Silents Please

ABC (ended 1961)


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Silents Please

Show Summary

Silents Please showcased abridged classic silent films edited into a half-hour television format. Ernie Kovacs became the host during its second season.
Each episode included an edited abridgment of a classic silent feature, a summary of the excised missing footage, an interpretive narration, and synchronization of the original music score and effects.
The episodes of Silents Please that are known are listed primarily by copyright date. Those with known air dates will have those listed.
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  • Trimmed-down silent features, frustrating to those who had lived through that era, and a poor way to introduce them to those born later. It's nice to see Kovacs, but he adds suprisingly litle.moreless

    Paul Killiam's stock-in-trade was recycling old public domain films, mainly from the silent days.His first venture was "Movie Museum", which started out locally in New York and then a syndicated version followed. In 1960, a nostalgia craze for the 20's and their films was in full bloom, stemming from, at least in part, the Robert Youngson compilations of silent slapstick comedies and serial thrills.

    ABC, perpetually third of the three networks, was willing to try anything, so a network run of Movie Museum, now titled "Silents, Please" was put on during the summer.

    This is a pretty shabby way to see these films, and any bright spark of genius or nuance is pushed aside to tell the story, with narration by Killiam himself, all packed into a 25 minute condensation, with breaks for sponsors Ralston Purina or CCA Cigar brands.

    Sometimes the condition of the films were shockingly poor. For instance,the episode made from the Douglas Fairbanks epic, "The Thief of Bahgdad" appears to be an 8mm print that was played a thousand times, leaving hundreds of deep, dark emulsion scratches throughout.

    In 1961 it came back, this time at the insistance of Ernie Kovacs, who taped introductions to them at his wild, incoherently decorated den in his home. But Ernie does or says nothing funny, he merely reads copy on the film supplied by Killiam, as seriously and flatly as if he were doing a newscast. These were shown on the weeks when Ernie's great specials were not, in the same time slot. After this, the series had a brief syndicated life.moreless

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