Emiliano Sued

An old tuxedo and Gardel

n 1923 the United States citizen Lee De Forest presented, before the press, a sound system for motion pictures which allowed recording the audio of a movie on the same celluloid tape. The Phonofilm system converted the recorded sound into beams of light of variable density which were written on one of the margins of the film and were later decoded.

In 1930 the new device was bought by the Argentine movie producer, Cinematográfica Valle, to shoot short movies to complement the cinema theater programs. The director in charge of it was Eduardo Morera and the star was Carlos Gardel, who until then had had only one sole experience in front of a movie camera: between June and July 1917 had been starred in Flor de durazno, a silent feature film directed by Francisco Defilippis Novoa.

In April that same year, Gardel had recorded his first tango: “Mi noche triste (Lita)”, by Pascual Contursi and Samuel Castriota. Accompanied by the Francisco Canaro orchestra, Viejo smoking was the first of the short movies shot and the only one in which a short scene takes place. With the innovative synchronization of image and sound, what was also being blended, for once and for always, was Gardel’s cinema image, Gardel as actor, that who had as only background (the silent movie), with the sound of his voice, Gardel as tango singer. That image and that voice were separately born in 1917.

Together (technologically reunited) for the first time in “Viejo smoking” give rise to a Gardel, tango singer and actor, for the movies. The old tuxedo then left the wardrobe to provide splendor to some of his new characters.