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Looking Back

April 1929

Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in April 1929. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.

For more information about these theaters, see Cinema Treasures or Water Winter Wonderland.


Spite Marriage, the last silent film by comedian Buster Keaton, opened in Detroit at the Fisher theater on Friday, April 26, 1929. It earlier opened in New York City on March 24, 1929. Spite Marriage also featured Dorothy Sebastian and was the second movie that Keaton made for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio.

When Spite Marriage was released, the tide had almost completely turned in favor of talking pictures, which had debuted in late 1927 with The Jazz Singer. In both Detroit and New York, Spite Marriage was presented with synchronized sound and intertitles for dialogue.

"There were waves of laughter from top to bottom of the house," wrote Mordaunt Hall in a review of Spite Marriage in the New York Times on March 25, 1929. "Mr. Keaton's Mohican-like visage stands him in good stead, for he can do crack-brained things and yet make people happy." In New York, Spite Marriage opened earlier than originally planned at the Capitol theater, because of the poor sound quality in the talking picture The Great Power, which was screened just six times before being replaced by Spite Marriage.

"Buster Keaton in an awfully dressy affair, because Buster wears evening clothes and swanky yachting togs most of the time, called 'Spite Marriage' is at the Fisher," wrote Ella H. McCormick in the April 27, 1929 Detroit Free Press. "And, although it is a silent picture in these days of the omnipresent 'talkie,' it has humorous and smart captions that reveal a comedy as well as an audience sense."

Also playing in Detroit on April 26, 1929 was M-G-M's first sound movie, The Broadway Melody (Anita Page, Bessie Love), in its fifth week at the Adams.

Other movies in Detroit on April 26 were Show Boat (Laura La Plante, Alma Rubens) at the State; His Captive Woman (Milton Sills, Dorothy Mackaill) at the Madison; Noah's Ark (Dolores Costello, George O'Brien) at the Shubert Detroit Opera House; Alibi (Chester Morris, Eleanor Griffith) at the United Artists; Sonny Boy (Davey Lee, Betty Bronson) at the Michigan; Clara Bow's first talking picture, The Wild Party, at the Capitol; and Thru Different Eyes (Mary Duncan, Warner Baxter) at the Fox.

At the Fisher, Spite Marriage succeeded The Wolf Song (Gary Cooper, Lupe Velez). Spite Marriage played at the Fisher for one week until May 2, 1929 and was followed by The Divine Lady (Corinne Griffith).

Ann Arbor audiences were treated to the opening of Spite Marriage at the Michigan theater on Sunday, May 5, 1929, following a run of Fancy Baggage (Audrey Ferris, Myrna Loy). Spite Marriage was presented with live accompaniment at the Michigan, which would not present its first sound picture until one month later on June 16, 1929 (Weary River, with Richard Barthelmess).

Also playing in Ann Arbor on May 5, 1929 were the talking picture The Canary Murder Case (Louise Brooks, William Powell) at the Wuerth (the first Ann Arbor theater wired for sound); The Bellamy Trial (Leatrice Joy, Betty Bronson) at the Majestic; The House of Shame! at the Orpheum; and Circus Rookies (Karl Dane, George Arthur) at the Rae.

Spite Marriage was followed at the Michigan on May 9 by Women They Talk About (Irene Rich, Audrey Ferris).

Click here to see a PDF of newspaper images relating to the opening of Spite Marriage.


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Web site copyright © 2014 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.

Launched November 25, 2005.

Last updated November 23, 2014.

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