Savant Column

Tuesday March 20, 2018


Joe Dante sends along this four-minute Slate YouTube piece called Meep Meep! The Surprising History of Classic Cartoon Sound Effects. Although it spends most of its time off the subject at hand, there’s some good info here.

This second YouTube link is floating everywhere, but Savant’s source is Charlie Largent. It’s six minutes of fairly amazing vintage film footage, given the self-explanatory title Dec 7, 1929 – Driving Through Broadway At Daytime, NYC (real sound). Just seeing the people is fascinating, but we get scores of marquees touting ‘all talking, all singing’ movies, plus the names of stars like Jean Arthur, Rudy Vallee, George Arliss, etc., up in lights. Instant time machine!

It starts with a shot of a marquee plugging Hearst Movietone News, so the reel was probably filmed to test a new camera setup. The sync sound is amazing, really adding to the effect. We can even hear the cameraman yelling to the driver: ‘Slow!’

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson