Nowadays, 90 years later, the most neglected period in film history is the transition from silents to talkies. Most people only know anything about this massive upheaval in the film world from the comic spin on it in the 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain, with its portrayal of a squeaky-voiced silent film starlet who wasn’t cut out for talking pictures. Alexander Walker (1930-2003) was a respected and influential Irish-born film critic who wrote for the London Evening Standard from 1960 until his death in 2003. In “The Shattered Silents: How the Talkies Came to Stay,” he has written the definitive text on this poorly remembered era in film history from which most people haven’t seen any of the movies. The book covers the period 1925-1929. The Dalenberg Library copy is the First U.S. Edition from William Morrow and Company, Inc. (New York) from 1979–the book was first published in Great Britain in 1978.
I read this book way back in the early 80’s, and at the time I was frustrated to find any of the movies to watch. Thankfully, that situation has been rectified a bit by Turner Classic Movies, Kino Video, and other outlets in the years since.