In case you didn’t know, the first Romanian film with sound came out only eight years after its invention, in Hollywood, which is, without a doubt, an extraordinary thing for our country.
What’s more, Bing Bang is said to have run behind closed doors at the Military Circle in Bucharest, where it was first shown on 7 February 1935.
Bing Bang, an unexpected success: 50 cinemas in Bucharest turned it down
Although made in 1934, Bing Bang was not “released” until a year later, and was a real hit in cinemas. It could not have been otherwise, since it was the first film with sound produced in Romania, and public curiosity towards this niche was unstoppable.
After years of watching the actors to the background of atmospheric music, the audience could now hear their voices.
As a small aside, the era of the sound film managed to end the careers of many silent film actors. Hearing their voices, which may not have been in line with audience expectations, there were instances of people bursting into hysterical laughter in movie theaters. Naturally, this happened in the United States, but it could just as easily have happened here.
Bing Bang got a tremendous reception, though. This film marked the debut of a comic couple who have since become famous. Stroe and Vasilache were already well known at the time in interwar revue shows. They were often accompanied by the great actor Grigore Vasiliu Birlic.
According to the scanarium, Bing Bang told the stories of unemployed people in the capital. Nicolae Stroe (Bing) and Vasile Vasilache (Bang), were to write history in sound film cinematography.
Naturally, we are talking about a lot of situation comedy, a very appreciated niche at that time, but also about a story that was going to catch the audience’s attention, but especially to resonate with the reality of the interwar times.
At the time, 300,000 lei were spent on this film (at the then current exchange rate), some of which came from the pockets of the two revue actors themselves.
“In Romania, this became possible only in 1934, when the engineer Iulian Gartenberg-Argani from Bucharest, who was also the film’s executive producer, designed an original sound system and thus sound cinematography began in our country. Unfortunately, no eloquent data on this remarkable technician has been preserved,” writes impact.ro.
However, before being shown at the National Military Circle, it should be noted that the film encountered great difficulties, as not one of the 50 cinemas in interwar Bucharest wanted to show interest in showing it.
To the actors’ great good fortune, it seems that the recipe worked out well in the end, even if it had a less than smooth road to glory.
Basically, one could say that Bing Bang is the first Romanian film in which the Romanian language can actually be heard.
Romanian versus American cinema
Before Bing Bang, the film that broke the barriers of “sound”, there were other films, this time silent, that did honor to Romanian cinema. Although the history is not as rich as that of American cinema, for example, there were a number of titles that managed to stand out.
The first Romanian silent film appeared in 1910, under the title Scurtmetraj, which is exactly as the title describes it, a short film. In 1912 Independence of Romania, also a silent film, appeared.
As far as sound films are concerned, the world’s first sound film premiered on 6 October 1927 and was called The Jazz Singer. Two years later, In Old Arizona became the first sound film to be shot outside of a studio. Clearly, both the first and second mentions are of particular importance for understandable reasons.
As a matter of fact, in order to be better understood, and also to compensate for the inability of the technology that was still in its infancy, American actors of the time adopted a so-called transatlantic accent, which was a mixture of American and British. Before long, people in American high society began to adopt the accent as well, but for entirely different reasons.