The technical crafts of sound in classical Hollywood cinema have, until recently, remained largely `unsung' by histories of the studio era. Yet film sound - voice, music and sound effects - is a crucial aspect of film style and has been key to engaging and holding audiences since the transition to sound by Hollywood's major studios in 1929. This innovative new text restores sound technicians to Hollywood's creative history. Exploring a range of films from the early sound period (1931) through to the late studio period (1948), and drawing on a wide range of archival sources, the book reveals how Hollywood's sound designers worked and why they worked in the ways that they did. The book demonstrates how sound technicians developed conventions designed to tell stories through sound, placing them within the production cultures of studio era filmmaking, and uncovering a history of collective and collaborative creativity. In doing so, it traces the emergence of a body of highly skilled sound personnel, able to apply expert technical knowledge in the science of sound to the creation of cinematic soundscapes that are alive with mood and sensation.
Helen Hanson is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Exeter, UK. Her research focuses on film style, histories of American cinema and the film industry, feminism and popular culture.
Introduction: Sound and Silences: Writing the History of Sound Craft in Hollywood's Studio Era.- 1. Art, Science and Showmanship: The Technical Cultures of Hollywood's Sound Engineers and The Shaping of Film Sound Technologies.- 2. 'Ear Appeal': The 'Story Values' of Sound in the Classical Hollywood Film.- 3. Crafting the Sequence: Sound Work and the Dynamics of Production.- 4. From Gadgeteers to Sound Experts: Defining and Recognising Sound Labour and Expertise.- Conclusion.