Sound Feature: Dynamite


Studio: Cecil B. DeMille Productions
A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Picture
Premiered: July 25, 1929, Carthay Circle Theater in Los Angeles
Released: December 13, 1929

Featured Cast: Kay Johnson, Charles Bickford, Conrad Nagel

Producer-director: Cecil B. DeMille
Screenwriters: Gladys Unger, John Howard Lawson, Jeanie Macpherson
Source: a Jeanie Macpherson story
Art directors: Mitchell Leisen, Cedric Gibbons
Cinematographer: J. Peverell Marley
Editor: Anne Bauchens


A wealthy woman marries a condemned murderer in order to keep her inheritance.

Production Quote

“Cecil DeMille will rehearse the cast of Dynamite until it is letter perfect. This is the first time he has directed dialogue rehearsals since he left Broadway sixteen years ago.”

– “Whispering Wires,” Motion Picture Magazine, March 1929


“Cecil B. DeMille has emerged as a pioneer in effects. He has an amazing grasp of the medium. You may rave at certain phases of the hokum plot that he presents, but the audible screen gives him the opportunity to disclose an entirely new bag of tricks. In unexpectedness and interest, Dynamite is a peak.”

– Edwin Schallert, “Spectacle and Thrill Effects Lend Vivid Interest to DeMille Feature,” Los Angeles Times, p. H2 (July 21, 1929)

“A potpourri of all previous DeMille efforts crammed into one picture. Held up by the excellence of the individual performances, the lavish production and a mine cave-in climax, the picture is sure-fire box-office fare and is a likely holdover entry for some spots, despite its unnecessary length.”

– The Weekly Variety, January 1, 1930

Artist Comment

“That was my first contribution of any value to sound pictures, retaining the silent techniques, and combining those techniques with sound. Such great, great value, that the moment you put the sound with it, you were back in the stage and all that the stage could give you, and the whole technique of the stage was at your disposal, plus being able to paint on the broad canvas of the silent screen. I brought those two together, and that perhaps is what Dynamite did for the world.”

– Cecil B. DeMille to George C. Pratt, “Interview with Cecil B. DeMille,” courtesy of George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film


Dynamite cost $661,123.32 and grossed $1,182,869.03.
(These figures have not been adjusted for inflation nor do they include the considerable profits realized from reissues, television syndication, and home entertainment formats.)