Dubbing in the early 1930s: An improbable policy
Dubbing in the early 1930s: An improbable policy
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter uses the case of dubbing practices in the early 1930s to consider the possibility that the impact of screen translation techniques on film aesthetics is more significant than has been recognised. The focus is on Hollywood’s unexpected adoption in 1931 of voice dubbing as its principal means of preparing films for the main foreign markets. Hollywood’s reliance on dubbing is contrasted with practices in the German film industry, its main rival for the world film market, where films for export were prepared in foreign-language versions rather than dubbed. Dubbing involved more than voice replacement to affect motion picture style in various ways. Trade press documentation is used to suggest that the dubbed American films of 1931 typically featured less speech; fewer close-ups of speaking actors; more reaction shots in dialogue scenes; more cuts overall; framings and props that concealed rather than displayed the actors’ moving lips; and other stylistic quirks.
THE EARLY 1930S ARE SEEN AS a key moment in the history of audiovisual translation policy, when the Hollywood studios adopted voice dubbing as the principal means of preparing films for the main foreign markets.1 The switch to dubbing surprised observers of the film industry at the time. It could not have been predicted in 1930, when ‘dubbing, i.e., the device of lip movement to create the impression that a foreign language is being spoken’ was widely seen as a ‘failure’.2 In the course of the 1930–1 film season, however, the Hollywood studios, led by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Paramount, largely stopped making separate foreign-language films, with their own foreign-language casts, and instead began adding dubbed voices to American films.
The novelty of Hollywood’s policy change becomes evident when contrasted with practices in the European film industries. The most important was the German industry, Hollywood’s main rival in the early 1930s for the world film market. Dubbing was also practised in Germany, and German companies, in fact, held important patents on dubbing-related technologies.3 But the reliance on dubbing as the main means of preparing films for foreign distribution was unique to Hollywood. The German film industry continued (p.178) to depend on foreign-language versions years after Hollywood had phased them out.
Dubbed films: an unexpected development
In 1930 few in the film trade press spoke in defence of dubbed films. The survey of opinions reported in Variety in April 1930, when executives at Warner Brothers, Fox, and Loew’s agreed that ‘dubbed dialogue is dead’, is typical.4 In the transatlantic film world in 1930, films for the major foreign-language markets, it was understood, ought to be produced in the language of the target market, with actors who were native speakers. Screenwriter Heinrich Fraenkel offered the following summary in January 1931:
Nowadays, if a producer wishes to cater to another big market, he has to produce in that market’s language. He has to hire a director, a writer, a cast, a whole national unit of the other market, and he has to invest in a production which he can use there and there only.5
For the Hollywood companies, this ordinarily meant importing European or Latin American actors to make full-length foreign-language copies of domestic productions, using the same sets, scenarios, songs, and technical personnel.6 The avoidance of dubbing was recommended by no less an authority than the US Department of Commerce, which drew on research into film audiences gathered at US embassies worldwide to argue that dubbing was viable for the Hollywood studios only for markets where there were too few theatres to justify the making of separate foreign-language films.7
Nonetheless, at the top American studios a radical policy change was underway. In February 1931, MGM, after months of effort to improve dubbing techniques, announced that it had cancelled contracts for 75 actors, scenarists, and directors whose principal jobs involved foreign-version production; from now on, films for foreign release were to be dubbed.8 Confirmation of the wisdom of the new policy came in the summer of 1931 when dubbed films from MGM and Paramount began circulating in Europe, (p.179) where they did far better than had been expected. A country-by-country survey conducted at the end of the year by the US Department of Commerce noted the success of dubbed American films in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Romania, Yugoslavia, and other countries.9 Most remarkable was the situation in France, a famously difficult market for sound films.10 Certain of the new dubbed versions — such as Désemparé and La Pente, editions of Paramount’s Derelict (Rowland Lee, 1930) and MGM’s Dance, Fools, Dance (Harry Beaumont, 1931), respectively — drew appreciative audiences.11 Critics praised the lip synchronisation specifically: ‘The spectators who saw the film Désemparé could tell that … it is extremely difficult to distinguish it from an original version in which the actor speaks his own language.’12 Though synchronisation defects would persist in dubbed films, the new productions marked a significant improvement in technique.13
By the end of 1931, other studios had joined MGM and Paramount in relying on dubbing, in one form or another, as the main method for preparing films for export to countries where French, German, and Spanish were spoken.14 Indicative of the policy change were practices at the Paramount studio complex in Saint-Maurice–Joinville outside Paris, which had opened in 1930 to make foreign-language shorts and features but was increasingly inserting dubbed voices into films shot in the United States.15 By 1933, the Joinville studio functioned almost exclusively as a dubbing facility.16At that point, dubbing was sufficiently accepted by European audiences that critics no longer felt compelled to comment on whether a film had been dubbed. The New York Times reported apropos of the reception of dubbed American films in Germany that ‘the technique of synchronization has improved about 2,000 percent and audiences have gotten used to American lip movements. The (p.180) critics do not even mention it in their reviews unless it happens to be particularly ineffective, which is seldom the case today.’17
Dubbing’s current status as a widely accepted screen translation practice makes it easy to forget how controversial it was in 1930 when MGM and Paramount began standardising it. Dubbing amounted to a form of voice replacement, which antagonised critics and audiences to a degree that made Hollywood producers wary. ‘The talking picture in the foreign market has quite enough to contend with apart from the entirely intense feeling which may easily be worked up against the practice of dubbing,’ stated the publisher of Exhibitors Herald World in the summer of 1930.18 The act of replacing one actor’s voice with another’s, whether involving a foreign language or not, seemed morally offensive, as is suggested in the use of terms like ‘faking’ and ‘duping’ to describe it.19 Voice-substitution disclosures, it was alleged, were alienating audiences from sound movies.20 Fan outrage followed revelations in 1929 that the vocal performances of certain stars had been created via voice transfer.21 The sheet music for Weary River (Frank Lloyd, 1929), for instance, refers to the theme song ‘as sung by Richard Barthelmess’ when, in fact, a playback artist had provided the voice.22 A similar controversy surfaced in England apropos of Anny Ondra’s voice in Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail (1929), which, it turned out, had been supplied, uncredited, by Joan Barry. Responding to critics, representatives of British International Pictures protested: ‘Hollywood used to double hands, legs, and even whole bodies, and never gave screen credit to doubles — so why the squawking on voices.’23 In fact, it was hard to see the act of grafting one actor’s voice onto another’s body as an ordinary, ethically neutral production technique. Voice substitution seemed somehow improper or even sinful, a point captured in a famous remark by Jean Renoir: ‘If we were living in the twelfth century … practitioners of dubbing would be burnt in the public square for heresy.’24 That instances of voice replacement continue to invite opprobrium points to the magnitude of the change in thinking needed in the early 1930s for dubbing’s emergence as the dominant screen translation technique.
Essential to the institutionalisation of dubbing was the mechanisation of the procedure so that virtually any set of actors and technicians could perform the task. Prior to 1931, successful experiments in dubbing were ad hoc endeavours requiring painstaking effort. A dubbed film was cheaper to produce than a full-length foreign-language version, but the process was more difficult and took longer. In September 1930, the making of a foreign-language version was said to require 14 days whereas a dubbed Hollywood film of passable quality needed ‘up to eight weeks and sometimes longer’.25 It could be spread over three months or more, as in the cases of Dance, Fools, Dance and Lloyd Bacon’s Forty-second Street (Lloyd Bacon, 1933); the French dubbing for Grand Hotel (Edmund Goulding, 1932) took four and a half months.26
A further barrier was the practice by producers of undertaking the work in the United States, which became intolerable when, in 1932, France and Germany, followed in 1933 by Italy, passed laws mandating that all voice dubbing be performed in domestic studios.27 The execution of the dubbing in the countries where the films were to be distributed spurred the development of a variety of dubbing tools and methods. Essential to the dissemination of dubbing technique in Europe were multi-screen players such as Carl Robert Blum’s Rhythmograph in Germany and Charles Delacommune’s Ciné-Pupitre in France. The key technical attribute of these systems was the synching up to a film projector of a strip displaying the translated dialogue on a second screen, in a manner anticipating the ‘teleprompters’ used in present-day television production.28 For a dubbing session involving the Ciné-Pupitre, used by the Synchro-Ciné company, for example, the voice actors assigned to the scene gathered together in the studio and took turns reading lines from a rolling script that unfolded simultaneously with the film image: ‘Projected on the upper portion of the screen are the images of the foreign film and on the lower portion the text that the actors must speak. A color is reserved for each (p.182) actor; the phrases that they must say underlined in blue or red, or green, according to their role.’29 The voice actors tried to articulate the text so that the duration of their speech matched exactly the on-screen lip movement.
An alternative means of matching voice and image was reported in studios in the United States, where the practice of screening the film during the recording of the dubbed voices was dispensed with. Instead the voice actors read from a script while wearing headsets, listening to the original soundtrack while uttering the translation provided in the script.30 The voice actors did not view the screened image while performing the dubbing; in fact, doing so risked distracting from the timing of the speech, which was needed to achieve the primary goal of lip synchronisation. In any case, script-based methods, whether involving the projection of the moving image or not, freed the voice actors from the need to memorise dialogue, and thus shortened the time needed for the dubbing process.
Possible effects of dubbing on film style
The adoption of dubbing as the principal method of preparing Hollywood films for export coincided with a major sound-film technological change: the introduction in 1931 throughout the Hollywood studios of technologies for ‘noiseless’ multi-track recording and mixing, which enabled the blending of dialogue with music and myriad additional editing-related aesthetic innovations.31 The industry-wide deployment of multi-track sound provided the essential condition for what James Lastra identifies as a pivotal development in the history of film sound, when the emphasis in Hollywood shifted away from a sound’s fidelity to its source and towards its intelligibility as representation.32 The emergence of this transformed understanding of film sound thus coincided with the standardisation of dubbing technique, which likewise depended on the aesthetic possibilities opened up by the new multi-track technologies.
(p.183) The remainder of this chapter considers the possible causal connections between the institutionalisation of dubbing as Hollywood’s principal export technique and coincident developments in sound-film aesthetics. Luis Pérez-González, in his 2014 book on audiovisual translation, proposes that in the early 1930s, ‘for the first time in the history of film, representational advances were being driven by the need to articulate new strategies to translate dialogue’.33 Did Hollywood’s switch to dubbing condition the development of sound-film technique more generally? The answers sketched out here are tentative. Dubbed films from the period are difficult to find, and until more are discovered and made available, it is difficult to assess dubbing’s stylistic effects. The remarks offered below draw on a survey of dubbing-related commentary in the film trade press of the period, which has been informed by my analysis of the one dubbed film of the period that I have been able to examine carefully: Le Chant du Danube, the French version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Waltzes from Vienna. Hitchcock’s film was released in the UK in March 1933 and then a year later remade in France in a dubbed version at Jacques Haïk’s studio. In a comparative analysis of the two versions, I identify several stylistic peculiarities in Le Chant du Danube, which include: the practice of contriving the shot compositions to conceal the actor’s moving lips; the preference for reaction shots in dialogue scenes; and the truncation of scenes in the dubbed version, which involves the inclusion of jump cuts.34 In what follows, the trade press provides evidence suggesting that the stylistic peculiarities evident in Le Chant du Danube are likely to be found in other dubbed films of the early 1930s.
Shot composition and framing
The main aesthetic consequence of the institutionalisation of dubbing concerned shot composition. To minimise defects in lip synchronisation, film-makers restricted the amount of dialogue to the minimum needed for story comprehension, and they devised shot compositions that proved easy to dub, which was achieved when actors were filmed from the side or from behind so as to conceal their moving lips.35 Referring to MGM’s plans for the production of dubbed versions, a journalist noted in August 1930 that the studio’s (p.184) policy was that ‘long and medium shots will be tricked so that at no time will the lip movement be discernible’.36 In April 1931, screenwriter Yvan Noé detected in the latest dubbed films from the United States a tendency to replace close-ups with ‘distant framings with a grand mise-en-scène where the actor’s lips are not visible’.37 A report on Fritz Lang’s M (1931) explains that Lang, anticipating demand for the film in English-speaking countries, took extra measures in preparing a dubbed edition, which included the shooting of special scenes in which ‘the characters in speaking sometimes hid the movements of their lips, either by lighting a cigar or by turning their heads’.38
The effort to achieve lip synchronisation in close-ups, where flaws proved difficult for audiences not to detect, posed special challenges.39 One option was to eschew close-ups altogether, at least for the dubbed version. Such was the case with Lang, who was said to have ‘avoided close-ups of actors talking’ in the making of the English version of M to obviate dubbing-related difficulties.40 When close-ups were used in a dubbed film, they were set aside for special treatment, which included, in some cases, exceptional preparation during shooting.41 At MGM, Universal, and other studios, the close-ups used for the dubbed versions were scripted differently, with ‘the players [required to] learn their lines in the foreign tongue and recite them while being photographed’.42 The players were not required to understand the language they had been asked to speak.43 The dramatic inadequacy of the recorded voices (p.185) was irrelevant because ultimately they were replaced by the voices of actors who were native speakers; the recording’s only function was to give the voice actors a sonic and visual template conducive to lip synchronisation.
A further way of keeping the viewer’s gaze off the speaking actor’s lips was to add reaction shots into conversation scenes. In May 1931, with the release in Europe of the first wave of dubbed Hollywood movies, a critic in France noted that American filmmakers were increasingly acting on the understanding that ‘one can, while one hears an actor speak, show not this actor but his partner who listens, and whose reactions are necessarily mute’.44 The same inclination was noted in January 1931 by Heinrich Fraenkel with respect to dubbing practice in Hollywood at ‘some studios, especially MGM’:
‘With a close-up, en face or even profile, it is hardly ever possible to give an adequate translation of subtle dialogue, so that it also fits the lip movements; but, a difficulty like this can be surmounted, by clever cutting of ‘reaction shots’ showing the close-up of the party spoken to, with the lips speaking the difficult lines, invisible.45
The recourse to reaction shots entailed an adjustment in the construction of dialogue scenes, where the common practice had been to cut away from a speaking actor only once the actor had finished speaking. The motivation was to ensure that the viewer regarded the sound as originating from the film’s story-world rather than from a loudspeaker behind the motion picture screen. The old policy was described by cinematographer Michel Kelber, who claimed that producers at the Paramount studio in France had required the visualisation of a speaking actor’s face: ‘[W]e were always supposed to show the actors from the front — not in profile; not from the back — because the management wanted to show the public how the sound was perfectly synched with the lip movement.’46 Such a practice, critics complained, served to subordinate a film’s editing to the rhythm of the dialogue.47
The situation changed in 1931, when the standardisation of multi-track sound made it easy for filmmakers to cut away from speaking actors to show (p.186) another actor’s reaction. Cutaways to reaction shots were perhaps especially prevalent in dubbed versions. A critic in France noted apropos of the dubbed editions of Universal’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (Robert Florey, 1932) and The Mummy (Karl Freund, 1932) that ‘[i]n these two films, close-ups have been avoided in the French re-edited versions, and often one hears characters speak without seeing them, which makes it unnecessary to attend to the lip movement, and allows for the crafting of a more intelligent dialogue’.48
A further peculiarity of dubbed films was the jump cut that resulted from editing decisions intended to ensure lip synchronisation. Regardless of the care taken in the recording of the dubbed voices, mismatches between voice and image persisted. To compensate, individual frames were added in or taken out so that the lip movement matched exactly the duration of the dubbed dialogue. ‘Gaps in timing are corrected by the insertion of a proper number of frames. If the player takes nine frames to pronounce a word and the actual speaker takes eleven, two extra frames are spliced in,’ explained a journalist.49 The extraction of frames became the normal procedure in European dubbing studios in the early 1930s, judging from references to the practice in the contemporary press. Examples include a newspaper report on operations in 1932 at an unidentified Paris dubbing studio, where the activity of ‘dubbing’ was said to transform the editor (le monteur) into a sound cutter (coupeur de son):
A delicate operation. The sound cutter holds in her/his hand the result of the dubbing, which reveals a slight imperfection. One of the dubbing actors has spoken for too long, causing a few millimeters too much on the track. The technicians take notice while the dubbed footage is projected: the editor then cuts, trims, and tricks, matching with precision the recorded voices with the lip movements of the actors.50
(p.187) As this testimony suggests, the procedure of dubbing might involve cutting into not only the image track but the dialogue track, too, as when cuts served to reduce the duration of the silence between lines of speech.51
An article in the German daily Film-Kurier describes a research project which found that in the typical case some 2,500 ‘critical frames’ (kritischen Stellen) had to be cut out of or added into a dubbed feature film in order to achieve a convincing lip synchronisation.52 For an experiment at the American company RCA, Variety reported that some 16,000 frames were shifted in the dubbing of a single film.53 At the sound-era projection speed of 24 frames per second, this works out to more than 11 minutes of screen time. The removal and insertion of frames entailed the presence in dubbed films of jump cuts. In my analysis of Le Chant du Danube, I detected six obvious dubbing-related jump cuts, which in some cases decreased the length of the shot by half or more.54 From a continuity standpoint, the visual skips created by excisions in the image track were more tolerable — less distracting from the film’s story — than the alternative: a voice unmatched to the actor’s lip movement.
The presence of jump cuts may help explain why the dubbed versions of films are often shorter than the originals. Le Chant du Danube, for example, a heavily edited film, runs around two-thirds the length of Waltzes from Vienna. In this case, however, the motivation for the shrinkage went beyond lip synchronisation to include modification of the film’s narrative, with the role of the ingénue played by Jesse Matthews (a bigger star in England at the time than in France, it seems) trimmed in favour of the father–son drama between Johann Strauss Junior and Senior, played by Esmond Knight and Edmund Gwenn, respectively. The change in story structure was effected through not only the excision of bits of shots but the removal of entire scenes and the re-ordering of others.55
Whether story editing of this magnitude is to be seen as common practice in the early 1930s for the making of dubbed versions will require comparing additional dubbed versions, if they still exist, to the originals. Assuming that dubbed versions can be located, further comparative analysis might also help answer an additional question. Did producers begin designing their films in ways that facilitated the making of dubbed versions, opting in the original versions for less speech; fewer close-ups of speaking actors; more reaction shots in dialogue scenes; more cuts overall; and framings and props that (p.188) concealed rather than displayed the actors’ moving lips? Or were the dubbing-related quirks discussed in this chapter characteristic only of the dubbed versions?
Hollywood’s adoption of dubbing
Whether causation or correlation is at issue, the industry-wide acceptance of dubbing as the main translation technique and the standardisation of multi-track sound first happened in American rather than European cinema. A case in point concerns the German film industry, Hollywood’s main rival in the early 1930s for the European film market. Dubbing technologies were used in Germany for the dubbing of American films, including those destined for the French market, and German producers did sometimes dub their export films, as advertisements in the German trade press indicate.56 By and large, however, the German filmmakers relied on foreign-language versions. Joseph Garncarz reports that foreign versions made up to 40 per cent of the German film industry’s total output in the early 1930s.57 Chris Wahl claims that foreign versions comprised 50 per cent of Ufa’s output during the period from 1931 to 1935.58 Jean-François Cornu cites an advertisement from Ufa that appeared on the cover of La Cinématographie française in April 1932, which includes the promise: ‘A French talking film from Ufa is never a dubbed film!’59
Why was dubbing undertaken systematically first in Hollywood rather than in European cinema? One factor would seem to be the novelty of Hollywood’s massive investment in the promotion of stars, which went beyond anything undertaken in the film industries in Europe.60 The multiple-version strategy was problematic for the Hollywood companies because, as explained in Variety, it prevented them from ‘cash[ing] in on the already (p.189) established b[ox] o[ffice] power of the former English-speaking silent stars’.61 European audiences were said to want not films with native-language actors but ‘the old-time well-made “movie” with box-office names’.62 For audiences in countries where languages other than English were spoken, Joan Crawford dubbed was better than Crawford entirely replaced, body and voice, by a foreign-language actor with no Hollywood star power.63 It is no surprise that the studio concerned to improve dubbing technique ‘to almost uncanny perfection’ was MGM, the so-called home of the stars.64 An explanation for Hollywood’s adoption of dubbing may need go no further than the star system: Hollywood took the plunge with dubbing because it depended on stars to sell films. Signalling the priority of this dependency was dubbing’s institutionalisation in the early 1930s, which occurred in a short time despite strong prejudices in the transatlantic film community against practices of voice replacement.
(1) See, for example, Carol O’Sullivan, ‘Imagined Spectators: The Importance of Policy for Audiovisual Translation Research’, Target, 28.2 (2016), 265–7; and Luis Pérez-Gonzalez, Audiovisual Translation: Theories, Methods and Issues (London and New York, Routledge, 2014), pp. 35–49.
(2) Martin Quigley, ‘Dubbing’, Exhibitors Herald World, 100.1 (5 July 1930), 16. See also ‘Shining Glitter Gone from Sound’, Motion Picture News, 42.17 (25 October 1930), 41; Cedric Belfrage, ‘Hollywood’s Multi-lingual Quandary: Different Dialects Present Difficulty’, The Bioscope, 82.1,218 (5 February 1930), 20; and C. J. North and N. D. Golden, ‘Sound Film Competition Abroad’, Journal of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, 15.6 (December 1930), 757.
(3) Michael Wedel, ‘Vom Synchronismus zur Synchronisation: Carl Robert Blum und der frühe Tonfilm’, in Joachin Polzer (ed.), Aufstieg und Untergang des Tonfilms: Die Zukunft des Kinos (Potsdam, Polzer Media Group, 2001), pp. 97–112.
(4) ‘Europe Off “Dubbed” Film’, Variety, 98.13 (9 April 1930), 7.
(5) Heinrich Fraenkel, ‘Can Industry Stay International? The Multilingual Problem and What to Do about It’, Motion Picture Herald, 102.5 (31 January 1931), 64.
(6) For a survey of American multiple version practice, see Ginette Vincendeau, ‘Hollywood Babel: The Coming of Sound and the Multiple-language Version’, in Andrew Higson and Richard Maltby (eds), ‘Film Europe’ and ‘Film America’: Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1920–1939 (Exeter, University of Exeter Press, 1999), pp. 207–24.
(7) ‘Shining Glitter Gone from Sound’, Motion Picture News, 42.17 (25 October 1930), 41.
(8) ‘M-G Off Dubbing’, Variety, 98.3 (29 January 1930), 4; and ‘Hollywood stoppt die Versionen’, Film-Kurier, 13.40 (17 February 1931), 1.
(9) See ‘The Motion Picture Industry in Continental Europe in 1931’, Trade Information Bulletin, 797 (1932), 9–11, 14, 37–8, 47, 58, 73.
(10) See René Lehmann, ‘À propos du “dubbing”’, Pour Vous, 133 (4 June 1931), 2; and Jean Morienval, ‘Le Doublage, ses nécessités et ses limites’, Le Cinéopse, 14.152 (1932), 158.
(11) See Pierre Autré, ‘Attention au Dubbing!’, La Cinématographie française, 14.691 (31 January 1932), 22; and John Campbell, ‘Cinema in the French Capital’, New York Times (10 January 1932), X5.
(12) L. M., ‘Il faut mettre au point la question du “dubbing”’, Pour Vous, 129 (1931), 2 (‘Les spectateurs qui ont vu le film Désemparé ont pu constater que la superposition est bien faite et qu’il est extrêmement difficile de la distinguer d’une version originale où l’acteur parle sa langue.’) Unless stated otherwise, all translations from French film magazines are mine.
(13) See Pierre Autré, ‘Le Dubbing dans La Pente’, La Cinématographie française, 13.686 (26 December 1931), iii.
(14) See ‘Die Versionen Radio Pictures geben auf’, Film-Kurier, 13.147 (26 June 1931), 2.
(15) Jean Valmont, ‘Jacob Karol nous parle des avantages du “dubbing”’, Comoedia, 25.6,735 (29 June 1931), 6.
(16) See Harry Waldman, Paramount in Paris: 300 Films Produced at the Joinville Studios, 1930–1933 (Lanham, MD, Scarecrow, 1998), p. xii.
(17) C. Hooper Trask, ‘On Berlin’s Screens’, New York Times (5 February 1933), X4.
(19) See Nataša Ďurovičová, ‘Local Ghosts: Dubbing Bodies in Early Sound Cinema’, in Anna Antonini (ed.), Il film e i suoi multipli / Film and Its Multiples (Udine, Forum, 2003), pp. 86–7.
(20) ‘Exposure of Talker-making by Film Fan Mags’, Variety, 95.7 (29 May 1929), 17.
(21) Mark Larkin, ‘The Truth about Voice Doubling’, Photoplay, 36.2 (July 1929), 32–3, 108–10.
(22) Muriel Babcock, ‘Song Doubling Now in Discard’, Los Angeles Times (14 July 1929), B13.
(23) Quoted in ‘Ghosting and Doubling in Talker Publicity’, Variety, 96.1 (17 July 1929), 2.
(24) Jean Renoir, My Life and My Films, trans. Norman Denny (New York, Atheneum, 1974), p. 106; originally published as Jean Renoir, Ma vie et mes films (Paris, Flammarion, 1974), p. 97 (‘Si nous vivions au xiie siècle … les sectateurs [promoters] du doublage seraient brûlés en place publique pour hérésie.’).
(25) ‘Dubbing Tough Routine, but Cheaper’, Variety, 100.8 (3 September 1930), 6.
(26) Jean-François Cornu, Le Doublage et le sous-titrage : histoire et esthétique (Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2014), pp. 50–3, 106–8, 131.
(27) See Georges Clarrière, ‘U.S. Dubbing Progress Worries France’, The Bioscope, 90.1,326 (2 November 1932), 12; Arnaldo Cortesi, ‘Italian Film Edict Hits Our Industry’, New York Times (15 October 1933), E3; and Carla Mereu Keating, ‘“100% Italian”: The Coming of Sound in Italy and State Regulation on Dubbing’, California Italian Studies, 4.1 (2013), 19–20.
(28) A contemporary description of the Rhythmograph can be found in Stéphane Manier, ‘Bandes tricolores, synchrones et coupeurs de son’, Paris-soir (2 January 1933). Regarding Delacommune’s Ciné-Pupitre, see ‘Une révolution dans la technique du film sonore’, Le Cinéopse, 13.141 (May 1931), 247. Illustrations of the bands displaying the translated texts can be found in Roger Turpin, ‘Le Doublage des films’, La Technique cinématographique, 7–68 (August 1936), 715–16.
(29) Louis Saurel, ‘La Question du doublage’, La Cinématographie française, 14.712 (25 June 1932), 65 (‘On projette sur la partie supérieure d’un écran les images du film étranger et sur la partie inférieure le texte que devront dire les acteurs. Une couleur est réservée à chacun d’eux ; les phrases qu’ils doivent dire ont été soulignées d’un trait bleu ou rouge, ou vert, selon leur rôle.’).
(30) See ‘Les Nouvelles Méthodes américaines de “dubbing”’, La Cinématographie française, 13.655 (23 May 1931), 14.
(31) See Lea Jacobs, ‘The Innovation of Re-recording in the Hollywood Studios’, Film History, 24.1 (2012), 5–34.
(32) James Lastra, Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity (New York, Columbia University Press, 2000), pp. 180–215.
(34) Charles O’Brien, ‘The “Cinematisation” of Sound Cinema in Britain: The Dubbing into French of Hitchcock’s Waltzes from Vienna’, in Lucy Mazdon and Catherine Wheatley (eds), Je t’aime … moi non plus: Anglo-French Cinematic Relations (New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2010), pp. 37–49.
(35) See Martine Danan, ‘À la recherche d’une stratégie internationale : Hollywood et le marché français des années trente’, in Yves Gambier (ed.), Les Transferts linguistiques dans les médias audiovisuels (Villeneuve d’Ascq, Presses universitaires du Septentrion, 1996), pp. 125–7.
(36) ‘Dubbing’s Comeback on Coast: Sound Men Assure Results as Desired’, Variety, 100.4 (6 August 1930), 4.
(37) Yvan Noé, ‘La Synchronisation des films français en Amérique’, Comoedia, 25.1,171 (17 April 1931), 6 (‘des plans lointains de grande mise en scène où le mouvement des lèvres des comédiens n’est pas visible. Ces plans représentent environ un tiers du film.’).
(38) Mordaunt Hall, ‘Clever Dubbing’, New York Times (16 April 1931), X3. Further information on the dubbed versions of M, which included a French version, can be found in Anna Sofia Rossholm,Reproducing Languages, Translating Bodies: Approaches to Speech, Translation and Cultural Identity in Early European Sound Film (Stockholm, Almqvist & Wiksell International, 2006), pp. 117–19. For an in-depth study on the French version, see François Albera, Claire Angelini, and Martin Barnier, ‘M / Le Maudit, ses doubles et son doublage’, Décadrages, 23–4 (Spring 2013), 80–113, also published in German as François Albera, Claire Angelini, and Martin Barnier, ‘M / Le Maudit, Doppelgänger und Dubbing’, trans. Nathalie Mälzer, in Alain Boillat and Irene Weber Henking (eds), Dubbing: Die Übersetzung im Kino —La Traduction audiovisuelle (Marburg, Schüren, 2014), pp. 65–114.
(39) See J. P. Maxfield, ‘Technique of Recording Control for Sound Pictures’, in Hal Hall (ed.), Cinematographic Annual 1930 (New York, Arno Press and New York Times, 1972), p. 422.
(41) William Stull, ‘New System for Foreign Translations’, American Cinematographer, 14.10 (February 1934), 400–1.
(42) ‘Dubbing’s Comeback on Coast: Sound Men Assure Results as Desired’.
(43) See the discussion of early sound-era dubbing practices in Tessa Dwyer, ‘Mute, Dumb, Dubbed: Lulu’s Silent Talkies’, in Lieven D’hulst, Carol O’Sullivan, and Michael Schreiber (eds), Politics, Policy and Power in Translation History (Berlin, Frank & Timme, 2016), pp. 157–86 at 163–5.
(44) Jean Morienval, ‘Films français synchronisés U. S. A.’, Le Cinéopse, 13.141 (May 1931), 224 (‘On peut, par exemple, tandis qu’on entend un artiste parler, montrer non pas cet artiste, mais son partenaire qui écoute, et dont les jeux de physionomie sont nécessairement muets.’).
(45) Fraenkel, ‘Can Industry Stay International?’
(46) Michel Kelber, ‘From Vigo to the New Wave, A Cameraman’s Career’, in John Boorman and Walter Donohue (eds), Projections 6 (London, Faber & Faber, 1996), p. 232.
(47) Arthur Hoerée, ‘Essai d’esthétique du sonore’, La Revue musicale, 151 (December 1934), 52.
(48) Autré, ‘Attention au Dubbing!’ (‘On a, dans ces deux films, évité dans le montage français les premiers plans et souvent on entend les personnages parler, sans les voir, ce qui permet de ne pas s’occuper du repérage du mouvement des lèvres et de composer un dialogue plus intelligent.’).
(49) ‘Scientific Dubbing’, The Bioscope, 84.1,240 (9 July 1930), i.
(50) Manier, ‘Bandes tricolores, synchrones et coupeurs de son’ (‘Le “dubbing” transforme le monteur en coupeur de son. Opération délicate. Le coupeur de son tient en main le résultat du doublage. Il s’est produit une petite imperfection. Un doubleur a parlé trop longtemps, “quelques millimètres de trop sur la bande”. On s’en est rendu compte en projetant le film doublé : le monteur coupe, rogne, triche, accorde avec précision les voix enregistrées au mouvement des lèvres des interprètes.’).
(51) The possibility of reducing the length of the dialogue track is discussed in Noé, ‘La Synchronisation des films français en Amérique’.
(52) ‘Nachsynchronisierung’, Film-Kurier, 13.184 (8 August 1931), 13.
(53) ‘Patented “Dubbing” Device Makes Foreign Films 100% Synchronized’, Variety, 99.9 (11 June 1930), 4.
(56) See the advertisement for Blum’s ‘Rhythmographie’ system in Film Kurier, 14.1 (1 January 1931), 19.
(57) Joseph Garncarz, ‘Made in Germany: Multiple-language Versions and Early German Sound Cinema’, in Higson and Maltby (eds), ‘Film Europe’ and ‘Film America’, pp. 249–73.
(58) Chris Wahl, Sprachversionsfilme aus Babelsberg: Die internationale Strategie der Ufa 1929–1939 (Munich, Richard Boorberg Verlag, 2009), p. 185; also available in English as Chris Wahl, Multiple Language Versions Made in Babelsberg: Ufa’s International Strategy, 1929–1939, trans. Steve Wilder (Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2016), p. 132.
(60) On the distinctiveness of stardom in European cinema, see Joseph Garncarz, ‘The Star System in Weimar Cinema’, in Christian Rogowski (ed.), The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema: Rediscovering Germany’s Filmic Legacy (Rochester, NY, Camden House, 2010), pp. 116–33.
(61) ‘Dubbing Tough Routine but Cheaper’. Further commentary on the threat that sound had posed to Hollywood’s investment in stars can be found in [Maurice?] Kann, ‘Foreign Troubles Mean Domestic Troubles, Too’, Motion Picture News, 41.24 (14 June 1930), 52.
(63) ‘La Margarine peut-elle remplacer le beurre?’, La Cinématographie française, 13.658 (13 June 1931), 11. The example of Crawford is taken up in Jean Fayard, ‘Le Doublage’, Candide (19 May 1932).