While most people consider The Jazz Singer (1927) the first talking picture, the first full-length sound film – without dialogue but with a recorded musical soundtrack - was the 1926 Don Juan. In 1976, on the 50th anniversary of the film’s premiere, a newly-restored copy was created, with film and musical historian Miles Kreuger interviewed for the AT&T newsmagazine, Monitor.
Don Juan premiered on August 6th, 1926, at the Warner Theater at 47th and Broadway in New York City. The movie house of the premiere was the first to be equipped with the Vitaphone projection and playback system. Don Juan itself starred John Barrymore and Mary Astor, and a very young Myrna Loy had a bit part.
Reportedly, the movie contained this bit of unusual trivia: the most women kissed onscreen by one man, Barrymore (as Don Juan): a staggering 191.
- About George Groves, the musical engineer for the program and the Vitaphone shorts.
- 2011 interview with Kreuger about the Institute of the American Musical.
- A 1946 article from Bell Telephone Magazine, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary, explaining which Bell System technologies contributed to the development of the Vitaphone theater system.
- 1946 ad for ERPI, or Electrical Research Products Division (part of Western Electric), on the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Don Juan.
Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ