“Movies Saving Time, Money”

New Uni-Directional Microphone In Use

Kentucky New Era – Dec. 20, 1948

By: George Trammelt (Central Press Correspondent)

Hollywood, Dec. 20—Reams of printed matter go out daily from Hollywood, detailing the doings of the movie stars. The mechanical and technical side of the art of making motion pictures is virtually ignored.

All-important production techniques are generally overlooked by press agents and correspondents who saturate the public press and the radio lanes with more glamorous news about personalities.

However, just the other day a revolutionary production gimmick was used for the first time in the filming of a new picture.

It is technically called the uni-directional microphone. It made its debut in Danny Kaye’s latest flicker, Happy Times.

Veteran studio technicians say the new mike will save movie makers thousands of dollars on every picture and also give the fans a break.

The uni-directional microphone makes it possible for the Kaye-leidoscopic comedian to record his musical numbers precisely at the same time as he does them before the camera.

To the average movie-goer this might not seem to be out of the ordinary. However, it is completely contradictory to motion picture procedure.

Whenever you see some movie celebrity singing in a movie scene, actually he, or she, is merely making motions with his lips in time with a recording playback that had been concocted previously.

Normally a singer will pre-record his numbers on some far away sound apparatus on another sound stage. Then when the picture is actually shot, the singer will work his mouth in synchronization with the playback.

However, such a method definitely is not the best method of getting the funniest out of Danny Kaye. He is what directors call a never do the same thing twice comic.

If he does a song 10 times he usually does it in 10 different moods. If he was in one mood when he made the original record a week before, the chances are 10 to one that he will not be in the same mood when he does it a week later on the playback.

The use of the new uni-directional mike makes it possible for the sound track on the film to pick up Danny at his best mood at any given time. It will, henceforth, be utilized by other stars.

Sylvia Fine, Kaye’s wife and the writer of all his special music material, now can sit within a few feet of the camera and play Danny’s accompaniment to those lightning-fast lyrics for which he has become famous.

Geared to pick up Kaye only, the unique microphone shuts out all background noises. Thus Kaye—or any other actor—can record his own voice on the spot, the orchestra can put in the background music later and Sylvia’s accompaniment will never be heard.

Your reporter visited the Kaye set to watch the new mike operate for the first time. Between scenes we had a chance to talk with Kaye.

We discovered that Danny gets a little irked when people call his triple-tongue lyrics something brand new in theatrical routines.

“The Gilbert and Sullivan experts,” he said, “have been doing the same thing for years. Thousands of other people could do the same thing that I do if they were willing to concentrate.”

Danny recently made his own collection of Gilbert and Sullivan recordings. While the acceptance of the general public is gratifying, he caused quite a stir among the G. and S. diehards who like none of their ifs, ands and buts changed.

Mrs. Kaye, no worshipper of ancient idols, saw fit to alter some of the lyrics for Danny’s unique style. While the famed D’Oyly Carte spirit is still there, one or two words are missing in some verses.

“I hope it is just a tempest in a teapot,” said Danny, “But I certainly can’t say that my fan mail lately has been 100 per cent complimentary.”

Danny makes two significant vocal departures in his new film. He will sing no scat songs and he will, for the first time in pictures, sing a sentimental love song . . . straight.

The comic said, “There is a great difference between a fast lyric and the git-gat-giddle technique of gibberish in music. The git-gat stuff belongs to American jazz and has no place in this picture, which takes place somewhere in Middle Europe about 1810.

For this picture Kaye’s wife has whipped up a ballad called Lonely Heart. Danny sings it without a touch of his satirical technique.

The lucky gal on the receiving end of Danny’s love song will be Barbara Bates. She lays the ingénue lead of a scullery maid who, of course, gets Danny as her very own in the final reel.

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