December 9, 2008
Great Moments in Sound History

Movie studios in the 30's had a problem. Once they were producing talkies, the dialogue cards could no longer be translated for easy exportation to other markets.

[I]n the very early days of talkies, dubbing and subtitling for foreign versions had not yet become standard. Sometimes entire films would be re-shot in different languages, frequently with changes of cast and variations in content. On occasion the foreign editions of short comedies would be expanded to feature-length by the addition of deleted scenes and/or by the combination of two films into a single entity. Laurel & Hardy remade several shorts (and one feature, PARDON US) in this fashion, speaking their own dialogue with the aid of language coaches and off-camera prompting boards. Most of these remakes were in Spanish, though several were in French and a few others done in German

Glenn Mitchell, laurelandhardy.org

Here's the opening from the Spanish version of Chickens Come Home (1931):

Other studios took to shooting entire films in parallel, working on the same sets with the same script, but an entirely different crew at night with the English team working during the day and the other team at night. This practice produced good results, but resulted in some interesting variations such as the Spanish version of 1931's Dracula where the director decided to fill the castle with armadillos.


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