Hal Roach Studios Query

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Tommie Hicks
Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:11 pm

Hal Roach Studios Query

Postby Tommie Hicks » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:14 am

What was the first Hal Roach film released that had a sound on film soundtrack as opposed to the sound on disc system that Roach studios started out with.

Thanks in advance.

Richard M Roberts
Posts: 2092
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Hal Roach Studios Query

Postby Richard M Roberts » Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:12 am

Tommie Hicks wrote:What was the first Hal Roach film released that had a sound on film soundtrack as opposed to the sound on disc system that Roach studios started out with.

Thanks in advance.

That’s an interesting question Tommy, and I’m assuming you mean when did MGM start offering prints of Hal Roach Comedies with the option of EITHER sound-on –film or sound-on-disc prints, because the studio basically offered both options to exhibitors for years, even as late as 1934 (I have seen sound-on-disc prints of films like DUCK SOUP and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT over the years).

By the winter of 1929, basically all of the studios apart from Warner Brothers had made the switch to offer prints to exhibitors in either format, as they realized that talkies were here to stay, and that they were losing too many exhibitors by adhering to one format or the other, and at the same time, they also realized that it would be economically hard on the exhibitors to force them to invest in new sound projection equipment again when they had just spent the money to equip for sound in whatever format they had just purchased. This is why, even when sound-on-film was beginning to prove the better medium, studios still had to agree to supply sound-on-disc to exhibitors for x-number of years until they could afford to replace their old Vitaphone systems.

That said, as far as Hal Roach was concerned, the first shorts that I know of being made available with sound-on-film tracks were his November 1929 releases: Laurel and Hardy’s THE HOOSEGOW, and Harry Langdon’s SKIRT SHY. I have seen a nitrate original print of SKIRT SHY that has a soundtrack, and THE HOOSEGOW was the only one of the Boy’s 1929 releases that was reissued by Film Classics that had not been reissued in the 1930’s, which was the reason that MEN O’WAR and PERFECT DAY were reissued by Film Classics because the Roach Studio had already made sound-on-film tracks for them in the 1930’s. Film Classics made no new soundtracks for the shorts that had been released only on sound-on-disc, which is why they never reissued UNNACUSTOMED AS WE ARE, BERTH MARKS, or THEY GO BOOM, nor any of the 1929 Charley Chase talkies, nor the first two Harry Langdon shorts or those 1929 talkie All-Stars. I also don’t believe any of the Laurel and Hardy late silents that had scores were released with sound-on-film tracks, unless ANGORA LOVE was, and I’ve never seen any evidence of that.

Of course, MGM continued to supply sound-on-disc prints of all the Hal Roach comedies through the early 30’s to exhibitors who wanted them, I’ve seen Vitaphone discs for a number of them, including the ones for BRATS that my good friend Gary Lacher uncovered that is the reason we now have both the original soundtrack and the late 30’s reissue track to that film.


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