Looking For John Smith (1906)
(Alternative) Si Jones Looking for John Smith
In "LOOKING FOR JOHN SMITH" the Biograph’s latest comedy feature, a decided novelty has been introduced. In one of the scenes the characters are made to speak their lines by means of words that appear to flow mysteriously from their mouths. This is the first time that “talking pictures” have been shown, and they will prove bewildering and amusing to everyone. There is not much of a plot story, but no plot is needed to bring out the laughs. A certain John Smith is wanted to claim an inheritance, and his cousin, Si Jones, goes to a spiritualist to find how to locate him. Spirit letters advise advertising, so Si goes to see the editor, and their conversation is given as referred above, i.e. by actual words issuing from their mouths. The advertisement is inserted, and of course a hundred John Smiths appear and claim the inheritance. They chase Si all over the place but he finally escapes them by getting into a room and bolting the door. He climbs into bed to hide, but while there a storm of dancing letters appears in the room. These letters finally shape into J-O-H-N S-M-I-T-H on the wall, and Si gives up it despair, convinced that he has gone crazy. Trick photography supplies the chief interest in the production.
Source: Biograph Bulletin
The picture begins with two men talking, and their conversation appears, by mean of stop-action photography, in ballons on the black wall behind them. All of the remaining scenes contain some element of stop-action photography; the last scene shows a rogue's glaaery photograph of a sought after man, which moves as if he were alive.
Source: Library of Congress