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MAY 31 & JUNE 1
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At their inception, motion pictures were a global art form. Pictures of fat people falling down or mustachioed men menacing pale, zaftig women were universally understood. But just like evil Bill Gates and his engineering minions who insist on “upgrading” our “possibilities” beyond any need or request, tinkerers in the early 20th century decided that audiences needed to actually hear actors shouting, “Hey!” and “Stop that train!” Of course, they were wrong. But progress is unstoppable, and thus the script doctor was born. As part of “The Dawn of Movie Sound,” Scott Eyman, author of The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930, will introduce several early efforts in the long march toward Pauly Shore movies. The two-day program includes Vitaphone shorts featuring Al Jolson and George Jessel and The Better ‘Ole, a 1926 Vitaphone feature (pictured, Saturday at 2 p.m.); the first “all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing” musical, The Broadway Melody, from 1929; and White Shadows in the South Seas, a 1928 feature that was shot silent but had sound added (both Sunday at 6 p.m.). At the National Gallery of Arts’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Dave Nuttycombe)