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Kevin Brownlow's Hollywood (1980)

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myrnaloyisdope
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Kevin Brownlow's Hollywood (1980)

Postby myrnaloyisdope » July 9th, 2008, 7:37 pm

Well I just finished watching this last night. I watched all 13 1-episodes in a couple of days, and with good reason. This is an incredible, indispensable, fascinating, and glorious documentary.

For those who don't know, Hollywood is basically the history of silent film in the US. The series follows it from it's beginning to to it's end covering an incredible amount of ground. The fact that Brownlow was able to incorporate clips from virtually every major film, and tons of minor ones is a miracle, given how many different companies hold the rights.

Another great thing about the series is the incredible variety of people interviewed ranging from Gloria Swanson, Colleen Moore, and King Vidor to Allan Dwan, Louise Brooks, and Anita Loos. Actors, actresses, stuntmen, cameramen, writers, critics, directors, producers and the occasional relative are all interviewed at length to give a wonderful picture of the silent era. Thankfully the series was filmed throughout the 70's so many of these wonderful people were still around to tell their stories.

It's absolutely wonderful to hear Gloria Swanson talk about the perils of filming with a lion, and to listen to old stuntman Harvey Parry dissect the different types of pratfalls that make up comedy.

It's incredible the amount of obscure footage that was compiled for this series ranging from wardrobe tests for Birth of a Nation to a promotional film of Marion Davies cleaning her apartment.

Oh and it's narrated by James Mason.

It's an absolutely incredible achievement, and tragically due to rights issues it probably won't be released on DVD.

I bought from a seller online, and I recommend you do the same.

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » July 9th, 2008, 7:58 pm

myrnaloyisdope,

:) How much did the seller charge you? Were the DVD-R's made from VHS, or Laser-disc. Mine are from Laser-disc, which is much better than any VHS would look like. Did the seller design elaborate menu's for every chapter like I have? You could have gotten this from me!

:o Yes, HOLLYWOOD is fabulous, but so is CINEMA EUROPE and the other Brownlow-Gill-Stansbury documentaries that followed.

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Postby myrnaloyisdope » July 9th, 2008, 8:06 pm

Hi I payed 25 dollars for the series, it's from a VHS dub, and was very basic in it's presentation. But the content outweighs everything.

I did watch Cinema Europe and that was great too.

I now want to see more of his docs.

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » July 9th, 2008, 8:46 pm

myrnaloyisdope,

You got the entire series for just $25.00? You were very fortunate, I have frequently seen this series in both the out of print VHS, and Laser-disc editions go for well over $150.00 on Ebay, and eleswhere!

The Harold Lloyd stuff was misleading, as this was later cleared up in THE THIRD GENIUS. Harrvy Perry was doubled in some of the long shots on the real building's in FEET FIRST, but not on SAFETY LAST. LLoyd still did 95% of his own stunts, even withonly three fingures on one hand.

The other documentaries from Thames/Photo-play Productions I have are UNKNOWN CHAPLIN (Thames, 1983) Note this is on DVD from A&E Home Video.

BUSTER KEATON: A HARD AT TO FOLLOW (Thames, 1987) This has been released on DVD, but only in the UK. My copy is from Laser-disc.

HAROLD LLOYD: THE THIRD GENIUS (Thames, 1989) Like the other two this used to air on TCM from Time to time. It has been released on VHS, but not DVD. My recording is from TCM.

D. W. GRIFFITH: FATHER OF FILM (1990) Thames/Photo-play Productions. Not on DVD. Used to air on TCM.

I have about 4 or 5 more, including another on Keaton SO FUNNY IT HURT BUSTER AT MGM, and LON CHANEY: A THOUSAND FACES (2001).


I am missing CECIL B. DE MILLE: AMERICAN EPIC.

Are you interested in any of the ones that I do have?
Last edited by Gagman 66 on July 9th, 2008, 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Lzcutter » July 9th, 2008, 10:35 pm

Myrna,

Hollywood is an incredible documentary. The debt that we as filmbuffs owe to Kevin Brownlow, David Gill and David Shepard for this magnificent series can never be repaid.

That they had the ability and the backing to sit down and capture the histories of our cinematic pioneers both behind the screen and in front says a great deal about their dedication.

I continue to believe that one of these days the rights issues will get worked out and this magnificent series will finally come to DVD.

The most important thing is that you got to see a wonderful documentary done with care about a subject that too rarely gets the spotlight.

I would recommend as companion pieces any documentary by Brownlow. David Shepard works mainly behind the scenes on restoration while Brownlow still makes documentaries as well as work on restorations. David Gill died many years ago and Brownlow's new business partner is Patrick Stansbury.

Brownlow's books on the history of silents are quite good and I have really enjoyed reading "The War, the West and the Wilderness".

Another good series is Richard Schickel's series "The Men Who Made the Movies". Back in the 1970s,. Schickel sat down and did extensive interviews with Hitchcock, Ford, Minelli and Capra as well as personal faves Wild Bill Wellman, Raoul Walsh and Howard Hawks among a a few others as I recall. These episodes show up on TCM frequently.
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Postby Gagman 66 » July 9th, 2008, 11:13 pm

Lynn, Myrna,

:? Like THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES which was originally produced back in 1973, I would cherish seeing all the footage used in HOLLYWOOD all digitally remastered.

:) Hopefully, TCM will start running the series again when this happens? They used to have the rights, but it probably hasn't been shown since at least 2002. It would probably need to be re-mastered to some extent for DVD anyway.

:D HOLLYWOOD leaves a lasting impresion on the viewer, and makes one very anxious to see as many films as possible that were mentioned in the series for themselves. From the stirring opening credit design, to arl Davis incompraable title theme you are swept into the wonderful ygone days of the great silent Cinema. Since this series was produced between 1975-1979, several of the films once considered to be lost have resurfaced.

:) One of the first Clips we see from THE FIRE BRIGADE (MGM, 1927), a long forgotten feature starring Charles Ray, and May McAvoy, one is left with a sense of shere awe and wonder! This is not what the novice envisions when they think of Silent pictures. The viewer is startled, than enraptured within minutes! I still wonder why Warner's has yet to restore this rarely seen film? It just looks amazing.

Kevin Brownlow and David Gill spent a whopping 4 years in production, and nothing this impressive, and elaborate as a tribute to the age of Silent film had ever been attempted by anyone before!

:o It is kind of sad that Major Stars such as Mary Pickford, and Corinne Griffith who were both alive when production begain declined to lend their voices to the series. Still the list of those who did contribute is very notable, and we should be thankful that they were a part of this collosal undertaking!

:cry: When I first saw this in 1981 on PBS, admittedly I wept over the final comments, the masterful Carl Davis music, and the dying footage, from Douglas Fairbanks THE IRON MASK (1929), how could one not be greatly moved by the experience? Truly something I will always remember with a genuine foundness of heart!
Last edited by Gagman 66 on July 10th, 2008, 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby charliechaplinfan » July 10th, 2008, 1:27 pm

It is simply the best series I have ever seen. Also very enjoyable is Kevin Brownlow's book The Parade's Gone By.

How strange that A Hard Act To Follow has only been released on region 2. Buster Keaton hasn't got a massive following here. Still we have to be grateful it's been released at all.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

drednm

Postby drednm » July 10th, 2008, 6:58 pm

I thought I had this Brownlow series but I can't find it

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Gagman 66
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Postby Gagman 66 » July 10th, 2008, 7:07 pm

Ed,

:? I am quite sure I sent you Thames HOLLYWOOD, but I can always send it again? Let me know if you can find it or not? I thought you told me that you had watched some of the Chapters once? Do you have CINEMA EUROPE, and the Lloyd Documentary?

drednm

Postby drednm » July 10th, 2008, 8:13 pm

I'll keep looking.... I have the others

drednm

Postby drednm » July 10th, 2008, 8:14 pm

Yes I watched it, just can't find it

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Postby MichiganJ » July 11th, 2008, 8:10 am

These are most of Brownlow's/Photoplay's film documentaries and what I know of their availability in the U.S. Needless to say, they are all brilliant.
Hollywood: A Celebration of American Silent Film, 1980 (currently unavailable on DVD, was available on Laserdisc and Home Video)

Unknown Chaplin, 1983 (available on DVD)

Buster Keaton: A Hard Act To Follow, 1987 (currently unavailable on DVD, was available on Laserdisc and Home Video)

Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius, 1989 (currently unavailable on DVD, was available Home Video)

D. W. Griffith: Father of Film, 1993 (currently unavailable on DVD, was available on Home Video)

Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood, 1995 (was available on DVD)

Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces, 2000 (Included in the Lon Chaney Collection DVD set distributed by Warner Home Video

Demille: American Epic, 2004, (Made for TCM, unknown distribution)

Garbo, 2005 (Included in the Garbo - The Signature Collection DVD set distributed by Warner Home Video)

I’m King Kong!: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper (Included in the two-disc special edition of King Kong distributed by Warner Home Video)
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drednm

Postby drednm » July 11th, 2008, 8:41 am

great info... thanks!!

Kevin is currently working on a BIRTH OF A NATION project for the British Film Instiitute but I don't know exactly what's he's doing. I assume it's a documentary since Thames already produced a great version of the film (with a score based on original music).

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Postby coopsgirl » July 15th, 2008, 1:46 pm

Thanks to Jeff, I got to see the Hollywood series and it’s just amazing! The part that really got me was Viola Dana talking about her boyfriend who was a stunt pilot (can’t remember his name) who was killed doing a stunt for a movie. You could really tell how much she loved him and how much it still hurt to talk about it. It was very touching and brought me to tears. Heck, it’s making me a little misty now just remembering it. :cry:

It was wonderful to see the people who were actually involved with those movies (actors and crew members) and hear their memories about it.

My favorite part was getting to see a little clip of Gary Cooper and Clara Bow in Children of Divorce. They are my two favorite actors and two of my favorite people and it was the first time I had actually seen them on film together. He had bit parts in Wings and It, but they weren’t seen on screen together in either one of those. During the clip, Clara is lying down and Gary is standing next to her wondering what she’s doing in his bed :shock: . She reaches up and takes his hand and I got goosebumps all over to see my two faves actually in the same shot together and touching. Maybe I’m weird, but I thought it was really neat. :D

The stuff about how they did all the effects in Ben-Hur was really interesting too and I think those effects look as good if not better than the CGI stuff of today. I like knowing that something is really there, it’s tangible like a hanging miniature or a Ray Harryhausen type creature.
“I never really thought of myself as an actor. But I’d learned to ride on my dad’s ranch and I could do some roping stunts and working as an extra was better than starving as an artist nobody wanted on the West Coast.” - Gary Cooper

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Postby Gagman 66 » July 18th, 2008, 1:30 am

Angie,

:) Hey, it's wonderful that you have finally decided to join us here on SSO! Welcome! Very happy that you enjoyed the HOLLYWOOD documentary. Have you seen CINEMA EUROPE yet?


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