These were calculated, cautious moves; now the Warner brothers, known for their audacity, took a giant leap of faith. Their Jazz Singer wasn't really a true 'talkie'; it merely broke free from quiet conventions for a few songs and a few lines of dialogue. The plot, about a cantor's son who pursues a career in the show industry, was far from current. The novelty of talking visuals was overshadowed by Jolson's hip-swiveling salesmanship.
The picture sparked a mad rush to convert all studios and movie theatres to sound, signaling the end of a pure, strong silent-film art form. By 1930, almost every picture in the United States was a talkie, and movies haven't stopped talking since. The shout heard 'round the world was Jolson's slangy cry.
The opening-night crowd at the Warner Theatre near Times Square cut the umbilical cord to silent films, which had been the dominant screen language for 30 years. The movies, on the other hand, have to speak up.