Applause (1929) by Rouben Mamoulian

Thursday, February 11, 1988, 7:30 pm

The Coming Of Sound

Early Film Musicals


800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA, 94133

Applause (1929) by Rouben Mamoulian, with Helen Morgan, 79 Min.; Monte Carlo (1930) by Ernst Lubitsch, with Jeanette MacDonald, 94 min

Tonight’s program features two musicals from the early sound era. Unlike most ‘talkies’ from the period that were weighed down by the new device, these two directors met the challenge of using both sound and imagery creatively. In Monte Carlo Lubitsch, already a great director of silent comedy, beautifully integrates music and ambient sounds into his repertory of delicate visual touches and sight gags. Jeannette MacDonald plays a destitute woman determined to marry for money who instead falls in love with a barber (who is in fact a nobleman), a classic Lubitsch triangle exposing the illusions and manners of the rich. Applause was Mamoulian’s directorial debut, a landmark sound film. It remains astonishing for the way in which he transforms the common melodrama of a burlesque queen who sacrifices herself for her daughter into a transcendent sound-image montage of theater life.