Review of Movies, Songs, and Electric Sound: Transatlantic Trends (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2019).
The historiography of the transition from silent cinema to sound cinema has evolved considerably in the last decade, none more so than for scholars of cinematic sound. A wealth of recent scholarship (Spring 2013; Slowik 2014; Jacobs 2014; Platte 2018; Lewis 2018) has illuminated the coming of sound from a range of different national, cultural and industrial vantage points, bringing the many continuities between silent cinema and sound cinema into focus. As a result, what was once treated as a stark line in the sand—a technological revolution followed by a few years of chaos, as exhibitors fired scores of orchestra players and filmmakers scrambled to learn how to use new sonic resources ‘properly’— is now understood as a complex global process, advancing swiftly in some places and incrementally in others. More than ever before, the decade between 1925 and 1935 appears as a period ripe with aesthetic possibility.