Movies during the 1920's

The 1920's was a decade of many major social changes which greatly advance the United States. It is often called the "Roaring Twenties," because of wide prosperity and optimism. Many see life in the 1920's as the beginning of modern America. As the United State's economy rapidly grew, they became known as one of the richest countries in the world. More money brought new technologies, and a much greater appreciation for the arts. One development that arose during the 1920's was movies with synchronized sound which jump started the film industry.

Until the late 1920's, motion pictures were silent except for the musical accompaniment provided by theatre owners through live orchestras. Up to this point, movies had enjoyed a wide degree of popularity, but they still remained a secondary form of entertainment, largely due to their lack of sound (Talking Motion Pictures 1).

All of this changed in 1926 when Warner Brothers introduced a new sound-on-disc system. In this system, sound effects and music were recorded on a wax records that would later be synchronized with the film projector(1). To show off this technology, Warner Brothers released "Don Juan" as the first motion picture to have sound. Although "Don Juan" was a box-office hit, many movie studios still believed that movies with sound would never replace silent films. But the production of The Jazz Singer in 1927 did much to change the industry's perception of movies with sound.

"The Jazz Singer" triggered the talking-picture revolution. Even though "The Jazz Singer" was not the first film to use sound, it proved to be the first one to use spoken dialogue as part of the dramatic action. The combination of Jolson, America's most popular singer, and the new medium of sound helped to produce a profit of $3.5 million, causing Warner Bros. to begin its rule as one of Hollywood's top studios (Scott 1). The huge demand for "The Jazz Singer" was unexpected, and caused other studios to begin to produce sound films of their own to capitalize on what at the time they saw as a fad (1).

The enormous enthusiasm for talking pictures generated record levels of profits for the film industry. Warner Brother's profits increased by 12 million per year. Once movies used sound they became more popular than live concerts or plays. It has been estimated that on average every person in the United States over the age of six went to a film theater once a week during the decade (Salem Press 1). The 1920's represented the era of greatest output in the US movie market. An average of 800 films were produced annually (Scott 1). The rapid growth of the film industry in the United Sates created the Hollywood as we think of it today.

By 1927 Hollywood had become the center of movie-making in the U.S. with 85% of U.S. movie production occurring in or around Hollywood. Good weather and a wide variety of scenic locations were factors in its success. Whole new industries grew in conjunction with the film business including zoos and animal supply companies, costume suppliers, and casting agencies. The creation of movies with sound continues to change the world today.

Movies with sound completely changed the film industry. Movies became the most popular form of entertainment in America. The number of film companies rose, as did there profits. The 1920's was the real start to major film companies, many of which are still around today. Although the movie market peaked in the 1920's, the film industry is still booming today.

Works Cited

"Salem Press." Object Moved. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.

Scott, Robert. "1920's Movies." The 1920's. Web. 28 Apr. 2012.

"Talking Motion Pictures." American Studies The University of Virginia. Web. 28 Apr. 2012


This was something I had to write for English class, so I just decided to post it.