These stories can also be heard Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Look Back in Time” program. Each week’s radio story will be posted here on our website.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
July 30, 2023
Less than 100 years ago, movies were undergoing a transformation from the old silent movies, sometimes with live music to enhance the experience of watching the movie. In this article from May 9, 1930, in the Roseau Times-Region, the switch to sound was being given a Public Hearing at the local movie theater.
With the showing of “Sweetie” this evening and tomorrow evening, Friday and Saturday, Bell & Johnson, managers of the Princess Theatre, will initiate the talking moving picture in Roseau. The management has been able to book some very high-class pictures with the installation of the modern equipment, and the public can be assured of some delightful entertainment. Not only is the music, the conversation and all sound reproduced during the picture, but the news features are also sound reproduced.
This week-end show is a musical comedy starring Nancy Carroll and Helen Kane assisted by Jack Oakie, Stanley Smith and William Austin. The show is said to be a bracer for the eye and ear.
The new equipment consists of two projecting machines and two turntables located in the movie booth. The turntables correspond to the disc on the phonograph, on which the record is placed. In the talkie, however, the needle works from the inside of the disc outward. The turntables and the projectors are synchronized and connected directly with each other, so that the sound will correspond accurately with the pictures. A tear in the film necessitates replacement of just the same length of blank film so as not to break the correct adjustment between the sound and the picture. The two machines are necessary in order to give a continuous show each evening. The controls and amplifiers are also placed in the booth, but the speaker is placed and boxed in behind the porous curtain on the stage and connected by a wire from the booth.
One week later in the May 16, 1930, Roseau Times Region, the verdict was in.
The large crowds that jammed the Princess Theatre for the Friday and Saturday evening “talkies” were very much pleased with the sound pictures and the way the theatre has been improved.
Besides the “talkies,” which in itself is so far ahead of the silent movie that no comparison can be made, the management has had installed about three hundred opera chairs, which take away the tired feeling that so frequently became the case with the old seating equipment. A rubber carpet covers the floor in each aisle, and a foyer with two entrances have been built at the rear of the hall.
The management is to be congratulated on the improvement.
Three years later, the theatre in Roseau was the Roxy Theatre and was managed by Mr. Juvrud.
On August 31, 1933, the Northern Minnesota Leader reported that the Roxy Theatre in Roseau had installed new sound equipment. Here’s the description:
Sunday evening movie fans of this community got quite a surprise at the class of program and clarity of sound – the new sound equipment had been installed. This is a marked improvement over the previous equipment, which got out of time once in a while.
Manager Juvrud, in demonstrating the new sound device, which is an “Ultraphone Jewel,” built by the largest independent movie sound equipment manufacturing company in the country, told how it had been impossible for small theatres to install these sound on track machines because previously all of them were controlled by the General Electric Company, a subsidiary of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, which is the world’s largest trust, amounting almost to a monopoly. Mr. Juvrud said that besides charging an outrageous price they had an extra charge of $15.00 per week for servicing, a charge which has been eliminated by the Ultraphone Company.
The device which picks up the sound from a track on the film is a little short of a miracle. As the film travels over the projecting lens it travels down past a photo electric cell, where a ray from the optical lens touches it; the optical lens gets its light from an exciting lamp. By the beam of light from the optical lens, the photo electric cell picks up the sound off the sound track on the film and transmits it to the amplifier, assuring perfect timing between the picture and the sound.
As a demonstration of the sensitivity of the photo electric cell, Mr. Juvrud moved a pencil swiftly over the beam of light from the lens and a sound resulted much like tapping on a snare drum.
The new equipment will enable the showing of much later pictures than has been the case, and several foreign pictures will be available. The first of these comes to Roseau next Tuesday and Wednesday and will be the first foreign production to be shown here, the Swedish all-talking comedy, “Trotte Teodor.”
The showhouses at Warroad and Baudette are also installing similar equipment with the result that these towns will enjoy better movie service. Warroad’s sound equipment has been in poor shape, so a great improvement will be in evidence there.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share our county’s history with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.