Novelty of sound in The Hayseeds
Typical Beau Smith direction – there’s absolutely no explanation of what a line of dancing girls is doing on the edge of Dad Hayseed’s land, no establishing shots to give us a sense of the farm, no physical or even aural connection between the Hayseeds on their porch and the dancing line of girls (who are accompanied by a band). The film was a JC Williamson production and Williamsons had a chorus line for their stage shows – which is presumably why they ended up in the scene. Still, audiences at the time were still enjoying the novelty of sound on film, and they probably enjoyed the incongruity of these scenes just as we do now.
Notes by Paul Byrnes
The 1930s was a time of significant change in Australian cinema. The arrival of synchronised sound, music and dialogue provided new opportunities for filmmakers and films. Nonetheless, the tightly synchronised orchestral approach to scoring that typified many Hollywood, Europe and Russian films of that period did not gain traction in Australia until the 1940s. This more-than-a-decade delay was largely a reflection of availability of technology in Australia, including a paucity of infrastructure for orchestral music composition and for the synchronisation of music to sound technology equipment, but also the unavailability of experienced Australian composers using the new medium. Due to these limitations, much of the music was simply broadcast or, as we can see in the above clip, performed within a film’s diegeis or then played overtop of images. The arrival of sound was at first perhaps a novelty and sometimes – as this clip demonstrates - had no obvious connection to the film itself.
Additional notes by Johnny Milner