Wilhelm scream

From Academic Kids

The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect first recorded in 1951 for the movie Distant Drums. It has been featured in dozens of movies since. Alongside a certain recording of the cry of the Red-tailed Hawk, it is probably the most well-known cinematic sound cliché.

The Wilhelm's revival came from Star Wars-series sound designer Ben Burtt, who tracked down the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled "Man being eaten by alligator"). He named it after Wilhelm, a minor character who emitted the scream in the 1953 movie The Charge at Feather River. Its use in Star Wars was the beginning of something of an in-joke amongst some sound designers of the film industry, especially at Skywalker Sound. They continue to try to incorporate it into movies wherever feasible; action movies are naturals, but film sound cognoscenti are particularly impressed when it is used naturally in films such as A Star Is Born (with Judy Garland) and A Goofy Movie.

Some people, once aware of it, recognize it immediately. A group of these people feel that it distracts from the film and interrupts the flow of the film. Other sound effects, such as the Tarzan yell, heard in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, can also prove distracting from the narrative. (The Tarzan yell is also heard in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, during the establishing shot on Kashyyk. The pitch of it seems to have been altered slightly.)

Due to its relative obscurity to the general public, the Massachusetts punk band A Wilhelm Scream has used the name as their name for the last two years.

Sheb Wooley is considered by many to be the most likely voice actor for the scream, having appeared on a memo as a voice extra for Distant Drums.

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