Back in the late 1950s, a comedic entertainer named Paul Killiam from New York had the idea of delivering humorous commentary to silent films, something like an early version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In this period, silent films were, for the most part, easy to find and often in the public domain because the studios never bothered to renew the copyright to these films after their 28th year. Killiam had some success with his comedic commentary but he was also a genuine enthusiast of silent film and helped to preserve many films. He broadcast summary versions of many of them with narration in the TV series “Silents, Please!” from 1960-62. During this time network affiliates and independent stations were looking to fill airtime with inexpensively produced content and offerings like “Silents, Please” were popular.
It is a fascinating read full of detective work with various versions which have survived.
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