HEY MAN, IS THAT THE SILENT MOVIE SPECTACULAR? WELL. TURN IT UP!!!
Time to dust off those voices in your head, cuz they’ll be the only ones you’ll hear in this week’s DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN. Join UNCLE PETE this Saturday night for the Silent Movie Spectacular featuring 5 films 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 78 rpm record (that’s kind of a big CD with sound on 2 sides and no shiny part), 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 and El Vato have been transported back to those thrilling silent days. And in sepia-tone!
The first installment features one of the kings of the early days of cinematic comedies, Charlie Chaplin, in The Tramp. It follows the trials and tribulations of a good-hearted wandering bum-type guy as he travels down life’s road – with a lot of slapstick and wacky hi-jinx. Next up is Stan Laurel before he teamed up with Oliver Hardy. We find Stan in 19th century England doing some experiments to separate good and evil in the human comedian in the 1925’s Dr. Pyckel and Mr. Pride. (And as the movie informs us, the “y” in Pyckel is pronounced as in dill!)
Up next is another 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. His uncle left everything (including the Last Chance Saloon) to Stan, but the other nephews – two hard-boiled western bad guys – find 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.
UNCLE PETE also has one from a true master 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 really killed a man he accidentally knocked down, 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 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 nor did our “In the Vault” bits. We thought about coming to your houses and playing the accompaniment live. But since we couldn’t be in all our viewers houses at once (no one can be in three places at the same time), 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 PETE. Hiawatha was kind enough to grant us permission to use some of his compositions as music for our Vault bits and for A Trip To The Moon – representing but a small sample of the dozens and dozens and dozens of ragtime tunes he has penned. So, thanks Hiawatha!
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 showing 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, January 11, 2014 from 10PM to midnight on channel 4. It’s the Silent Movie Spectacular with your host UNCLE PETE on the next DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN!