This is the season of Hollywood's unrestrained id: the brainless summer blockbuster, the air-conditioned multiplex, the bottomless popcorn refills, the avalanche of kids emerging blinking into bright sunlight, waiting for their parental pickup. But August is also the anniversary of the movies themselves! It was on August 31, 1897 that Thomas Edison patented his first movie camera, the Kinetograph. In honor of 119 years of cinematic glitz and glamour, we've asked movie buff and Jeopardy! tough Ken Jennings to give us the "reel" truth on all kinds of old-movie misinformation.
The Debunker: Was The Jazz Singer the First Sound Film?
Every time the deafening THX or Dolby Digital logo appears on the screen of my neighborhood theater, I kneel down in my row and say a quick thank-you prayer to the makers of Hollywood's first "talkie," without which none of this would be possible. Thank you, movie gods, for…1928's Lights of New York. Oh, you thought I was talking about The Jazz Singer? Wait a minute, wait a minute—you ain't heard nothing yet.