• The Speed of Sound

  • Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926 - 1930
  • By: Scott Eyman
  • Narrated by: Adams Morgan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 04-15-09
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • 4 out of 5 stars 4.2 (46 ratings)

Regular price: $23.07

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Publisher's Summary

It was the end of an era. It was a turbulent, colorful, and altogether remarkable period, four short years in which America's most popular industry reinvented itself. Here is the epic story of the transition from silent films to talkies, that moment when movies were totally transformed and the American public cemented its love affair with Hollywood. As Scott Eyman demonstrates in his fascinating account of this exciting era, it was a time when fortunes, careers, and lives were made and lost, when the American film industry came fully into its own.
In this mixture of cultural and social history that is both scholarly and vastly entertaining, Eyman dispels the myths and gives us the missing chapter in the history of Hollywood, the ribbon of dreams by which America conquered the world.
©1997 Scott Eyman (P)1997 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Eyman captures the tenor and the terror of the times....A fascinating account of what Eyman terms 'the destruction of one great art and the creation of another.'" ( Booklist)
"Eyman combines a historian's zeal for detail and context with a storyteller's talent for the perfect illustrative anecdote....A remarkable book that belongs in every film history collection." ( Library Journal)
"Eyman is particularly good at conveying the beauty of the fully developed art that was silent cinema....Eyman tells this story with wit and skill, detailing a surprisingly overlooked but crucial period in Hollywood history." - Kirkus Reviews
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Laura A. Cella on 02-25-16

Great History of Talkies

What made the experience of listening to The Speed of Sound the most enjoyable?

I knew very little about early talkies when I began this book. All I knew was that Jolson's The Jazz Singer was the first talkie (and I was wrong about that). This book is full of well-researched details about the revolution that sound brought to film. Mr. Eyman's prose is precise and full of the kind interesting detail that comes from extensive research.

What other book might you compare The Speed of Sound to and why?

Most of Mr. Eyman's Hollywood books are similar in topic, extent of research, and curiousity about the film ndustry.

Have you listened to any of Adams Morgan’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I do not recall this narrator reading any other books I have read. He has a beautiful voice and enunciates clearly. My only complaint is that he mispronounces some Hollywood names (SH-enk for SK-enk and Wang-ger for Wayne-jer). Unfortunately a lot of narrators of Hollywood books do this.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Mute No More

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4 out of 5 stars
By Colin on 08-31-11

Better than nothing!

This book was a fun read and with a total lack of any film history books available as audio book, it shines. Really enjoyed it and may listen to it again, where else can you here about the early days of Warner Brothers and the history of American Cinema. Great technical facts about early film processes, can't believe they used to sync records to films and thought that was a good idea!

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Ovekat on 04-10-16

Narration Ruins The Story

What would have made The Speed of Sound better?

A slower speaker. this is a very interesting story but the narrative is so fast it is impossible to take the detail in.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Far too fast. May be OK for the American market but far too fast for the UK.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It's a great story but not for audible with that particular narrator.

Any additional comments?

Get an English narrator or an American that speaks more slowly. Remember that on audible we only have the voice to narrate the story!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By oceanjasper on 02-10-18

Flawed but fascinating

This book is a treasure trove of fascinating details about an easily misremembered part of film history. I learned that it was a much more complicated process than just a new technology coming along and old stars quietly fading away.

Whilst I enjoyed this book immensely, it is not without structural flaws, which are amplified by the audio format. In places there is too much detail, as if the author wanted to cram in every bit of his research. And he tends to drop people into the story without sufficient indication of who they are, which may leave some listeners a bit lost unless they already know something about Hollywood history. The events of 1927-1930 are described roughly chronologically, which is probably the best way to go about such a huge topic, but it made for a frustrating experience at times; an interesting plot thread (John Gilbert's first sound films, William Fox's financial gambles) would be dropped at a tantalising point and then suddenly picked up again ages later, by which time I'd forgotten some of the relevant details. There's a lot of jumping from one film project to another, particularly in the latter part of the book, without enough commentary to draw the facts together into an overall narrative.

The author does shine when he analyses the mood and behaviour of the movie industry and the qualities of the films it produced. He describes the key players' acting and directing styles and the features of the finished films with great clarity and elegance. Reading these comments made me start searching out some of those movies so I can see them for myself. By making extensive use of quotes from actors and production staff, Eyman tells the story of the coming of talkies through the people who lived it, which makes it more immediate and engaging.

I liked the narration, which I felt enhanced the audio version of this book. Even though the material is densely detailed, Adams Morgan's delivery is very conversational and expressive, even when relating rather dry technical information. He has excellent diction but also throws in the occasional howling mispronunciation. Unfortunately though (and ironically, given the subject matter) in the last 40 minutes or so there is noticeable sound distortion which makes the narrator's voice become higher in pitch and less distinct.

Overall, though, this book was entertaining, informative and inspiring (so far I can recommend Sunrise and Bulldog Drummond, and check out the astonishing Jeanne Eagles in The Letter!) and I was kind of sad to leave this time period when the book ended. By then I understood not just how the upheaval of talking pictures occurred, but also why it occurred in the way it did, which means that The Speed of Sound succeeds as history.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Ricardo on 02-28-17

technical but fascinating

Hits just the right blend of technical, historical and salatiousness. The reading is pretty good also, his gently stilted lilt suits the period.

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