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Since TCM first went on the air 20 years (plus eight months) ago, in April of 1994, we\'ve made sure that silent films were an integral part of our programming; during our second day in existence, a Friday, one of the films we showed was Garbo\'s non-talker
Love (1927), which--in case it ever comes up in a movie trivia contest-- holds the distinction of being the first silent film to be shown on TCM.
And we didn\'t waste time proving our deep fascination with, and appreciation of, the whole genre of silent movies. It was four days after our launch, during our first Sunday on air, that we premiered the "Silent Sunday Night" franchise, and it\'s been part of TCM ever since--that initial program being a double bill of two great Buster Keaton rib-ticklers, The Cameraman (1928) and Spite Marriage (1929). So, indeed, silent movies have been one of the supreme pleasures of Turner Classic Movies from the very beginning.
Also, during the past 20 years, many of our "Star of the Month" tributes have been in honor of titans of the silent screen era, such as Garbo (three times for Greta) and others whose first names aren\'t necessary: Chaplin, Pickford, Chaney, Lloyd, Laurel and Hardy. But during this month of November 2014, for the very first time, we\'re going a step further to salute not just one or two silent screen giants, but a whole platoon of legends from that bygone era which so comfortably existed on screen before, as Norma Desmond declared in Sunset Blvd. (1950), unable to disguise her disgust, "words, words, words" came along, with which writers "made a rope of words and strangled the (movie) business!" And as Norma further declared, "We didn\'t need dialogue. We had faces."
Each of the stars we\'ll be bringing you--with their magnificent faces and not a single audible word strangling them or the silent world they ruled--will be seen in one of their most iconic feature films, such as Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in his eye-popping Arabian Nights spectacle The Thief of Bagdad (1924); 34-year-old veteran Ronald Colman and lanky 25-year-old newcomer Gary Cooper in the Western so exquisitely photographed (by Gregg Toland and George Barnes), The Winning of Barbara Worth (1926); Clara Bow unleashing her considerable and undeniable appeal that no one could adequately define, so they called it It (1927); Lon Chaney in great need of TLC and a Florida vacation as a mistreated circus clown who suffers angst and humiliation in the classic love story He Who Gets Slapped (1924).
That\'s but the tip of the iceberg, on Mondays all month long. Our salute on November 3 will be to the great women of silent films (including Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, Lillian Gish, Marion Davies, Alla Nazimova); on November 10, the spotlight will be on the men (among them John Gilbert and Ramon Novarro); on November 17, it\'s child stars from that era, also sisters and the only two performers who won Academy Awards® for their work in silent films (Janet Gaynor, Emil Jannings); and on November 24, it\'s a tip of the hat to the great clowns of that time. Please excuse any noise we make on the subject, but we do think it\'s something well worth shouting about.
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