Sarah Bernhardt in the Theatre of Films and Sound Recordings Hardcover – Oct 2003
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About the Author
David W. Menefee, formerly a contributing writer and marketing representative for The Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News, is a book editor for Brown Books Publishing Group. He is also the author of The First Female Stars: Women of the Silent Era (Greenwood 2004), The First Male Stars: Men of the Silent Era (Bear Manor Media 2007), George O'Brien: A Man's Man in Hollywood (Info Net Publishing 2008), and Between Bernhardt and Duse: The Rise and Fall of Lou-Tellegen (Em. Querido 2008.) He lives in Dallas, Texas. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The chapter on the genesis of making records in Edison's studio, for example, seems to be a hotchpotch of information, perhaps gleaned by asking someone about it and then writing up what he think he heard. Menefee reports the extraordinary idea that cylinders revolving at 90 rpm hold less information than those revolving at 160, which is patently absurd (the rpms would make the fidelity better, but with the same groove density there would be more information at 90). In effect, the faster cyinders did hold more information, but not for the reason he cites; to make it worse, Menefee does talk about groove density later on, confusingly contradicting what he's just written above.
He uses the phrase 'her unique vibrato' over and over to describe Bernhardt's voice, as though she were the only actor to use such a thing. Of course, in the days before amplification in large theaters, that was *the* way actors were able to enunciate: to spit out consonants and hold the vowels as though they were musical tones with a vibrato. If you listen to *any* recording of an actor of that age, you will hear it (Coquelin, Otis Skinner, Forbes-Robertson, even Barrymore).
There are lots of little slips like that which make the book depressingly frustrating. It would gain 75% just to be better copy-edited by someone who knew both French and English, so as not to be startled by something as odd as "Cyrano de Bèrgèrac."
Finally, it is too bad that such a book couldn't be merely the liner-notes to a DVD that contained the audio selections (there aren't many that survive), and the extant film: but that is far too much to ask anyone at this point in time.
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