Film/television speech patterns from the 1920s to 1960s

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by The Good, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    Los Angeles
    Growing up around old Hollywood it seems to me that many posters have got this right. Elocution coaches (and classes in school ... my aunt taught elocution in high schools), the theater training of the day some of which was stylized some practical ... they had to be heard clearly in the back rows, and then there was the primitive microphones, amplifiers and optical sound tracks of the day ... all were slower in response and had a more limited frequency range than we do today.

    There still is the mystery of why almost every singer sounds like a southern Californian when they sing, no matter what their native accent. It's sort of like we are the final average of what the English language sounds like. Or maybe it has something to do with Hollywood!
     
  2. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

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    Location:
    Philly
    I think this is still part of the backswing against the elocution coaches and artificial diction that many actors used for a long time. I find that most people mumble and slur far to much to be understood on stage or screen.
     
  3. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec One Too Many

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    Location:
    Los Angeles
    We can probably thank Brando. Though his "natural style" looks quite affected today or even beside the best of someone like Robert Mitchum.
     
  4. Sam Craig

    Sam Craig One Too Many

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    1,356
    Location:
    Great Bend, Kansas
    If you want a taste for the affectation of the 40s, check out "The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer" or "Father was a Fullback" They are both full of the slang and "carriage" of that era
    The Andy Hardy films also, but they are more white bread.
    "She said 'MURDER' she said!"
    "Bless her pointed little head!"
    There's a whole different tone and cadance to the talk.

    Sonorous Sam
     
  5. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    USA
    Burns and Allen are the perfect example of this. Especially the radio show in the late 1930s and 1940s. It's the first thing I noticed. George and Gracie both had a very distinct way of speaking, and George never lost it either. It isn't just enunciating, but a clipped way of speaking--fast, too.

    Other examples:
    His Girl Friday(1940)
    Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn were great at speaking in that distinct way, too.
     
  6. Marla

    Marla A-List Customer

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    Location:
    USA
    [video=youtube_share;ZaATcsrYN9w]http://youtu.be/ZaATcsrYN9w[/video]

    5:50: An utter absence of r's
     
  7. p71towny

    p71towny Familiar Face

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    85
    Location:
    Fort Wayne, IN
    I think of Mr. Wilcox selling Johnsons wax.
     
  8. Fletch

    Fletch I'll Lock Up

    We had a very strongly East Coast centered media machine until well after WW2. Even in Hollywood, all the money and most of the creativity had to have some link to New York. That gave an "eastern" sounding accent prestige.

    Of course "not classy" speech such as Brooklyn, Yankee, etc., was reserved for comic effects, but the soft diphthongs and dropped r's of the New Yawkuh were the default. Listen to Fred Astaire speak in his early movies. He came from Omaha, but his delivery was pure Mid-Atlantic, as befitted a star of two continents. Just catch how he pronounced "dahncing."

    There was also, at that time, much made of the association between New York and Irish immigrant speech. I think A.J. Liebling (no son of the auld sod he) wrote that the quintessential NYC accent of his day owed a lot to County Cork. This went along with the idea that people of Irish descent had naturally good diction, an opinion Milton Cross and Patrick Kelly (NBC announcers for decades) wouldn't have quarreled with. And a Cincinnati mikeman named Robert Brown, an early idol of Red Barber's, spoke in an outright, unapologetic brogue, but with American inflections.

    Thru the '30s, some room was made for the r-dropping cousin of the Eastern voice, the Southern. Robert Trout (North Carolina), Bert Parks (Georgia), Mel Allen and Douglas Edwards (Alabama) caught on with the networks well before you heard many voices with the hard r's or flat vowels of the central states that have been "standard American" speech for most of the TV era.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  9. Dan Rodemsky

    Dan Rodemsky One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    112
    Location:
    Concord, Calif.
    I just had this conversation with my 17 year old son. I was watching an old movie when he commented on their strange speech. I had some of the same responses, Broadway actors, lo-fi sound technology.

    When Sean Connery says "Bond, James Bond" he sounds sophisticated, intelligent. When Tom Hanks says "I'm Forrest, Forrest Gump" he sounds like an idiot.
     

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