These are the first words ever heard in a feature film

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For those who haven’t tuned in yet the NYT’s “1619” podcast has an episode on just how deeply American musical tradition is intertwined with minstrel (it’s the third episode: “The Birth of American Music.”)


Not quite.

The premiere engagement of the sound version of Dream Street took place on May 2, 1921 at Town Hall in New York City with Griffith’s introduction. On May 15, the film reopened, now also with two other short sound sequences — Ralph Graves singing a love song, and background noise in a scene showing a craps game.


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tap…tap…tap… HEY IS THIS THING ON? CAN YOU HEAR BACK THERE? tap…tap…tap.

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Uh, the internet contains bizarre things. One bizarre thing I did not expect to find is Doris Day, in blackface, singing “Toot, Toot, Tootsie” in I’ll See You In My Dreams (1951) – a biopic about Gus Kahn, the co-author of the 1922 song.

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My first exposure to blackface was seeing this on TV as a kid during my Saturday morning cartoons.

I didn’t have the context to understand what it was at the time but in retrospect it’s pretty horrifying that they were still putting that shit in the middle of children’s programming in the 1980s.

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The innovation that defined the 20th Century.
Where would we be in 2020 without talking pictures?

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