Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Produced for Britain's Thames television in 1979, Hollywood is a 13-part overview of the silent film era, lovingly assembled by historian Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. Each episode runs one hour, and each concentrates on a separate aspect of the art of the silent cinema. Chapter titles include "The Pioneers," "Single Beds and Double Standards," "Swanson and Valentino" and "Comedy: A Serious Business." In addition to interviews from such silent-movie veterans as Lillian Gish, Allan Dwan, Viola Dana, William Wellman, Karl Brown, Colleen Moore, King Vidor and Blanche Sweet, each episode of Hollywood is distinguished by rare, lengthy filmclips, many in pristine condition. The symphonic background music by Carl Davis superbly evokes the 1910s and 1920s without ever stooping to tinkly-piano cliches. The release of Hollywood was accompanied by the publication of a coffee-table book, also the handiwork of Brownlow and Gill. In 1988, a feature-length version of Hollywood was made available for syndication.