In 1927 came an event that revolutionized the movie industry: Warner Brothers released The Jazz Singer with portions of synchronized dialogue and songs and suddenly silent films were outmoded.
The coming of sound was to ruin many a top star's career - many floundered because their speaking voices or thick accents did not compare to audience's preconceived notions. Not so for Ronald Colman;
if anything he became even more popular - his modulated voice and British accent not only met but exceeded his public's expectations.

Early sound films were hampered by technical difficulties - the huge camera had to be encased in a large soundproof box and movement was limited, unwieldy microphones hidden amidst the scenery drew actors into static clusters to say their lines - but within a few short years these problems were overcome and the movie industry blossomed as never before.

Colman's first talkie was 1929's Bulldog Drummond, for which he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination. In addition to his cultured voice, Colman's acting style had always been more restrained than some of the more flamboyant histrionics seen on the silent screen - overly dramatic gestures and facial expressions that had seemed apropos without dialogue were laughed off the screen with the coming of sound.

world cruise

In the early 30's producer Sam Goldwyn decided Colman was too big a star to 'overexpose' and limited him to one film a year. Colman therefore had time to enjoy his hard-earned success. He took a world cruise, joined partway by good friend Richard Barthelmess.

Goldwyn's next publicity stunt definitely backfired; he authorized press releases saying Colman needed a few drinks to sustain his acting - something that may have well applied to quite a few of his colleagues, but was not the case for Colman. He understandably took offense to Goldwyn's little plan, sued his boss for a couple million dollars and vowed not to work for him again. The case was settled out of court, but Colman asked for and received a release from his contract with Goldwyn. Thus ended a decade that had been highly profitable for both producer and star. Colman soon became one of just a handful of top stars to successfully freelance, picking and choosing his assignments and studios.



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