In THE DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN, UNCLE PETE and El Vato don’t need to speak to get into trouble and this week they prove it as we present the Silent Movie Spectacular.  For those of you not familiar with the time of silent movies, here’s a little background.  Prior to the late 1920’s, people hadn’t yet learned how to record 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.  Strangely, even though we can now record any sound and send our voices all around the world and out into space and back, many people have reverted to this primitive method of posting signs to communicate with people instead of talking and they call it texting.

Well anyway, this Saturday, UNCLE PETE and El Vato will head back to those thrilling silent days and take you with them.  And in sepia-tone!


The first installment features one of the kings of early comedies, Charlie Chaplin, in The Tramp.  It follows 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 teaming with Oliver Hardy.  Stan’s in 19th century England experimenting to separate good and evil in 1925’s Dr. Pyckel and Mr. Pride.  (And as the movie informs us, the “y” in Pyckel is pronounced as in dill!).  Next is another of Stan’s solo comedies from 1924 – West Of Hot Dog.  Stan heads waaaaay out west to claim his late uncle’s estate including the Last Chance Saloon.  But the other nephews – two hard-boiled western bad guys – learn that 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 the 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 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 non-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 had no musical soundtracks, so 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 3 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 PETEHiawatha 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, March 21, 2015 from 10PM to midnight on channel 4 Binghamton, channel 99 (Hornell/Elmira/Corning), and channel 17 (Sayre/Montrose).  It’s the Silent Movie Spectacular – our first show of Spring – with your host UNCLE PETE on the next DARK VAULT OF PUBLIC DOMAIN!


~ by UNCLE PETE on March 20, 2015.


  1. I am a HUGE silent movie fan, and fan of silent comedy. Are these all on public domain, like I have to look. I hoped The Artist would have brought more interest to these gems. You should, if you haven’t, read Kevin Brownlow’s The Parade’s Gone By….one of the best books on silent films ever.

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