10 Films That Changed Filmmaking

'The Jazz Singer' (1927)
'The Jazz Singer' was the first talking motion picture or 'talkie' ever made. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

"The Jazz Singer" was the first film to break cinema's sound barrier, charting new ground by adding spoken dialogue to a movie production. That breakthrough was good enough to earn the movie the first honorary Academy Award for technical achievement.

Warner Bros. Studios used what was then a spanking-new technology called Vitaphone. The sound-on-disc system required a projectionist to sync film reels to a phonograph record to play recorded dialogue and tunes. It was an unsteady, but very important, first step [source: Hart].

"The Vitaphoned songs and some dialogue have been introduced most adroitly," A New York Times reporter said in a 1927 review of the film. "This in itself is an ambitious move, for in the expression of song the Vitaphone vitalizes the production enormously."

Although Vitaphone and similar technologies were soon replaced by sound-on-film processes, it continued to be used for Looney Tunes and other cartoon pictures throughout the 1940s [source: Hart].