In 1919, Lee De Forest, inventor of the audion tube, filed his first patent on a sound-on-film process, DeForest Phonofilm, which recorded sound directly onto film as parallel lines. These parallel lines photographically recorded electrical waveforms from a microphone, which were translated back into sound waves when the movie was projected. Some sources say that DeForest improved on the work of Finnish inventor Eric Tigerstedt — who was granted German patent 309.536 on 28 July 1914 for his sound-on-film work — and on the Tri-Ergon process, patented in 1919 by German inventors Josef Engl, Hans Vogt, and Joseph Massole.

The Phonofilm system, which recorded synchronized sound directly onto film, was used to record vaudeville acts, musical numbers, political speeches, and opera singers. The quality of Phonofilm was poor at first, improved somewhat in later years, but was never able to match the fidelity of sound-on-disc systems such as Vitaphone, or later sound-on-film systems such as RCA Photophone or Fox Movietone.

The films of DeForest were short films made primarily as demonstrations to try to interest major studios in Phonofilm. These films are particularly valuable to entertainment historians, as they include recordings of a wide variety of both well-known and less famous American vaudeville and British music hall acts which would otherwise have been forgotten. Some of the films, such as Flying Jenny Airplane, Barking Dog, and a film of DeForest himself explaining the Phonofilm system (all 1921) were experimental films to test the system.

Some of the people filmed included vaudevillians Joe Weber and Lew Fields, Eva Puck and Sammy White, Eddie Cantor, Ben Bernie, Oscar Levant, Phil Baker, Roy Smeck, jazz musicians Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, "all-girl" bandleader Helen Lewis, harmonicist Borrah Minnevitch, Nikita Balieff's company La Chauve-Souris, opera singers Eva Leoni, Abbie Mitchell, and Marie Rappold, Broadway stars Helen Menken and Fannie Ward, folklorist Charles Ross Taggart, copla singer Concha Piquer, and politicians Calvin Coolidge, Robert La Follette, Al Smith, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Smith and Roosevelt were filmed during the 1924 Democratic National Convention, held June 24 to July 9 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Coolidge became the first U. S. President to appear in a sound motion picture when DeForest filmed him at the White House on 11 August 1924.

In November 1922, De Forest founded the De Forest Phonofilm Corporation with studios at 314 East 48th Street in New York City, but was unable to interest any of the major Hollywood movie studios in his invention.

All-text advertisement from the Strand Theater, giving dates, times, and performers' names. At the top, a tagline reads, "$10,000 reward paid to any person who finds a phonograph or similar device used in the phonofilms." The accompanying promotional text describes the slate of sound pictures as "the sensation of the century...Amazing! Astounding! Unbelievable".
Newspaper ad for Phonofilm shorts shown at the Strand Theatre in New York City, December 9–10, 1925


Premiere of Phonofilm

On 15 April 1923, DeForest premiered 18 short films made in Phonofilm—presenting vaudeville acts, musical performers, opera, and ballet -- at the Rivoli Theater in New York City. The printed program for this presentation gave credit to the "DeForest-Case Patents". However, according to a letter written to DeForest immediately after the event by Theodore Case, no credit was given to Case during DeForest's presentation. Case also states in the letter how displeased he is with DeForest crediting the "DeForest-Case Patents", as Phonofilm's success was fully due to the work of Case and his Case Research Lab.

DeForest was forced to show these films in independent theaters such as the Rivoli, since Hollywood movie studios controlled all major U.S. movie theater chains at the time. De Forest's decision to film primarily short films (one reel), not feature films, due to lack of Hollywood investment, limited the appeal of his process. All or part of the Paramount Pictures features Bella Donna (premiered 1 April 1923) and The Covered Wagon (premiered 16 March 1923) were reportedly filmed with Phonofilm as an experiment, but, if so, were only shown this way at the premiere engagements, also at the Rivoli Theater in New York City. "Siegfried", the first part of the Fritz Lang film Die Nibelungen (1924) had a Phonofilm soundtrack, but only at the New York City premiere at the Century Theatre on 23 August 1925.

One of the few two-reel films made by DeForest in the Phonofilm process was Love's Old Sweet Song (1923), starring Louis Wolheim, Donald Gallaher, and the 20-year-old Una Merkel. DeForest kept to one-reel films because he was unable to solve the problem of reel changes—and the disruption in sound which would occur—when a projectionist in a movie theater changed reels.

Development of Phonofilm

Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer used the Phonofilm process for their Song Car-Tunes series of cartoons—all featuring the "Follow the Bouncing Ball" gimmick—starting in May 1924. Of the 36 titles in the Song Car-Tunes series, 19 used Phonofilm. Also in 1924, the Fleischer brothers partnered with DeForest, Edwin Miles Fadiman, and Hugo Riesenfeld to form Red Seal Pictures Corporation, which owned 36 theaters on the East Coast, extending as far west as Cleveland, Ohio.

Red Seal Pictures and DeForest Phonofilm filed for bankruptcy in September 1926, and the Fleischers stopped releasing the Song Car-Tune films in Phonofilm shortly thereafter. Fleischer Studios later re-released some of these titles from 1929 to 1932 through Paramount Pictures, as part of a new series called Screen Songs with new soundtracks using the RCA Photophone sound-on-film process.

DeForest also worked with Theodore Case, using Case's patents to make the Phonofilm system workable. However, the two men had a falling out, shortly after DeForest filed suit in June 1923 against Freeman Harrison Owens, another former collaborator of DeForest's. Case later went to movie mogul William Fox of Fox Film Corporation, who bought Case's patents, the American rights to the German Tri-Ergon patents, and the work of Owens to create Fox Movietone.

DeForest's Use of Case Patents

Case's falling out with DeForest was due to DeForest taking full credit for the work of Case and Earl I. Sponable (1895–1977) at the Case Research Lab in Auburn, New York. To record film, DeForest tried using a standard light bulb to expose amplified sound onto film. These bulbs quickly burned out, and, even while functioning, never produced a clear recording. To reproduce his nearly inaudible soundtracks, DeForest used a vacuum tube that could not react quickly enough to the varying light coming to it as the soundtrack passed through the sound gate, causing an incomplete reproduction of sound from an essentially inaudible recording—a dual failure. DeForest's attempts to record and reproduce sound failed at every turn until he used inventions provided by Case.

Having failed to create a workable system of recording sound onto film by 1921, DeForest contacted Case to inquire about using the Case Research Lab's invention of the Thallofide (thallium oxysulfide) Cell, for use in reproducing his recorded sound. Case provided DeForest with that invention from his lab, and later provided DeForest with the AEO Light, another Case Research Lab invention, used for reading the soundtrack of a finished film. Due to DeForest's continuing misuse of these inventions, the Case Research Lab proceeded to build its own camera. That camera was used by Case and Sponable to record President Coolidge on 11 August 1924, which was one of the films shown by DeForest and claimed by him to be the product of "his" inventions.

Seeing that DeForest was more concerned with his own fame and recognition than he was with actually creating a workable system of sound film, and because of DeForest's continuing attempts to downplay the contributions of the Case Research Lab in the creation of Phonofilm, Case severed his ties with DeForest in the fall of 1925. On 23 July 1926, William Fox of Fox Film Corporation bought Case's patents.

Producer Pat Powers Attempts Takeover of Phonofilm

By 1926, DeForest gave up on trying to exploit the process—at least in the U.S. (see UK section below) -- and his company declared bankruptcy in September 1926. Without access to Case's inventions, DeForest was left with an incomplete system of sound film. Even so, producer Pat Powers invested in what remained of Phonofilm in the spring of 1927. DeForest was in financial difficulty due to his lawsuits against former associates Case and Owens. At this time, DeForest was selling cut-rate sound equipment to second-run movie theaters wanting to convert to sound on the cheap.

In June 1927, Powers made an unsuccessful takeover bid for DeForest's company. In the aftermath, Powers hired a former DeForest technician, William Garrity, to produce a cloned version of the Phonofilm system, which Powers dubbed Powers Cinephone. By now, DeForest was in too weak a financial position to mount a legal challenge against Powers for patent infringement. Powers convinced Walt Disney to use Cinephone for a few sound cartoons such as Steamboat Willie (1928) before Powers and Disney had a falling-out over money—and over Powers hiring away Disney animator Ub Iwerks -- in 1930. Cinephone continued to be used in low-budget Westerns through 1930, and in Disney's Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons—including Flowers and Trees and The Whoopee Party -- through 1932. (See list of Cinephone titles at IMDB in External Links below.)

Hollywood Chooses Other Sound Systems

While shunning Phonofilm, Hollywood studios introduced different systems for talkies. First up was the sound-on-disc process introduced by Warner Brothers as Vitaphone -- which used a record disc synchronized with the film for sound. Warner Brothers released the feature film Don Juan starring John Barrymore on 6 August 1926 in Vitaphone, with music and sound effects only.

On 6 October 1927, Warner Brothers released The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson in Vitaphone and is often incorrectly credited as the first talking picture. The Jazz Singer was the first feature film to use synchronized sound for talking sequences rather than just for music and sound effects, and thus launched the talkie era, but DeForest's sound-on-film system was in fact the basis for modern sound movies.

In 1927, producer William Fox introduced sound-on-film Fox Movietone with the film Sunrise by F. W. Murnau, and in 1928, the sound-on-film process RCA Photophone was adopted by newly created studio RKO Radio Pictures and by Paramount Pictures.

Phonofilm in the UK

In 1926, the owner of a chain of cinemas in the UK, Isadore Schlesinger, acquired the UK rights to Phonofilm. DeForest and Schlesinger filmed short films of British music hall performers such as Marie Lloyd Jr. and Billy Merson -- along with famous stage actors such as Sybil Thorndike reading excerpts of works by Shakespeare, Shaw, and Dickens -- from September 1926 to May 1929. (In July 1925, The Gentleman, a comedy short directed by William J. Elliott in Phonofilm, was the first sound-on-film production made in England.)

On 4 October 1926, Phonofilm made its UK premiere with a program of short films presented at the Empire Cinema in London, including a short film with Sidney Bernstein welcoming Phonofilm to the UK. According to the British Film Institute website, the UK division of DeForest Phonofilm was taken over in August 1928 by British Talking Pictures and its subsidiary British Sound Film Productions which was formed in September 1928.

In March 1929, a feature film The Clue of the New Pin, a part-talkie based on an Edgar Wallace novel, was trade-shown with The Crimson Circle, a German-UK coproduction which was also based on a Wallace novel. Crimson was filmed in DeForest Phonofilm, and Pin was made in British Phototone, a sound-on-disc process using 12-inch phonograph records synchronized with the film. However, the UK divisions of both Phonofilm and British Phototone soon closed.

The last films made in the UK in Phonofilm were released in early 1929, due to competition from Vitaphone, and rival sound-on-film systems Fox Movietone and RCA Photophone. The release of Alfred Hitchcock's sound feature film Blackmail in June 1929, made in RCA Photophone, sealed the fate of Phonofilm in the UK.

Phonofilm in Australia

In June 1925, Phonofilm opened its first Australian office at 129 Bathurst Street in Sydney. On 6 July 1925, the first program of Phonofilms in Australia were shown at the Piccadilly Theatre in Sydney. A program was also shown at the Prince Edward Theatre in November and December 1925.

On 6 April 1927, Minister for Trade Herbert Pratten appeared in a DeForest film to celebrate the opening of a Phonofilm studio in Rushcutters Bay in Sydney. On 12 May 1927, a Phonofilm of the Duke and Dutchess of York arriving at Farm Cove, New South Wales was shown at the Lyceum Theater in Sydney.[1]

Unfortunately, Phonofilm had to close all of its operations in Australia by October 1927, and sold its remaining studio facilities to an Australian company in October 1928.

Phonofilm in Spain

In 1928, Spanish producer Feliciano Manuel Vitores bought the rights to Phonofilm from DeForest and dubbed it "Fonofilm". He produced four films in the process, Cuando fui león (1928), En confesionario (1928), Va usted en punto con el banco (1928), and El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (1929). The first three were short films directed by Manuel Marín starring Spanish comedian Ramper, and the last was the first sound feature film made in Spain. The feature film was released in Spain by Divina Home Video in 2005, after years of being thought a lost film.

Phonofilm in Latin America

The Maurice Zouary collection at the Library of Congress holds approximately 45 films made in Phonofilm. A DVD produced by Zouary about the history of Phonofilm says that a short film of opera singers performing the Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor was made by the "Latin American division" of Phonofilm. No further information is known about this division of Phonofilm. In 1926, DeForest released a short film referred to as Cuban Sound Documentary which included the Cuban national anthem and excerpts from The Merry Widow. However, little else is known of this film or whether other Phonofilms were made in Cuba.

Legacy of Phonofilm

More than 200 short films were made in the Phonofilm process, with many preserved in the collections of the Library of Congress (45 titles) and the British Film Institute (98 titles). In 1976, five Phonofilm titles were discovered in a trunk in Australia, and these films have been restored by Australia's National Film and Sound Archive.

List of Films Produced in Phonofilm

  1. A Boston Star: Borrah Minnevitch (1923) harmonicist*[2]
  2. A Few Moments With Eddie Cantor, Star of "Kid Boots" (late 1923, early 1924)[3]
  3. A Musical Monologue (1923) with Phil Baker and his accordion[4]*
  4. A. C. Astor with Sentimental Mac (1928) ventriloquist Astor with his dummy Sentimental Mac
  5. The Actors' Squad (1927) short with Lawrence Anderson
  6. The Antidote (1927) dramatic short directed by Thomas Bentley, with Primrose Morgan, Walter Sondes, and Jameson Thomas***
  7. Abraham Lincoln (1924) portrayal of Lincoln by actor Frank McGlynn
  8. Adolph Zukor Introduces Phonofilm (1923) for release of The Covered Wagon and Bella Donna, two Paramount Pictures feature films with soundtracks filmed in Phonofilm[5]
  9. Ag and Bert (1929) with Mabel Constanduros and Michael Hogan, directed by Bertram Phillips
  10. Ain't She Sweet (1928) ?same Phonofilm as "Pilbeam and His Band"
  11. Al Herman (1926) comedian Herman (1887-1967) performing a comedy sketch[6]
  12. Alexander's Ragtime Band (1926)**
  13. Alma Barnes the Internationally Famous Mimic (1926)
  14. Almost a Gentleman (1928) comedy short with Billy Bennett
  15. Alvin and Kelvin Keech (1926) brothers who are credited with the invention of the banjulele (banjo and ukulele)
  16. America's Flyers (1927) filmed at Roosevelt Field (29 June 1927) with Richard E. Byrd, George Noville, and Bert Acosta, with speech given by Grover Whalen (listed in BFI database)
  17. An Attempted Duet (1928) comedy short with Beryl Beresford and Leslie Hinton
  18. Annie Laurie (1926)[7]**
  19. Armistice Day of 1928 (1928) produced by Phonofilms (Singapore) and released by British Sound Film Corporation
  20. Arthur Roberts (1927) comedy and musical short with Arthur Roberts
  21. As We Lie (1927) comedy short with Lillian Hall-Davis and Miles Mander, directed by Mander
  22. Barber and Jackson in The Long and the Short of It (1922) with Barber and Jackson (first names unknown)[8]
  23. Barking Dog (1921) experimental film with barking dog
  24. Being All Alone (1927)
  25. Bella Donna (1923) Paramount Pictures feature film directed by George Fitzmaurice and starring Pola Negri and Conway Tearle[9]
  26. Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1925) with Oscar Levant on piano
  27. Betty Chester the Well-Known Star of The Co-Optimists (1926) Chester sings "Pig-Tail Alley"
  28. Billy Merson Singing Desdemona (1926)
  29. Billy Merson in Scotland's Whiskey (1927) parody of Sir Harry Lauder
  30. Billy Merson in Russian Opera (1927)
  31. Bleak House (1926) aka Grandfather Smallweed, the Miser (UK title) with Bransby Williams***
  32. Boat Race (1929) University Boat Race of 1929 (centenary year)
  33. Boheme Blue (1927) musical short
  34. The Bride (1929) comedy short with George Robey
  35. Brooke Johns and Goodee Montgomery (1925) Johns plays ukulele and Montgomery sings "I'm in Love Again" and dances***
  36. The Burglar and the Girl (1928) comedy short with Moore Marriott and Dorothy Boyd
  37. By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1926) the last of the Fleischer "Song Car-Tunes" with Phonofilm, released August 1926[10] **
  38. Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon (1926)[11]**
  39. Calm as the Night (1927) sung by Mary Cavanova (Marie Cavan)
  40. Canoodling (1928) Hal Jones sings song "Canoodling" from stage review Splinters
  41. Casey at the Bat (1922) famous poem read by actor DeWolf Hopper
  42. Cellist and Pianist (1928) two women play Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" from Carnival of the Animals
  43. Charles Lindbergh (1927) filmed at Clapham Studios in London on Lindbergh's departure from the UK
  44. Charles Lindbergh Reception (1927) Lindbergh receives Medal of Valor from NYC mayor Jimmy Walker
  45. Charles Ross Taggart (1923) "The Old Country Fiddler at the Singing School"[12] *
  46. Charmaine (1928) musical short with Eric Marshall singing
  47. Chauncey Depew (1925) 91-year-old former legislator gives memories of Abraham Lincoln[13]
  48. Chorus Gentlemen (1926) or Chorus, Gentlemen!
  49. Clapham and Dwyer No. 1 (1929) Charles Clapham and Bill Dwyer
  50. Clapham and Dwyer No. 2 (1929) Charles Clapham and Bill Dwyer
  51. Clonk! (1928) musical short with Arty Ash and Leslie Sarony
  52. The Coffee Stall (1927) Mark Lupino (c. 1894-1930) and Company
  53. Cohen on the Telephone (1923) with monologist Monroe Silver[14]*
  54. Come Take a Trip in My Airship (1924) one of the first in the Fleischer "Song Car-Tune" series**
  55. Comin' Thro' the Rye (1926)[15]**
  56. Conchita Piquer (1923) in dance sketch "From Far Seville"[16]*
  57. The Covered Wagon (1923) Paramount Pictures feature directed by James Cruze[17]
  58. Cuando fui león (1928) Spanish producer purchased rights from DeForest for "Fonofilm"
  59. Cuban Sound Documentary (1926) with the Cuban national anthem and excerpts of The Merry Widow[18]
  60. Daisy Bell (1925)[19]**
  61. Dandy George and Rosie (1927) Dandy George (Albert George Spink) and his dog Rosie
  62. Darling Nelly Gray (1926)[20]**
  63. Der rote Kreis (1929) aka The Crimson Circle, UK-German feature based on Edgar Wallace novel, trade-shown in March 1929 in the UK
  64. Dick Henderson Sings "I Love Her All the More" (1926)
  65. Dick Henderson Sings "Tripe" (1926)
  66. Dick Henderson Sings "There Are More Heavens Than One" (1927)
  67. Die Niebelungen (1924), part I, "Siegfried" (only at the U.S. premiere in NYC on August 23, 1925)[21]
  68. Dixie (1925)[22]**
  69. Doing His Duty (1929) Ernie Lotinga playing "Jimmy Josser"
  70. Dolly Gray (1926)**
  71. Domen (1924) Swedish language version of Retribution (1924), directed by Arthur Donaldson[23]
  72. Donald Brian (1925) in Peggy O'Hooligan
  73. Doris Ashton and Billy Rawson (1928)
  74. Downey and Owens (1925) Morton Downey (Sr.) and ?Owens sing "Show Me the Way to Go Home" and "There Is No One Like Myself"
  75. The Duke and Duchess of York Arrive at Farm Cove (1927) film first shown 12 May 1927 at the Lyceum in Sydney, Australia
  76. Dunio and Gegna (1927) instrumental comedians
  77. Drink to Me Only (1926) Gwen Farrar sings title song
  78. East Side, West Side (1925) also known as "The Sidewalks of New York"[24] **
  79. Edith Sitwell (1927) reads from her work
  80. El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (1929) first sound feature film made in Spain
  81. Elga Collins the Versatile Entertainer (1927) Collins sings "Ain't It Nice" and "Tonight You Belong to Me"
  82. Emmie Joyce Sings "I Need Love" (1927)
  83. Emmie Joyce Sings "Patience" (1927)
  84. En confesionario (1928)
  85. Ethel Hook (1926) song by contralto Ethel Hook, sister of classical singer Clara Butt
  86. Eubie Blake Plays His "Fantasy on Swanee River" (1923)[25]
  87. Eva Puck and Sammy White (1923) doing their sketch "Opera vs. Jazz"[26] *
  88. Everybody's Doing It (1926) **
  89. The Fair Maid of Perth (1926) live-action UK film with Louise Maurel, directed by Miles Mander
  90. False Colours (1927) dramatic short with Ursula Jeans and A. B. Imeson (dir. Miles Mander)
  91. Fannie Ward (1924) Fannie Ward sings "Father Time"[27]
  92. Fannie Ward (1924) performs comedy sketch as the "Perennial Flapper"[28]
  93. Farewell Message of Mr. Levine and Captain Hinchcliffe, Just Before Their Departure on Their Return Flight to America (1927) with Charles A. Levine and Capt. W. G. R. Hinchcliffe (1894–1928)
  94. Femina Quartette Nr. 1 (1928) woman pianist, cellist, and vocalist perform[29]
  95. Five Minutes with Al Smith (1924) Franklin D. Roosevelt introduces Smith at 1924 Democratic Convention[30]
  96. The Flat Charleston (1926) with Santos Casani and Josie Lennard
  97. Flying Jenny Airplane (1921) experimental film with Curtiss JN-4 ("Jenny") airplane
  98. Franklin D. Roosevelt Speech (1924) filmed at 1924 Democratic National Convention in NYC[31]
  99. Frivolous Fragments (1927) comedy sketch with Alec Daimler and Dora Eadie
  100. The Gentleman (1925) first sound-on-film UK film, directed by William J. Elliott
  101. George Bernard Shaw (1927) one year before similar film by Fox Movietone News
  102. George Jackley (1885-1950), the Indignant Comedian in "A Doggy Ditty" (1927)
  103. George Jessel (1924) comedy sketch by Jessel[32]
  104. Gilland Singer (1927) M. Gilland from France sings, dressed as wounded World War I soldier
  105. Gimme the Net (1927)
  106. Gloria Swanson Dialogue (1922), Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan[33]
  107. Goodbye My Lady Love (1924)[34]**
  108. Gorno's Italian Marionettes (1928) aka Die singenden Marionetten
  109. Gwen Farrar (1899-1944) cellist Farrar performs "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes" (1926)[35]
  110. Gwen Farrar and songwriter Billy Mayerl perform "I've Got a Sweetie on the Radio" (1926)[36]
  111. Hal Brown Lancashire Comedian (1928)
  112. Harry and Max Nesbitt (1927) film sometimes listed as "Yid Nesbitt" (Max's nickname), brothers from South Africa in "vocal, verbal, and terpsichorean tidbits"
  113. Harry Shalson the Popular Entertainer (1927) Shalson sings "You Go Too Far"
  114. Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? (1926) Fleischer cartoon originally with green and orange tinting[37][38] **
  115. The Hawaiian Revellers (1928) with Kahola Marsh and His Hawaiian Orchestra
  116. Hedicashun (1929) monologue by A. W. Goodwin
  117. Helen Lewis and Her All-Girl Jazz Syncopators (1925) Lewis leads her "all-girl" band [39]
  118. Helen Menken (1925) Broadway star Helen Menken
  119. Henry Cass Demonstration Film (1923)* also at the Engineers Society Auditorium in NYC on April 12, 1923[40]
  120. Her Unborn Child (1930) last feature film made in Phonofilm (screen debut of Elisha Cook)
  121. His Rest Day (1927) comedy short with Matthew Boulton as Bill Gosling[41]
  122. Hot Water and Vegetabuel (1928) Leslie Sarony sings "When You're Up to Your Neck in Hot Water (Think of the Kettle and Sing)"
  123. The Houston Sisters (1926) musical short with Billie and Renee Houston[42]
  124. I Can't Take You Out of My Dreams (1926) Winnie Collins and Walter Williams sing title song[43]
  125. I Don't Believe You're in Love With Me (1926) Winnie Collins and Walter Williams sing title song[44]
  126. I Don't Care What You Used to Be (1927) Dick Henderson sings title song
  127. I Don't Know (1928) Emmie Joyce sings title song
  128. I Love a Lassie (1925)[45] **
  129. I Want a Pie with a Plum In (1926) Dick Henderson sings title song by Wal Clifford[46]
  130. In the Good Old Summer Time (1926) **
  131. I've Never Seen a Straight Banana (1926) sung by Dick Henderson, song by Ted Waite
  132. J. H. Squires' Celesta Octet (1928) aka "Memories of Tschaikovsky" w/The Squires Octet
  133. Jack Pearl and Ben Bard (1926) with Bard, Pearl, and Sascha Beaumont
  134. Joe Termini the Somnolent Melodist (1926) specialty musician performs on violin and banjo[47]
  135. Joe Theiss Saxotette (1929)
  136. John Citizen's Lament (1927) Charles Paton performs song "If Your Face Wants to Smile, We'll Let It In" from revue John Citizen's Lament
  137. John W. Davis Campaign Speech (1924), Democratic candidate who lost to Coolidge[48]
  138. Josephine Earle (1929) musical short
  139. Josser, KC (1929) Ernie Lotinga playing "Jimmy Josser" (poss. dupe of Doing His Duty)
  140. The Jubilee Four (1924) gospel quartet
  141. Julius Caesar (1926) excerpt from the Shakespeare play, with Basil Gill as Brutus and Malcolm Keen as Cassius[49]
  142. Knee Deep in Daisies (1926) song "I'm Knee-Deep in Daisies (and Head Over Heels in Love)" sung by Paul England and Dorothy Boyd[50]
  143. Kollege Kapers (1929) comedy short written and directed by Bobby Harmon
  144. La Chauve-Souris (1923) Nikita Balieff's group La Chauve-Souris performing their sketch "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" (? with Technicolor sequence)[51][52]*
  145. Lee DeForest (1922) DeForest standing in front of a curtain and explaining Phonofilm
  146. Lillian Powell Bubble Dance (1923)* also shown at the Engineers Society Auditorium in NYC April 12, 1923[53]***
  147. Lincoln, the Man of the People (1923) Edwin Markham reads his poem "Lincoln, the Man of the People"
  148. The London Four (1927) male voice quartet
  149. The Long and the Short of It (1923) with ?Barber and Jackson, man and woman vaudevillian
  150. Love's Old Sweet Song (1923) two-reeler with Louis Wolheim, Donald Gallaher, and Una Merkel, cinemotography by Freeman Harrison Owens[54]
  151. Lulu (1928) musical short
  152. Luna-cy! (1925) 1922 experimental 3-D film by Frederick Ives and Jacob Leventhal re-released with Phonofilm soundtrack 18 May 1925
  153. Madelon (1927) Camille Gillard in "Madelon", directed by Widgey Newman
  154. The Man in the Street (1926) short based on Louis N. Parker play, directed by Thomas Bentley, with Wilbur Lenton, John MacAndrews, and Bunty O'Nolan (UK title: Man of Mystery)[55]
  155. Margie (1926)[56]**
  156. Marie Lloyd Jr. (1926) daughter of music hall star Marie Lloyd[57]
  157. Marie Rappold (1922) Metropolitan Opera star[58]
  158. Mark Griver and His Scottish Revellers (1927) perform "She Was Just a Sailor's Sweetheart" and "Ain't She Sweet"[59]
  159. Medevedeff's Balalaika Orchestra (1929)
  160. The Merchant of Venice (1927) the trial scene, with Joyce Lyons and Lewis Casson
  161. Mickey (1927) **
  162. Miss Edith Kelly-Lange (1927) violin solo
  163. Miss Lalla Dodd, the Modern Soubrette (1927)
  164. Mirth and Magic (1928) unidentified magician performs his magic act
  165. Mother, Mother, Mother Pin a Rose on Me (1924)[60] **
  166. Mr. George Mozart the Famous Comedian (1928) comedy short [61]
  167. Mr. Smith Wakes Up (1929) comedy short with Elsa Lanchester
  168. Mrs. Mephistopheles (1929) comedy short with George Robey as title character
  169. My Bonnie (1925) aka My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean **
  170. My Old Kentucky Home (1926) first to use "Follow the Bouncing Ball"[62] **
  171. My Wife's Gone to the Country (1926)[63]**
  172. Nervo and Knox (1926) perform their song "The Love of Phtohtenese" (pronounced "Hot Knees")[64]
  173. The New Paris Lido Club Band (1928)
  174. The Nightingale's Courtship (1927) French clowns, the Plattier Brothers
  175. Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake (1923) perform their song "Affectionate Dan" and "All God's Chillen Got Shoes"[65]
  176. Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake Sing Snappy Songs (1923) sing "Sons of Old Black Joe" and "My Swanee Home"[66]
  177. Norah Blaney (1927) Blaney plays piano and sings "He's Funny That Way" and "How About Me"
  178. Nutcracker Suite (1925)[67] **
  179. Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (1926)[68] **
  180. Oh I Wish I Was in Michigan (1927) **
  181. Oh Mabel (1924) early entry in the Fleischer "Sound Car-Tune" series[69] **
  182. Oh What a Pal Was Mary (1926)**
  183. Oh Suzanna (1925)**
  184. Oh, You Beautiful Doll (1926) **
  185. Old Black Joe (1926)[70] **
  186. Old Folks at Home (1925) ?dupe of "Swanee" entry below **
  187. Old Pal (1926) ?possible dupe of title below, also sometimes listed as "My Old Pal" of "Dear Old Pal"[71]
  188. Old Pal Why Don't You Answer Me (1926)
  189. Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag (1926) Fleischer cartoon **
  190. Packing Up (1927) dramatic short with Mary Clare and Malcolm Keen
  191. Paul Specht Musical Number (1925)
  192. Peace and Quiet (1929) with Ralph Lynn and Winifred Shotter, play by Ronald Jeans
  193. Percival and Hill (1927)
  194. The Percival Mackey Trio (1929)
  195. Percy Pryde and His Phonofiddle on the Phonofilm (1928)
  196. Philip Ritte and His Revellers (1927)
  197. Phonofilm (1923) with Binnie Barnes[72]
  198. Pilbeam and His Band With Specialty Dance by the Misses Tosch (1927) jazzy version of "Ain't She Sweet?" (?Arnold Pilbeam, father of Nova Pilbeam); ?same as other "Ain't She Sweet" film
  199. Plastigrams (1924) 1922 experimental 3-D film by Frederick Ives and Jacob Leventhal, re-released with Phonofilm soundtrack on 22 September 1924[73]
  200. President Calvin Coolidge, Taken on the White House Grounds (1924) filmed 11 August 1924[74]
  201. Punch and Judy (1928)
  202. The Radio Bug (1926) comedy short, produced by Jack White, directed by Stephen Roberts and co-starring Phil Dunham, Toy Gallagher and Clem Beauchamp, about delivery of a new radio, released in sound and silent versions by Educational Pictures[75][76]
  203. The Radio Franks (1926) NYC radio stars Frank Bessinger and Frank Wright sing "Remember" and "Hooray for Radio"[77] ***
  204. Raymond Hitchcock Sketch (1924)
  205. Rigoletto, Act Two (1923) with opera singer Eva Leoni (1895–1972) *
  206. Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. (1924) speech given during 1924 presidential campaign[78]
  207. Rocky Road to Dublin (1927) **
  208. Roger Wolfe Kahn Musical Number (1925)[79]
  209. Romeo et Juliette (1927) tenor Otakar Marak and soprano Mary Cavanova (Marie Cavan)
  210. Safety First (1928) comedy short with George Robey
  211. Sailing, Sailing (1925) ?dupe of title below **
  212. Sailing, Sailing, Over the Bounding Main (1925)
  213. Saint Joan (1927) cathedral scene from Shaw's play, with Sybil Thorndike
  214. Sammy Fain and Artie Dunn (1923) before Fain quit to become full-time songwriter
  215. Santa Claus (1926) with Basil Gill as Santa Claus[80]
  216. The Saventini Trio (1927) two ballads and Hungarian dance performed by male trio
  217. Scovell and Wheldon (1926) sing "Ukulele Lullaby" and "Fresh Milk Comes From Cows" (?Phillip Scovell and Phyllis Wheldon)
  218. Scrooge (1928) with Bransby Williams as Scrooge
  219. Sensations of 1927 (1927) Thorpe Bates in excerpt of Lawrence Wright's Sensations of 1927
  220. The Sentence of Death (1927) dramatic short directed by Miles Mander and starring Dorothy Boyd (US title: His Great Moment)
  221. Sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor (1923) DVD by Zouary shows it to be produced by the ?"Latin American division" of Phonofilm[81]
  222. The Sheik of Araby (1926) Fleischer cartoon **
  223. The Sheik of Araby (1926) live-action short directed in the UK by Miles Mander
  224. Sidney Bernstein Welcomes Phonofilm (1926) shown 4 October 1926 at the Empire Cinema in London
  225. So Blue (1927) with ?Delys and Clark
  226. Songs of Yesterday (1922) spirituals sung by Abbie (Abbey) Mitchell[82]
  227. Sonia Serova Dancers (1924) modern dance group performs to Edvard Grieg's "Song of Spring"[83]
  228. The Stage Hands (1928)
  229. Stringed Harmony (1923) with ukulele and banjo player Roy Smeck[84]*
  230. The Sugar Step (1928)
  231. Swanee River (1925)**
  232. Sweet Adeline (1926)[85] **
  233. Syncopation and Song (1927) with The Coney Island Six
  234. Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Dee-Aye (1926)**
  235. Teddy Brown (1927)
  236. Teddy Brown, Xylophonist (1929)
  237. Thorpe Bates (1926)[86]
  238. The Three Rascals and a Piano (1927)
  239. To See If My Dreams Come True (1927) Jack Hodges sings title song
  240. Tommy Lorne and "Dumplings" (1927)
  241. Tommy Lorne (1927) sings "The Lard Song"
  242. Toot Toot (1926) Fleischer cartoon ("Toot Toot Tootsie"?)**
  243. Topsey-Turvey (1927) comedian Arthur Roberts sings "Topsey-Turvey"
  244. The Toy Shop (1928)
  245. The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1927) **
  246. Tramp, Tramp, Tramp the Boys Are Marching (1926) **
  247. Tumbledown Shack in Athlone (1927) **
  248. Unmasked (1929) mystery feature film (released by Weiss Brothers Artclass Films)
  249. Va usted en punto con el banco (1928)
  250. Ventriloquist (1927) with William Frawley and girl who becomes the dummy (BFI database)
  251. Vicarage Trio—Kerbstone Entertainment (1928)
  252. The Victoria Girls (1928) perform "The Doll Dance", their "famous dancing medley"
  253. Waiting for the Robert E. Lee (1927) **
  254. Weber and Fields (1923) doing their pool hall sketch[87] *
  255. Westminster Glee Singers (1927) group directed by Edward Branscombe
  256. When I Leave This World Behind (1926) **
  257. When I Lost You (1926)[88] **
  258. When That Yiddisher Band Played an Irish Tune (1926) with Teddy Elben and His Irish Jewzaleers[89]
  259. When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabam' (1926)[90]**
  260. The Whistler (1926) dramatic short with Louise Maurel, John Hamilton, and Reginald Fox directed by Miles Mander[91]
  261. Why Bananas? (1926) with Teddy Elben
  262. Wyn Gladwyn, One Person Two Personalities (1928)
  263. Yak-A-Hula-Hick-A-Doola (1926)[92] **
  264. You and I and My Gondola (1927)
  265. Yvette Darnac (1929) radio star Darnac sings Gershwin tune "The Man I Love"

(*) Included in program of Phonofilms at the Rivoli Theater in NYC on 15 April 1923
(**) Fleischer "Song Car-Tunes" series (some titles later re-released by the Fleischers in their "Screen Songs" series, through Paramount Pictures, with new soundtracks recorded in RCA Photophone)
(***) Found in a trunk in Windsor, New South Wales, Australia in early 1976, and restored by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

See also


  1. ^ De Forest Phonofilms - Rushcutters Bay
  2. ^ SilentEra entry
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  11. ^ IMDB entry
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  37. ^ IMDB entry
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  52. ^ IMDB entry
  53. ^ SilentEra entry
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  71. ^ SilentEra entry
  72. ^ SilentEra entry
  73. ^ SilentEra entry
  74. ^ SilentEra entry
  75. ^ SilentEra entry
  76. ^ IMDB entry
  77. ^ SilentEra entry
  78. ^ SilentEra entry
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  80. ^ SilentEra entry
  81. ^ SilentEra entry
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  87. ^ SilentEra entry
  88. ^ SilentEra entry
  89. ^ SilentEra entry
  90. ^ SilentEra entry
  91. ^ SilentEra entry
  92. ^ SilentEra entry

External links

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