HOLLYWOOD: A Celebration of the American Silent Film

Hollywood DVDThe Thames TV documentary series HOLLYWOOD: A Celebration of the American Silent Film, by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, was begun thirty years ago. It is out of print, and nowhere to be found that I can see, except for scattered VHS copies for sale. A 4-disc DVD edition that had been planned apparently never went into production, and there is no tentative release date for it.

I am considering posting the complete HOLLYWOOD series, transferred from LaserDisc video. The earliest I would be able to begin doing this is mid-April. If you’re someone who would be interested in seeing this — or you would like to prevent me from putting the series online — please add a comment or drop me a note at the address on my “Contact” page. Thanks.

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Blog of Douglas E. Pratt

75 thoughts on “HOLLYWOOD: A Celebration of the American Silent Film”

  1. Phil – There are currently very good transfers of the series from LaserDisc on YouTube, posted by “Hollywood Silent Film.” Only episode 4, “Hollywood Goes to War,” is missing. I will post it here very soon.

  2. Hi Doug:

    Just stumbled on to this page. Any chance you’ll post “Hollywood” again?

    Many thanks for your attention.

  3. Steve – Tell ya what. I’ll give you a link you can right-click to download the FLV file. Watch this space!

    7/20/15: I will be taking the link down SOON!

  4. Hi

    I have all episodes of this fantastic series apart from Ep 12. Is there any way this could be posted or accessed?



  5. Oh no! Have you taken the “Hollywood” series down? I was only halfway through! Could you perhaps make them available again??

  6. Great news! How do I find it? I only find postings from BentoJoaoAntonio. I assume yours will be better quality although the BentoJoaoAntonio postings are pretty good.

  7. By all means, post it. It’s been posted already by someone else. In the case of this series, I don’t think it can be posted enough. It’s criminal that this series is indefinitely shelved for DVD release. Every person who has ever watched a movie – any movie – needs to see how it all began. This series is invaluable for so many reasons – primarily, the marvelous interviews with the men and women who were there and helped create HOLLYWOOD and it’s wonderful output of films. A series as unique, thorough and entertaining as this one needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

    And one more thing…the success of the recent film “The Artist” will, hopefully, spark an interest in silent film amongst the general public and, hopefully, this series will FINALLY be released on DVD and Blu-Ray.

  8. Carlos – Most of the series is on YouTube. See BentoJoaoAntonio’s channel. My presentation is, I think, better overall, and the fact that YouTube hasn’t pulled the videos yet has me considering, yet again, making the Hollywood page available again. We’ll see.

  9. It is such a pity, after Brownlow and Gill’s careful preservation and selection of the old movies, the interviews with the people involved just before they’d die, to have to see this incredible doc on Youtube, or buy it in VHS. I know that the problems of copyright keep DVD release projects stagnant. I don’t have Laser Disc. I’ve seen the quality, though, and it looks very good indeed. Oh, it would be so wonderful for you to share your files. Thanks.

  10. I realize this is only a month and a half since the last post but is there any update on a DVD release or on any of the Laser Disc transfers being currently available?

  11. Hi – I’ve been looking for this series as it had an enormous interest for me in the 80’s. What a pity they won’t release it. I would love to see them all again. Great to see so many people with the same interest.

  12. Mike – yes, I had the entire series online, but pulled it because my old web hosting service told me I’d used too much of my “unlimited” storage and they were going to shut me down. I spent an entire weekend moving to a new web host, and the experience was so stressful/painful that it still puts my heart into arrhythmia just thinking about it.

    After the move I didn’t restore the Hollywood series because I started to worry about lawyers knocking at my door. Since then, I have seen that the pieces of it on YouTube aren’t going away, so it seems the various copyright holders who are hassling Brownlow about the DVD set aren’t so concerned they’re preventing online presentations.

    I’m not YouTube/Google. I’m just a guy who blogs. My site has no ads, and I don’t have a PayPal clicker. I want none of that! I want to do what I want to do and not owe anybody anything. However, I am sensitive to the pitfall of posting something that crosses the line from helping to promote something I like — new CD’s and books, etc. — to making something available that prevents somebody else from buying something. It’s classic case of what’s “fair use,” what’s in the public domain, and what isn’t?

    Is “Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film” in release? No. There’s no DVD set. There are used VHS and LD copies, and that’s it. I have seen homemade DVD sets available on iOffer, and I have no idea what source material was used, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my 512×384 FLV files have been used for these pirated copies.

    Copies of a ‘Hollywood’ installment I made by going directly from a Pioneer LD player into a Panasonic DVD recorder are indistinguishable from the original. It would be easy to make copies of those on my desktop computer and indeed I’ve been offered money by quite a few people. But if there is one thing I absolutely, definitely won’t do is distribute copies on DVD. That is, to me, crossing the line. If I did that somebody else would undoubtedly start making their own copies and sell them on ioffer.com. I’m here as a fan, and not to help entrepreneurs.

    Anyway, having said all of that, I am considering posting the series again. The fact that nobody is challenging the YouTube posts carries a lot of weight with me. The difference with my transfers is that each file is a complete installment that can be watched without interruption. I know that Kevin Brownlow wishes very much for the Hollywood series to be released, and what I wish I could do is talk to Brownlow and have him say, “I appreciate your interest, but you really don’t want to do that.” I’d feel much less unsettled over the matter. As I’ve said before, I think TCM should step in and see what can be done.

  13. Did you ever put this series up on the web? If so please send me the link as I agree with all the other correspondents – it is one of the best documentary series ever shown on TV and should be required viewing for anyone interested in the early film industry.

  14. As many others, I came to this site a tad too late to see Doug’s postings, but I hope Micheal keeps at it because this documentary is an invaluable treasure.

  15. Michael — FYI… Microsoft Security Essentials reports a threat when attempting to install the player.

    “Security Essentials detected programs that may compromise your privacy or damage your computer. You can still access the files that these programs use without removing them (not recommended). To access these files, select the Allow action and click Apply actions. If this option is not available, log on as administrator or ask the security administrator for help.”

  16. O.K
    cheers…for all Brownlow devotees to enjoy!!

  17. Michael – Thanks for the praise. As I’ve said before, it would be easy for me to post all 13 installments of the series, but knowing of the legal hassles that have prevented the DVD set from being released, I want to avoid the risk of getting a cease and desist letter from a lawyer.

    I agree with you very much, that the Brownlow and Gill series would be a great way to grow the limited market for silent movies. And it is indeed a crime that so much material isn’t even being salvaged and stabilized, let alone restored.

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