They Had Voices Then

Strange Cargo adIt’s fairly common knowledge that when it became clear that talkies were here to stay, Hollywood rushed to sign actors from the New York stage to ensure they had performers under contract whose voices and talents were suited to sound pictures.

But never before now had we seen the presence of stage players in the cast touted in a picture’s advertising. The marketing department obviously thought this approach would draw the average moviegoer to the theatre.

We came across an advertisement for this early talkie while researching a video tribute to Lee Patrick that we posted recently, and we’ve been musing over what the pitch here actually is. Is it “Look, we’ve loaded the cast with more than a dozen prominent stage actors; you can count on our talkies being of superior quality”? Or is it perhaps something more along the lines of “Here’s your chance to see fourteen—count ’em, 14—Broadway actors without all the trouble and expense of traveling to New York City”?

Perhaps it was a bit of both.