The years 1930-1933 were a time of experimentation and change. Sound (in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish) was being added to image by the world's film studios. Motion Picture News warned that foreign-version "talkers" were "the only means of breaking into film markets abroad." Fans around the world made it clear that they were eager to hear movies in their own languages and had little tolerance for sound films in languages other than their own. In an ambitious and risky attempt to dominate the international sound film market, Paramount invested money abroad where great filmmaking talent was at hand. In the process, Paramount rendered an important service to film history: it put together one of the most complete film records of the talent of an era ever assembled by an institution in the industry. The company set up a huge studio complex in Joinville, near Paris. Robert T. Kane, an experienced Paramount executive, filled the Paris studios with an unprecedented collection of talent and captured on film an era that is now long gone. Waldman offers a look at the 300 films Paramount produced in Paris and the filmmakers who loaned their genius to an effort that has been unjustly overlooked by film historians.
Harry Waldman is the author of several books, includingScenes Unseen (1991), Beyond Hollywood's Grasp (Scarecrow, 1994), and Hollywood and the Foreign Touch: A Dictionary of Foreign Filmmakers and Their Films from America, 1910-1995 (Scarecrow, 1996).