1927 Timelines: 1920 to 1929

Eastman Kodak begins to aggressively promote the use of its panchromatic negative film stock to movie professionals. The panchromatic film, unlike the older orthochromatic stock, is capable of reproducing proper tonal values across the full visible color spectrum, including red, but until now had been more expensive than the older film stock.


“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences” is founded at the instigation of Louis B. Mayer. Made up of actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers, the Academy soon becomes the studio–approved alternative to a real union.


Louis B. Mayer renews Greta Garbo’s contact. She will be paid a salary of $5,000 per week.


The Federal Trades Commission, after a six–year inquiry, has ordered the Famous Players–Lasky production company to stop the practice of “block booking”. This system requires that a customer rent a predetermined “block” of films, instead of letting the customer pick and choose which films they want to rent.


Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theater opens with the Cecil B. DeMille film, “The King of Kings”.


After being turned down by George Jessel and Eddie Cantor, Warner Bros. hires Al Jolson to star in the first feature film to use synchronized sound for its songs and some of its spoken dialogue sequences. Al Jolson is paid $75,000. Sam Warner dies of a sinus infection just 24 hours before the film’s premier.


Working with Western Electric, William Fox develops his sound–on–film system and calls it “Movietone”. This movie sound system competes directly with the Vitaphone system.


RCA perfects its sound–on–film system that it calls “Photophone”. The RCA reproducing systems are cheaper to install in theaters than the Movietone systems, yet the optical tracks of each are interchangeable.


Significant Films:

Fritz Lang’s film, “Metropolis”, is released. Produced at the UFa studios in Germany, this science fiction film took almost a year to make.

Paramount releases the film, “It”, starring Clara Bow. Because of her sex appeal, Clara Bow is immediately dubbed the “It” Girl.

The film, “Wings”, is the fist movie to deal with the subject of military aviation.

The Fox Film Corporation releases, “Sunrise ”, directed by F.W. Murnau. The dark, introspective style of this German director adds prestige to the Fox film catalogue.

Abel Gance’s innovative film, “Napoleon”, is released in France. Using multiple screens and many technical innovations, the film extends the limits of cinema.

Warner Bros. premiers, “The Jazz Singer”, starring Al Jolson. This is the first feature film in which music, songs, and some of the spoken dialogue is recorded and then synchronized with the picture so that it can be heard by the audience. The Vitaphone sound–on–disc system is used. Costing a little over $400,000 to make, it bings in domestic revenues of almost $2 million.


The Picture Show Man website was established in 2004 to be a comprehensive and free resource for anyone interested in vintage movies. Our focus is the history of motion pictures from the beginning of its development in 1890, to the end of 1960.

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