Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Billy Merson

More tape findings while the boot sales take a rest. Billy merson had a long career in the music hall, the circus and short films as this British Film Institute blurb describes-

"Billy Merson, a popular British performer and songwriter has been described as one of the greats of the music hall era. He gained considerable fame on the variety, pantomime and musical comedy stage and in 1915 started making two and three-reel comedies for Homeland Productions, shooting over a boathouse in Kew. Merson realised how much his act - even the slapstick routines - depended on comic patter and this is evident in the way he embraced the experiments in film sound. Using Lee De Forest’s 1926 Phonofilm, 'Billy Merson singing Desdemona', has been described as Britain’s first sound film. The reproduction for the film’s sound required an attachment to the projector and electric amplifiers, but the problems of synchronisation were made easier with De Forest’s system because the film carried space for a soundtrack running at the side of the picture, twenty frames behind the picture. Unfortunately, De Forest and Merson’s luck didn’t last. In 1928 one of De Forest’s principal staff, Theodore Case left to work at 20th Century Fox. In an example of the ruthless competition over sound at the time, De Forest’s system was rendered useless as Fox decided to put the sound twenty frames in front of the picture, meaning projectors equipped for De Forest were completely out of synch. Merson eventually went bust after he tried to get a credit from Al Jolson who plagiarised his song 'The Spaniard that Blighted My Life'."

See a short clip of film at the BFI HERE

Billy Merson - Medley/Senora etc.

Billy Merson - The Photo Of The Girl I Left Behind

Billy Merson - The Spaniard That Blighted My Life

These You Send It files are available for seven days or until exhausted.

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