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Hollywood - Celebration of the American Silent Film
June 18, 2012 6:34 AM   Subscribe

The wonderful, and fairly rare, 13-part documentary series from 1980 - Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film - is narrated by James Mason for Thames Television. Episode One - The Pioneers - [52 mins] [the rest are linked inside] shows:-
"the evolution of film from penny arcade curiosity to art form, from what was considered the first plot driven film, The Great Train Robbery, through to The Birth of a Nation, films showing the power of the medium. Early Technicolor footage, along with other color technologies, are also featured. Interviews include Lillian Gish, Jackie Coogan and King Vidor.*"

You can see brief episode summaries in this Wikipedia article: Hollywood (documentary)


Episode Two - In the Beginning

Episode Three - Single Beds and Double Standards

Episode Four - Hollywood Goes To War

Episode Five - Hazard of the Game

Episode Six - Swanson and Valentino

Episode Seven - Autocrats

Episode Eight - Comedy - A Serious Business

Episode Nine - Out West

Episode Ten - Man With the Megaphone

Episode Eleven - Trick of the Light

Episode Twelve - Star Treatment

Episode Thirteen - End of an Era


[all from Youtube user, BentoJoaoAntonio]

It's my understanding that the convoluted and litigious environment surrounding rights and slicing and dicing of profits has prevented the series from making it from video to dvd or Blu-ray. The series was written, produced and directed by Kevin Brownlow & David Gill. {ps. YTD.}
posted by peacay (19 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Since I would listen to James Mason reading an optometrist's eye chart or a 1987 Toyota owner's manual with delight, this sounds fantastic.
posted by chavenet at 6:39 AM on June 18, 2012


Brownlow and Gill were also responsible for the series Unknown Chaplin, which I mention because it gives me a chance to link to this out-take from City Lights, which had me rolling on the floor laughing when I first saw it.

Hollywood is an excellent series, of course, which I remember clearly from dear-god-it's-thirty-two years ago.
posted by Grangousier at 7:08 AM on June 18, 2012


Interview with Brownlow .
Guide to series, US.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2012


This is AMAZING, and yeah, due to various rights-clearing hangups the series has never been and may never be released commercially on video...damn I wish this was just a little bit better quality though. I'm grabbing these down right now in case they disappear, but if anyone has a source for higher resolution captures please share that as well!
posted by trackofalljades at 7:18 AM on June 18, 2012


A little Googling says that this series came out on HBO VHS and Laserdisc. If that's true, you might be able to find it on eBay.
posted by pracowity at 7:38 AM on June 18, 2012


By the way, it's weird that they used Eddie Izzard doing God for the narrator.
posted by pracowity at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, I should have said DVD not just "video," that's what these YouTube posts are actually (captures off VHS, you can tell that's not Laserdisc source). If I spoke Spanish, I'd attempt to contact the dude and see if he might be willing to share his tapes with someone willing to attempt a better capture of them.
posted by trackofalljades at 7:44 AM on June 18, 2012


A note to would be.. archivists: Episode 10 on YouTube is not actually the episode, but just a notification that it was blocked. I couldn't possibly comment on which bay you might find the complete series as well.
posted by Harry at 7:45 AM on June 18, 2012


This is a great series, that benefits greatly by having been done at a time when many silent-era actors, directors, etc. were still living.

The only downside, from an historical "completist" point of view, is that it is Hollywood-centric and relegates European cinema of the same period to footnote status, save for it being a source for a lot of the talent that made Hollywood what it is.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:50 AM on June 18, 2012


Oh thanks Harry, I hadn't actually got up to there yet. I had heard something about it being redacted; didn't realise it was fully blocked.
posted by peacay at 7:52 AM on June 18, 2012


my grandfather cut Jackie Coogan's hair.
posted by eggtooth at 9:40 AM on June 18, 2012


I don't get the complaint that it is too Hollywood-centric, Thorzdad. That's the title subject. How could it be anything but Hollywood-centric?
posted by Longtime Listener at 10:44 AM on June 18, 2012


I couldn't possibly comment on which bay you might find the complete series as well.

This sounds like a coded message that I'm too dumb to decode.
posted by uraniumwilly at 11:05 AM on June 18, 2012


my grandfather cut Jackie Coogan's hair.

"The Kid" Coogan or "Uncle Fester" Coogan? Has anyone every made a Coogan post here?
posted by pracowity at 11:16 AM on June 18, 2012


This sounds like a coded message that I'm too dumb to decode.

I don't see it on either bay that I know of. Purely for informational purposes, I can point you to two torrents and various Amazon listings that, if the descriptions are to be believed, indicate that you might be able to buy something used in VHS or laserdisc format.
posted by pracowity at 11:39 AM on June 18, 2012


Ah, thanks for everything. I was looking and just assumed I was not in the know enough to see it.
posted by uraniumwilly at 12:28 PM on June 18, 2012


Has anyone every made a Coogan post here?

Does Steve count?
posted by juiceCake at 8:48 PM on June 18, 2012


"The Kid" Coogan at the La Salle Hotel in Chicago circa...? 20's?
posted by eggtooth at 12:37 PM on June 19, 2012


He also shook hands with Teddy Roosevelt, so, maybe late 10's.
posted by eggtooth at 12:44 PM on June 19, 2012


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