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  • Ah, THIS series takes me back to my childhood!

    Ernie Kovacs, television's first true Renaissance Man, was not only a gifted actor, comedian, musician, and writer, but also was an unabashed fan of silent film, and he created "Silents Please" to share his love with a generation who had never experienced films without sound.

    Sponsored by Muriel Cigars (remember Kovacs' wife, Edie Adams, bumping and grinding, while whispering, "Why don't you pick one up, and SMOKE it, some time?"), Kovacs would appear, in the same library setting he'd utilize for many of his comedy sketches, smoke a cigar, and introduce the evening's silent feature, in much the same manner as Bob Dorian would later do for American Movie Classics, and Robert Osborne, for Turner Classic Movies. Occasionally, a guest would join him to offer their insights, but this was really his segment, and his pleasure in discussing the featured film was obvious.

    The films would, by necessity, be edited, and, in place of narration 'cards', writer/producer/film historian Paul Killiam would provide commentary, where necessary.

    Unlike Jay Ward's "Fractured Flickers" (which people often confuse with "Silents Please"), no attempts to satirize the films were made (surprising many critics, expecting to find Kovacs' famous wit more in evidence). With it's straightforward approach, the series was far ahead of it's time.

    With Kovacs' tragic death in a car accident, in early 1962, "Silents Please" would only have a limited television run, but it is fondly remembered!
  • Seeing examples of silent, or "Old Time", movies on television was not an uncommon sight in the 40's and 50's. Most any local and network kiddie shows would feature 1 and 2 reel comedies featuring the likes of Snub Pollard, Harry Langdon, the Tons of Funs, Chaplin, Our Gang and Mickey(Himself) McGuire. The problem was that most were savagely edited down and sans the Title Cards. This rendered them difficult to follow, sometimes, seemingly senseless.

    Then, in 1960, SILENTS PLEASE appeared on ABC Television Network. What a relief this was. The series was a brilliantly conceived and executed half hour. Each episode centered itself on a particular artist or sometimes a particular silent feature such as Keaton's THE GENERAL or The YANKEE CLIPPER. There was always plenty of background information supplied by the excellent narration of Mr. Paul Killian. The series whetted the curiosity, ultimately leading to viewing the full length films.

    One thing, though if this writer's memory is correct, SILENTS PLEASE was re-broadcast the following year. It was slotted on Thursday as a Summer replacement for Ernie Kovacs' TAKE A GOOD LOOK game show spoof. It was at this time that Mr. Kovacs hosted the episodes as an in studio M.C. He would have a short commentary, always delivered in his super relaxed, laid back manner. He was also prominent in the award winning commercials of sponsor, the makers of Dutch Masters and Muriel cigars. These were written and produced by Ernie Kovacs, and were among the most entertaining on TV.
  • nataloff-115 September 2006
    Many of the "Silents, Please" episodes turned up -- sans Kovacs -- retitled as "The History of the Motion Picture" and were made available to public libraries in the 1960s. All footage was public domain. They were released on VHS in 1997 from Critics' Choice Video in transfers made from old ragtag prints, some with spliced-in "History of the Motion Picture" snipes, and others retaining their "Silents, Please!" titles. Alas, they must have been assembled from whatever was in Paul Killiam's and Saul J. Turrell's basements; one of them was even transferred without sound -- ironic, to be sure, but also very sloppy. As wonderful as we remember these shows to have been -- and, indeed, they introduced a whole young generation to the joy of silent cinema -- they don't date well, especially with the arrival of archivists like Kino Video who rescue and restore films.
  • I remember this well from its original run.It was shown 3 times a month(can't remember which day of the week)with the fourth week consisting of Ernie Kovac's comedy skits.The Dutch Masters commercials were as entertaining as the show.One episode I remember was titled "The Fun Factory" about the Mack Sennet Studio. One film they showed part of was "The Bangville Police', prototype of the Keystone Kops.I thought that Ernie Kovacs did the narration that replaced the titles, and explained what was going on, but I may be mistaken. I have always thought that adding narration to silent films was a good idea,and helps to clear up sometimes vague plots.
  • I was about six when I saw this show, but it remains very vivid. The other reviews here mention the basic concept of the series - each episode would tackle a celebrated film or personality of the silent movie period.

    At the beginning one hears a strident voice saying, "SILENTS PLEASE". It would then mention "the laughters, the tears, the excitement, and the heartbreak of Hollywood's golden era." Laughter they showed Chaplin, tears was Pickford, excitement was Fairbanks, and the heartbreak (ironically) was John Gilbert - a commentary of a great film career that just failed to carry over to sound movies. Episodes dealt with INTOLERANCE, or Keaton (I first saw the scene from COPS! where Buster lights a cigarette with a spluttering "anarchist" bomb on SILENTS PLEASE). I also recall seeing a half-hour version of John Barrymore's 1920 film version of DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE on SILENTS PLEASE.

    The series was very fine, but I regret that I cannot recall seeing the series with Ernie Kovacs as host. Possibly I may have been seeing a truncated version on channel 11, re-cut to avoid the sequences with Kovacs after his death in 1962. But that I recall it after nearly half a century shows how good the series really was.
  • bensonj14 January 2008
    I remember this as a wonderful show that was respectful to silent films, chose great examples, and did a great job of trimming them to fit that half-hour time-frame, with narration that was good and not overpowering. I particularly remember a segment about the Sargasso sea as being visually stunning (probably ISLE OF LOST SHIPS).

    Like other commenters here, I remembered the show first without Kovaks and then with Kovaks. According to THE COMPLETE DIRECTORY TO PRIME TIME NETWORK TV SHOWS by Brooks and Marsh, "Silents Please" ran from August to October 1960, with no on-screen host. It was then replaced by the Kovaks' show "Take a Good Look," which ran until March 1961, at which time "Silents Please" again took over the slot and ran through October 1961, this time with Kovaks as host.