No doubt we've come to a point in our culture where the concept of films being silent as an art form registers a complete blank with most people. Those who have heard about them usually recall dim, grainy images, melodramatic stories, over-acting and sped-up action.
But early on in this last century, Silent Films were the wonders of modern technology and the people who made them and the actors who played in them were revered and idolized as much, if not more, than most pop stars today. Anybody who has seen a Silent Film presented in the way it was in the day realizes it was an art form that was taken seriously and it set the ground rules for film-making for decades.
Unfortunately, a lot of the films of the period haven't survived. Lost, destroyed, damaged beyond repair. And even in the early 1950's a movement began to preserve these films and to pay tribute to the people who made them.
In 1957 Eastman House, the largest most comprehensive archive of film and photography of its kind paid tribute to four of the most popular stars of the period still living; Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Janet Gaynor and Harold Lloyd. And as part of his weekly radio program, Mitch Miller (as in "Sing Along With . . .") devoted his entire show to an interview with these stars.
All of them are gone and few of them actually did interviews to any great extent before this. Its an interesting glimpse into a period of time long gone celebrating an aspect of our culture long forgotten.
Further evidence Popular Culture is not forever.