Hollywood (1980– )
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Contrary to popular belief, the silent film in general had reached a high state of sophistication by the late 1920s.




Episode credited cast:
James Mason ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson ... Himself (archive footage)
Karl Brown Karl Brown ... Himself
Gaylord Carter ... Himself
Jackie Coogan ... Himself
Dolores Costello ... Herself
George Cukor ... Himself
Viola Dana ... Herself
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Himself
A. Arnold Gillespie A. Arnold Gillespie ... Himself
Dorothy Gish ... Actress in 'Julia of Bethulia' (archive footage)
Lillian Gish ... Herself
Chauncey Haines Chauncey Haines ... Himself
Byron Haskin ... Himself
Anita Loos ... Herself


The opening episode of this epic, landmark series belies the commonly held misconception that silent films are crudely-made historical curiosities but a vibrant art form that had reached a high degree of sophistication by the late 1920s. Film clips from silent classics as well as interviews with surviving silent stars and filmmakers are featured. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

28 April 1980 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Thames Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Byron Haskin: [of director Michael Curtiz] He was an acrobat or something from one of those obscure Magyar countries somewhere between Czechoslovakia and Yugoslovakia.
See more »


Features The Black Pirate (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

Probably my least favorite episode of a brilliant series.
11 October 2014 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This episode begins with Al Jolson and "The Jazz Singer" and works its way backward in American silent films. I didn't mind this style of doing this, though I was surprised how little attention was actually given to the earliest American films. They were VERY quickly mentioned, as if in passing--so you get almost nothing about the early Edison films as well as many of the other early filmmakers. To me, this is a mistake and the show should have talked MUCH more about these pre-Hollywood American films. After all, American silents did NOT begin in Hollywood and episodes 1 and 2 make you almost think that--or that very, very, very few films were made before filmmakers moved to California. This is NOT the case.

Now that I've completed my rant, I will say that I still thoroughly enjoyed this first episode. Like the rest of the series, I was impressed by the number of clips, interviews and information. Plus, I did appreciate how it talked about the impact of "Birth of Nation" while NOT downplaying what a racist film it was! Well worth seeing-- and the series only gets better!

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