series of publicity events. Their

    activities lead the local trade press to dub the Australian Phonofilms franchise as

    the instigator of a ‘Talkie War’, challenging the Commission’s ability to curtail

    the expansion of human capital and technology from the USA. Within a year of

    its conclusion, agents from the US Western Electric company arrived in

    Australia to wire the major capital city theatres with sound. Initially, this

    strengthened Hollywood’s foothold in ways that the Commission was anxious to

    avoid. Hoyts Theatres intensified the ‘Talkie-gear war’ by backing the

    ‘Australian-made’ Markophone as a competitor to the US Fox–Movietone sound

    system. Hence, while the Commission failed to achieve its aims, local pioneers

    took action by innovating rival sound systems with local technology, engineering

    and showmanship. Markophone wired up the ‘Talkie War’ in face of local and

    international competition in ways that differed from nearly all alternative sound

    systems.

Publication Date


  • 2015

Citation


  • Yecies, B. (2015). ‘Masking madness with gaiety’: innovating sound exhibition in Australia and the royal commission’s failure to prevent the talkie wars. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 9 (3), 253-270.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-84954123642

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/lhapapers/2200

Number Of Pages


  • 17

Start Page


  • 253

End Page


  • 270

Volume


  • 9

Issue


  • 3

Place Of Publication


  • United Kingdom