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key to Illustrations
1 Johnnie Daniels (John Beal), young Benny Allen (Dickie Moore) and "The Arkansas Traveler," (Bob Burns), in Hollywood's picture of the same name examine the plans and a miniature model of a newspaper's adio station.
2 The principals shown at 1 discuss with Mrs. Martha Allen, widowed publisher of the Record, the status of the mayoralty election which the jerry-built radio station, above, influenced.
3 Hundreds of hoboes summoned by grapevine and supposedly railroad telegraph work throughout the night to help "The Arkansas Traveier" erect an antenna for the Records broadcast station.
4 The newspaper's radio station, set up "in time to meet the deadline set by the Federal Radio Commission," helps make Johnnie Daniels mayor and fiancee (Judy Allen) oh so happy.
5 A Welsh accent verbally analyzed by "Professor Higgins" is picked up by a microphone . concealed in a statue of Buddha, and recorded.
6 Jean Cadell as Mrs. Pierce aid Leslie Howard as Professor Higgins during the recording of examples of pronunciation by unsuspecting human guinea pigs.
7 During playback the gems of phoneticism are analyzed. A wax model of the human ear adds decoration to the corner of the desk.
8 Scotts Sunderland as Colonel Pickering hears Leslie Howard as Professor Higgins discourse on the technique of recording accents.
Mystery plays, comedies, color-movies, these and many other types of motion pictures have utilized radio in some form to round out the script or the staging. Radio finally came into its own, though, last month, when Paramount Pictures released "Arkansas Traveler," and MetroGoldwyn-Mayer sponsored "Pygmalion." These two top-flight sound motion pictures depend, in the first instance, on radio broadcasting, and in the second, on sound recording, as the main theme.
Hollywood Goes Radio!
Critics of broadcasting have, at times, accused radio of "going Hollywood."
This time the reverse is true. "Hollywood" has "gone radio" — and in a big way. Not only has the film city become the site of important N.B.C. and C.B.S. key studios, but recent rave-rating American pictures — even those of film centers in other countries — have had a marked radio slant.
Two of these pictures, "Pygmalion," a British dramatization of George Bernard Shaw's famous comedy-satire of manners, and "The Arkansas Traveler," a starring vehicle for Bob Burns, the Will Rogers of today, use a great deal of radio and sound apparatus as important adjuncts to their story structure. In fact, the whole plot of the latter picture binges upon a home-made radio transmitter.
In this picture, Burns, a tramp printer, comes to the rescue of Mrs. Martha Allen, newspaper publisher and owner of a valuable franchise to construct a radio station in a small mid-western town. The mayor (hisses!) is trying to hornswoggle Martha out of the franchise by threatening to run out of town any man who works on the station.
However, the Arkansas Traveler (Burns) sends out word (by railroad telegraph, and supposedly ensuing "courtesies of the road") to his hobo pals, and soon several hundred of them arrive, and start working under the direction of the Mayor's son, who is in love with Mrs. Allen's daughter. Without stopping to eat or sleep for 2 nights and 2 days, the tramps stick to the job, living on coffee and sandwiches supplied by the ladies Aid Auxiliary. Of course they finished the rig in time for Mrs. Allen to hold her franchise, or it wouldn't have been a movie!
As you can see by the illustrations on these pages, the station was planned through models made of Meccano parts; its towers were made of angle iron. The actual transmitter was of the old, familiar breadboard type that looks terrible but always works. Had it been more commercial in its appearance it would have been less picturesque in its dramatic deshabille.
In "Pygmalion," the story deals with a cockney flower girl, who, taught to speak correctly, rises high in society. The leading masculine role, that of Professor Higgins, was played by Leslie Howard.
To win a bet, Higgins takes an uneducated girl, who speaks atrocious English with a terrible accent, and gives her what amounts to a series of expert lessons in elocution. Departing from the script of the play as it was originally written, the movie professor uses highly elaborate sound recording equipment in making his study of the girl's voice. His apparatus includes Kymographs, microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers, and a flickering flame or manometer type of oscilloscope.
The oscilloscope used in the picture is extremely interesting. It is far more picturesque than the familiar cathod-ray tube type, though not nearly as convenient nor efficient. In the pictured device, the old principle of a "talking flame" is employed. This is a gas flame caused to flicker by impressing the voice frequencies on a diaphragm which controls the flow of gas to the burner. The flame, in this form of crude oscilloscope, is viewed in a multi-surfaced mirror revolved at constant speed.
Also seen in the illustrations which accompany this article are the phonograph recorder, with which the Professor is tinkering, several microphones and a loudspeaker.
In order to secure recordings without the subject of the experiments becoming aware of any possible shenannigans the microphone is concealed in an ornamental statue of Buddha, on a table, placed conveniently near the unwitting guinea pig in human form.
There have been numerous films before which dealt with the entertainment side of radio-the "Big Broadcast" series, for example-but this is thought to be the first time that two smash hits have appeared in the same season, each featuring the technical side of radio or electronics.
In "Trade Winds," a Walter Wanger Production, recently shown at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and starring Fredric March and Joan Bennett, a detective-phone and sound system were used to smoke out the villian The real murderer was induced to confess his crime as the result of a simulated news broadcast from a midget radio set, in the belief that there were no legal witnesses; actually, a microphone was concealed in the midget receiver and the confession, reproduced from a second radio set in an adjacent reception room, was heard by a large assemblage!
"Thanks for Everything" stars Adolphe Menjou in a 20th Century-Fox production based on a radio network program contest to find "Mr. Average American Citizen." In a simulated program that reminds us of Radio-Craft's recent article "How to Stage Your Own Broadcast," Jack Haley, the contest winner, has his manhood stirred by a fake war-declaration broadcast that includes realistic sound effects of a flotilla of enemy planes flying over and "bombing" the city.
In "Topper Takes a Trip," a United Artists Picture, Constance Bennett and Roland Young are initiated into the mysteries of remote tuning. They are indeed surprised when what they take to be a dial telephone actually turns out to be a means of tuning-in various broadcast stations, on a receiver across the room, by remote control.
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