timothy_gray_el34lojg1aih1's profile

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Fri, Nov 19, 2021 7:35 PM

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Films from before 1927 should not be allowed to be classified as musicals

Currently, there are 200+ films from before the advent of sound listed as "musicals" on IMDb.

(See for yourselves: https://www.imdb.com/search/title/?release_date=,1927-10-05&genres=musical)

The Jazz Singer, generally considered the first 'talkie' and the first movie musical, was released on October 6, 1927. Now, I could understand it if I looked at IMDb and saw a few obscure experimental precursors to the musical being classified as such, but 206? I started trying to reclassify some of these as "music" (based on the plot), but stopped after realizing the sheer volume of them. Most of them have virtually no information online outside of IMDb, so it's virtually impossible to find out even basic plot details, much less view them and verify whether there's any sensical reason to call them "musicals".

IMDb has strict start and finish dates for the genre of film-noir (starting in 1927 and ending in 1958). Wouldn't it make sense to have a version of the same policy towards musicals? The idea that a silent film could be considered a musical is, to me, patently absurd. IMDb should make it a policy to automatically disallow any film released before The Jazz Singer to be classified as "musical".

P.S. The genres "music" and "musical" often get mixed up. While "musical" has a lot of genre conventions that depend on audiences being able to hear and listen to the music characters are directing at them, "music" is more based on theme. Thus, there's no reason that a silent film whose plot focuses on the life of a musician couldn't be classified as "music", considering that music would be a main theme. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how a silent film could contain "several scenes of characters bursting into song aimed at the viewer", which is what IMDb considers the essential requirement for a "musical".

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9 m ago

There were short films released in the few years before The Jazz Singer, but a 1927 cutoff, imposing high scrutiny for titles before then, seems very reasonable.

Your post is an Idea, and you have not voted For it yet. (Perhaps it was converted to Idea after you created it.)

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@bderoes Thanks. This is the first time I've posted an Idea, and I didn't realize I could vote on it. I've voted for it now.

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9 m ago

An example of musicals in silent film could be characters on screen being voiced by singers in the theatre. This is described in Brazil 1908-11.

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@Peter_pbn Or, apparently, synchronized with gramophone records, as indicated for Highlights from the Mikado (1906).

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These are both good points, but I still maintain that "music" would be a better classification than "musical" in these instances. Highlights from the Mikado (1906), for example, seems to be made up of excerpts from an opera, which IMDb's genre definitions make quite clear is not in the same category as a movie musical.

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9 m ago

At the very least any pre-1927 title in the Musical genre should be strictly scrutinized by the staff for verification. 

We have such titles listed in the Musical genre as The McDaniel Sisters Company (1914) (TV) which purports to be a 1914 TV movie starring and written by Hattie McDaniel. But nobody could have seen a TV movie in 1914, fourteen years before the first television station went on the air in 1928.

No company credits are provided to indicate who the distributor for this might have been. There is one External Review listed -- but it's not a review at all. As seen at the lower right of the page at https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84025887/1915-02-27/ed-1/seq-5/, it's an advertisement for a live stage performance by Hattie McDaniel and her troupe at Fern Hall, a ballroom in Denver.

In short, this entry seems to have nothing to do with anything eligible for listing in IMDb.

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@gromit82 I've noticed a trend where "TV Series", "TV Movie", etc. are being used very loosely on IMDb. Somebody keeps trying to ret-con 1930s-1940s cartoons into being a "TV series" despite the fact that they are and always have been short films. For example, Betty Boop (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt15180956/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0). I go onto a list of short films I made and find out that suddenly, out of nowhere, many of them have been reclassified as TV episodes. The worst part, besides the fact that it's inaccurate, is how sloppily and incomplete it is. Only about half of the shorts get ret-conned into being TV episodes, while the more well-known ones get to stay as short films, which is in fact what they all are.

Overall, it seems like there is very little oversight going on here. People are adding all sorts of incomprehensible nonsense and no one is trying to stop them.

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@timothy_gray_el34lojg1aih1 

gromit82
Wed, Sep 15, 2021
No, "Betty Boop" was not a TV series in 1930
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt15180956/

is a supposed TV series titled "Betty Boop" which supposedly debuted in 1930.

https://community-imdb.sprinklr.com/conversations/data-issues-policy-discussions/no-betty-boop-was-not-a-tv-series-in-1930/61417e5e7999fd0798c634a5

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