MGM At The Dawn Of Sound
You might want to highlight and enlarge the above trade ads, because the small print yields some fascinating insight into Metro's sale strategies during that first turbulant year of sound production. These promotions were designed to herald the coming 1929-30 release season, and the feature page clearly illustrates the battle lines now drawn between "wired" and still-silent houses. Exhibitors who couldn't afford the very expensive sound equipment were exerting a lot of pressure for the studios to continue providing silent product. The compromise was to offer silent versions of talking pictures, a generally unsatisfactory solution that left audiences feeling cheated. Metro still had a number of important silent attractions opening throughout 1929 --- Desert Nights, Our Modern Maidens, Speedway --- and each of these were available with synchronized music/effects scores on disc. Their final silent feature would be The Kiss, released November 2, 1929. As for those silent versions of talking pictures, one can only imagine the frustration of watching The Broadway Melody in such a presentation, yet many audiences did, and I'd venture to say that MOST small-town and rural patrons saw the groundbreaking musical sans music. Many exhibitors complained that the so-called "silent" versions were merely the same prints used for the talkie presentations, minus the discs. With no intertitles, and of course no sound, you can imagine the confusion that would attend any screening of such hybrids.