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1930 Chronokey Chronomedia index
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  Cultural highlights | Predictions made this year  
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January 7  Picture telegraphy service opened between London and Berlin using the Siemens-Karolus system; the charge is provisionally fixed at £1 for a 15 sq.ins picture.  
January 8  Granada cinema, DoverGranada Cinema in Dover, England, is opened by Sidney and Cecil Bernstein as the first in a proposed cinema circuit replacing that inherited from their father, Alexander Bernstein, that was sold off in 1928. Russian-born designer Theodore Komisarjevsky, who later designs many other Granada cinemas, creates the auditorium in a Moorish style, the foyer in Louis XV. Theodore Komisarjevsky
January 16  RCA demonstrates large screen television at RKO-58th Street Theatre, New York. The system employs a rotating-lens disc, Kerr cell and carbon arc light source giving a 7.5ft x 10ft of 60 lines.  
January  French talkie La Route est Belle takes Ffr 1.2m ($12,000) a week after a month on release in Marseille, compared with Ffr 1m for a typical American release from the whole of France. Overall French cinema takings for the month are 40 per cent higher in Paris, 80 per cent in the rest of France, than in the same month a year ago.  
January  Leon Schlesinger begins production of the Looney Tunes cartoon series, funded by Warner Bros to plug songs for which they have publishing rights.  
February 10  BBC acquires news agency tape tickers from which it edits news bulletins.  
February  In the US the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) establishes a commission to agree a common approach between Hollywood studios about producing foreign-language versions of films. [0041]  
February  First successful short-wave radio relay broadcast from London to Tokyo.  
early  Short silent film Morgenstunde hat Gold im Munde (The early bird catches the worm) specially made for low-definition television by F Banneitz of Commerz-Film AG, Berlin for Deutscher Reichs-Rundfunkgesellschaft.  
early  NBC’s pioneer experimental television station, W2XBS, begins test transmissions in New York.  
early  Paramount releases its first trial run of French talkie shorts, with an average budget of $4,000 each. Although initially more successful than expected, they are met with increasing resistance for not being sufficiently French. > April
March 14  Experimental sound and vision transmissions of Baird 30-line television system begin from the Brookmans Park transmitter, vision on 261.3m, sound on 356.3m. > March 31
March 22  First radio broadcast from a ‘talkie’ soundtrack in BBC programme Diversion No 2.  
March 24  Experimental television station W2XBS in New York televises a religious service for the first time.  
March 31  Synchronisation of Baird television pictures and sound is achieved. < March 14
March 31  Ramsey MacDonald letter to J L BairdJohn Logie Baird installs a Televisor receiver at 10 Downing Street, London, the prime minister’s residence. The following week, Ramsey MacDonald writes to Baird, 'When I look at the transmissions I feel that the most wonderful miracle is being done under my eye. ... You have put something in my room which will never let me forget how strange is this world—and how unknown.' Click on image to see the letter
March  At Paramount's Paris facility, producer Robert Kane has 60 sound shorts complete and 10 features in production.  
March  International Broadcasting Company (IBC) is formed by Captain Leonard Plugge to produce sponsored English-language programmes for transmission from European radio stations. With headquarters at 11 Hallam Street, adjacent to the building site of the BBC's new Broadcasting House, its production subsidiary is the Universal Programme Company.  
March  First national radio advertising campaign for a film in France is for the release of Parade d'Amour, a Maurice Chevalier film in which Paramount has replaced the English dialogue with intertitles in French. [0041]  
April 1  Blue AngelWorld premiere of Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) in its German-language version at the Gloria Palast cinema in Berlin. It is the most successful and most expensive German film to date, costing RM2m. > English-language premiere July 4
> US premiere December 5
April 20  Rhythm Boys in King of JazzRhapsody in Blue in King of JazzPremiere at the Criterion Theatre, Los Angeles of the Universal musical King of Jazz, made in two-strip Technicolor and running 105 minutes. Among other things this series of production numbers—as a vehicle for Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra—includes an animated sequence in colour that precedes the first such short (Fiddlesticks), the first feature film appearance of Bing Crosby, singing with the Rhythm Boys [left], and a performance of Rhapsody in Blue [right] by the composer, George Gershwin, the commissioning of which gave Whiteman the excuse to adopt the epithet that gives the film its title.
        All the musical numbers are pre-recorded, the performers miming to playback, at the suggestion of Whiteman. Not only did this produce a better quality recoding, it made the shooting simpler by being able concentrate separately on sound and picture. Among costs of the film: $30,000 to George Gershwin, $200 a week for each member of Whiteman's orchestra (a total of $440,000), $200,000 and a percentage of the gross to Whiteman himself, and $50,000 to director John Murray Anderson. Total cost $1.65m.
 
April  Paramount sets up a European production base at Joinville, Paris—nicknamed 'Babel-sur-Seine'— with a budget of $10m to make 60 films a year in six languages. In fact, 100 low-grade features are produced in 14 languages within the first year. > December
> July 1932
April  Soviet government forms Intorgkino to control all film import-export business. [0036]  
April  Cinema-television demonstration is given in Chicago by Ulysses A Sanabria. The images measure 2ft x 5ft. > 1931
April  MPPDA (Hays Office) ratifies the self-censorship Production Code, devised by Martin Quigley and Rev Daniel A Lord to counter calls for federal film censorship. > 1934 July
May 2  Grand opening of King of Jazz at the Roxy Theatre, New York. During the first week the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and the 125-strong Roxy Symphony Orchestra perform Rhapsody in Blue and other numbers, with vocals by Mildred Bailey and the Roxy Chorus. The film runs for only a second week after the stage show ends.  
May 22  General Electric Company (GEC) screens a cinema-television demonstration at Proctor's Theater, Schenectady, NY. The system is similar to RCA's. The screen image of 6ft x 7ft is half the brightness of conventional carbon arc projection.  
May 23  Press show of the first Australian sound film, Fellers, produced by Artaus Films.  
May 26  Song of a nightingale is broadcast live by the BBC from a wood in Berkshire. [Photo source: BBC]  
May/June  Sovkino is replaced by a vertically integrated Soyuzfilm to manage all Soviet domestic film and cinema activity. [0036]  
June 6  MPPDA (Hays Office) adopts an Advertising Code.  
June  Japan’s NHK establishes its Technical Research Laboratories and begins work on television research.  
summer  Australian radio broadcasters ABC, 2UW, 3DB, 4BH and 5AD collaborate to provide coverage of the cricket test match series in England.  
July 4  Premiere of the English-language version of The Blue Angel in London. > December 5
July 14  First television drama transmitted from the Baird studio: Luigi Pirandello’s The Man with a Flower in his Mouth [right].  
July  The Manchester Guardian publishes the first television drama review.  
July  Patents war between US and German sound film technology rivals comes to an end at a Paris conference with the agreement that Tobis and Klangfilm will have exclusive access to mainland European markets. Only Denmark is excluded because of patent claims by Petersen and Poulsen. The rest of the world is allocated either to Western Electric and RCA or is open to competition. The technical standards are made compatible around the world.  
July 28  Baird large screen TVFirst UK public demonstration of large screen television. Conducted by Baird at London Coliseum variety theatre using screen composed of 2,100 lamps operated by mechanical commutator switch to give picture of 30ins x 70ins. The system is used in the theatre programme for three weeks. Click on picture for more
July 30  RCA installs a large-screen television system at an RKO cinema in Schenectady, NY. The screen is five feet high.  
August 9  First appearance of Betty Boop in Max Fleischer's Dizzy Dishes animated short.  
August 16  Ub Iwerks' FiddlesticksFirst all-colour (two-strip Technicolor) sound (Cinephone) animated short (six minutes) is released by MGM: Fiddlesticks, featuring Flip the Frog and animated by Ub Iwerks, his first production since leaving the Walt Disney Company.  
August 20  Allan DuMont makes his first experimental television transmissions.  
August 23  For the release of the musical Good News, MGM introduces cue marks for reel changes. 'In the future, and until further notice, all changeover signals will be visual. These signals appear at the end of the reel in the form of a round black spot appearing steady in the upper right corner of the screen during four consecutive frames. ... The signal is fashioned so that it is clearly visible if watched for, but not particularly noticeable to an audience. Two sets of these signals appear at the end of the each reel. The first set is the signal to start the motor of the incoming machine, and the second set is the signal to cut over picture and sound.' Hitherto projectionists were supplied by the distributor with a printed cue sheet. There has been no further notice. This is still the convention
August 26  Philo Farnsworth’s electronic television system is granted the patent that was applied for in 1927 but delayed by RCA legal actions.  
August  RKO adopts the Dunning process to reduce costs, especially for multiple-language versioning. The actors and foreground are shot through a colour transparency of the background scene. This background could be sent for use in studios in other countries. The first film made using this technique is Beau Idéal. The system is shortlived but is still in use for RKO's 1933 release King Kong.
August  MGM and Paramount begin dubbing films for foreign release.  
September 13  Screening of Madhuri, first Indian film to include synchronous sound in an otherwise silent movie, for one song by Sulochana (real name Ruby Meyers).  
September 23  In Germany, Johannes Ostermeier patents the photographic flashbulb.  
September  BBC acquires a Blattnerphone steel-tape audio recording machine, which is installed in the Research Department at Avenue House in Clapham, South London. > 1931
October 9  First talking picture made in Denmark is premièred: Eskimo, directed by G Schneevogt.  
October 22  BBC Symphony Orchestra makes its first broadcast.  
October 30  Première of first Romanian talkie: Ciuleandra, directed by Martin Berger.  
October  Warner Bros now owns 700 cinemas. At the time of the premiere of The Jazz Singer it owned one.  
November 5-13  Baird closed circuit television transmissions at Hairdressing Fair of Fashion include the first advertising: for the Eugène Method of permanent hair waving.  
November 26  Release of the Vitaphone operetta Viennese Nights, directed by Alan Crosland, is the first Warner Bros production to use shooting to playback for musical numbers.  
November  The Scophony Company is first registered in the UK for television development purposes.  
December 5  US premiere of The Blue Angel (English version) at the Rialto cinema, New York. It takes a record $60,000 in its first week.  
December 29  Radio Luxembourg begins broadcast on 208m MW (not yet used for English-language services).  
December  Paramount launches a competition among French writers for stories reflecting national culture and tastes that could be turned into films, with a jury of French writers. The results are later described 'as indisputably French as French-fried potatoes'.  
December  Number of US cinemas: 21,700, of which 13,500 have sound installations. Total in UK is 4,000 of which 2,725 have sound.  
•  UK: 195 new cinemas built during year with 292,000 seats; 3,651 halls wired for sound, bringing total to 63 per cent. Start of the ‘super-cinema’ building period.  
•  US gross cinema revenue is $730m; Hollywood studios combined net profit is $52m.  
•  Associated British Cinemas now has 120 cinemas.  
•  British International Pictures (BIP), owner of Elstree Studios, acquires British Instructional Pictures (Proprietors) and its Welwyn Studios. [0019]  
•  No more than 20 cinemas have been equipped for the new large (63mm, 65mm and 70mm) film formats being espoused by major studios: Fox Grandeur, Warner Vitascope and MGM Realife. Exhibitors do not want the additional cost of new projectors and lenses on top of wiring for sound. Versions are shot in 35mm alongside the large format.  
•  Soyuzkino is established to centralise all activity in the USSR film industry as part of Stalin's first Five-Year Plan. The aim is to make the industry self-sufficient and to ensure adherence to social realism by Soviet film-makers. American film imports are also banned. Film quotas and levies
•  Barrandov studios built in Czechoslovakia.  
•  Paramount merges with Publix and becomes Paramount Publix Corporation.  
•  Newly formed film companies: Monogram (USA, production), Europa Film (Sweden, production), Gaumont-Franco-Films-Aubert (GFFA, France, vertically integrated production/distribution/exhibition).  
•  The peak year for two-strip Technicolor releases: seven from Warner Bros, four from First National, two from Paramount and one each from MGM, United Artists (Whooppee!, produced by Goldwyn) and Universal (King of Jazz)—a total of 16 films.  
•  Hell's Angels, produced and directed by Howard Hughes, is the most expensive film ever made, partly because it had started as a silent production in 1927 and has been re-shot for sound and is partly in colour.  
•  Cash prizes for Australian films, as recommended by the Royal Commission in 1928, are instigated but a lack of suitable productions means that only a third prize is awarded. The scheme is dropped after the following year's awards.  
•  First sound films are produced in several countries.
• Belgium: La Famille Klepkens, directed by Gaston Schoukens and Paul Flon;
• Brazil: Acabaram-se os Otarios, directed by Luis de Barros;
• China: Singsong Girl Red Peony, starring Butterfly Wu and directed by Chang Shih-chuan for Star Film Company;
• Cuba: El Caballero de Max, directed by Jaime San-Andrews using the Vitaphone system;
• Czechoslovakia [Czech]: Tonka of the Gallows, directed by Karel Anton (see also 1932);
• Greece: I Apachides ton Athinon (The Apaches of Athens), a Dag Films musical, directed by Dimitrios Gaziadis;
• Italy: La Canzone dell’ Amore, directed by Genarro Righelli;
• Poland: The Morals of Madame Dulska, directed by B Newolyn;
• Switzerland: Bünzli’s Grossstadtabenteur, directed by Robert Wohlmut.
• USSR: The Earth Thirsts, directed by Yuli Raizman.
 
•  First film made in Iran: Abi va Rabi, directed by Ovanes Ohahian.  
•  First film society in India, Punjab Cinema Art Society, is founded in Lahore.  
•  India nationalises private radio broadcasters to create the Indian Broadcasting Service. > 1936
•  NHK Science and Technical Research Laboratories established in Japan.  
•  RCA introduces Model PG-30 16mm amateur sound film projector in US.  
•  RCA grants a non-exclusive licence for its sound system to Pathé-Cinéma for France and francophone territories in North Africa.  
•  Baird Television transmissions from Long Acre, London are picked up by amateur enthusiasts in the Mediterranean.  
•  Foundation of BBC National Programme.  
•  Car radios introduced in US. Complete installation weighs 30 kg and can be as big as an adult person. First adopters are taxi drivers, who charge extra for allowing passengers to listen.  
•  V K Zworykin transfers his television experiments to the RCA Laboratories at David Sarnoff’s suggestion.  
•  Bell Telephone Laboratories in the US demonstrates the principle of 'dummy head' stereo sound recording, simulating the interaural spacing of the human head.  
•  British Actors’ Equity Association (Equity, the performers’ trades union) is founded.  
•  Two French inventors, Couplex and Givelet, invent an electronic organ, using 'radiophonic lamps' (valves) in place of pipes.  
•  Mickey Mouse cartoon strip is first published in the New York Mirror.  
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Page updated 19 February 2009
© David Fisher