THE FIRST AUTO
S.: Darryl F.Zanuck. Sc.: Anthony Coldeway. F.: David Abel. Mus.: Herman Heller. In.: Barney Oldfield, Patsy Ruth Miller (Rose Robbins), Russell Simpson (Hank Armstrong, Charles Emmett Mack (Bob Armstrong), William Demarest (Dave Doolittle), Frank Campeau, Paul Kruger. P.: Warner Bros., The Vitaphone Corp. 35mm.
“A Romance of the Last Horse and the First Horeseless Carriage” by Darryl Zanuck, The First Auto is enlivened by Patsy Ruth Miller and William Demarest, with Russell Simpson in a starring role. Barney Oldfield plays himself as a famous driver testing the new racing autos. Charles Emmett Mack’s career was cut short in 1927 when he was killed in a car crash on his way to the studio.
The film was released in June 1927, three months before The Jazz Singer and belongs somehow to that pre-history of the talkies which is too often forgotten and which came to a new light after the restoration of a number of Vitaphone features and silents. In our opinion, The First Auto is a major example of that short, complicated, confused and amazing period of transition from silent to sound, when patterns, styles and forms of both the old and the new cinema could live together.