If you have voices in your head, they’re the only ones you’ll hear while you watch the next DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN.  Join UNCLE PETE this Saturday night for the Silent Movie Spectacular!  We’ll be featuring 5 films – 4 comedies and one science fantasy – from the silent era of movie making.  For those of you not familiar with this period, here’s a little background.  Prior to the late 1920’s, people had not yet learned how to make voices when somebody was looking at them.  They could record their voice on a cylinder or 78 rpm record, but when they tried to record speaking with a camera pointed at them, it just weren’t no good.  So instead, they used to hold up signs with words on them to let you know what they said.  Eventually, people learned how to overcome this situation, and the so-called talkie era began.

     Well, this Saturday, even UNCLE PETE has been transported back to those thrilling silent days.  And in sepia-tone!     


     The first installment in our Silent Movie Spectacular features one of the kings of the early days of cinematic comedies – it’s Charlie Chaplin in The Tramp.  It follows the trials and tribulations of a good-hearted wandering bum-type guy as he wanders down life’s road – with a lot of slapstick and wacky hi-jinx.  Next up is one half of our favorite comedy duo – Stan Laurel.  We venture back to 19th century England where Stan is doing some chemical experiments to see about separating good and evil in the human comedian.  From director Percy Pembroke, it’s the 1925 comedy Dr. Pyckel and Mr. Pride.  (And as the movie informs us, the y in Pyckel is pronounced as in dill!)

     Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel both had pretty extensive solo careers in the silent days prior to teaming up for several silent comedies.  Up next is another example of Stan’s solo comedies.  From 1924 it’s West Of Hot Dog.  Stan heads waaaaay out west to attend the reading of his late uncle’s will.  It seems the uncle left everything including, the Last Chance Saloon, to Stan.  Also seems that there are a couple of other nephews – two hard-boiled western bad guys.  And there just happens to be a clause in the will that leaves everything to them if Stan should meet his maker.  Watch for some great special effects when Stan gets shoved out a window.    


     Next up is one of the true masters of timing and pratfalls – Buster Keaton, a man who flawlessly executed perfectly timed stunts to rival or surpass anything filmed in all the years since.     In The Goat, Buster plays a man down on his luck who, through a photographic mix-up, gets mistaken for Dead Shot Dan – a notorious criminal wanted for murder.  Buster, thinking he actually killed a man who he accidentally bumped into and knocked, takes off when the cops start after him.  It’s not stop action with cars, trains, elevators, and a little dog.  Finally, it’s off to outer space in 1902 with George Melies’ classic fantasy A Trip To The Moon.  Lavish sets, great special effects and a moon with a rocket stuck in its eye highlight this example of one of the earliest space travel movies.

     Silent movies, being silent, had no musical soundtrack so when first run, the musical accompaniment was provided live in the theater.  Later releases of the films often included added musical soundtracks.  Some copies of these early films, like our version of A Trip To The Moon, do not include music.  Neither did our “In the Vault” bits include music.  We thought about coming to you houses and playing the accompaniment live, but we figured we couldn’t be in a our viewers houses at once – no one can be in three places at the same time.

     So instead we tapped one of the country’s  best and most prolific composers and performers of contemporary ragtime music – Hiawatha, a close personal friend of UNCLE PETEHiawatha was kind enough to supply us with and grant permission to use some of his compositions as music for our Vault bits and also for A Trip To The Moon, but a small sample of the dozens and dozens and dozens of ragtime tunes he has penned.   


     As an added bit of trivia, watch for the censored bit.  When UNCLE PETE offers El Vato a snack, he utters “Nuts to you”.  This salty language was apparently not allowed by the Board of Dark Vault Silent Censors and was banned from sowing in a title board.  It’s only cuz we’re here on the internet that I can even write these words without any fallout (I hope).  So grab some silent popcorn and prepare for a fun-filled evening, this Saturday night, June 9, 2012, at 10PM on channel 4.  It’s the Silent Movie Spectacular with your host UNCLE PETE on the next DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN!


~ by UNCLE PETE on June 9, 2012.

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