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For a feeling of what the silents were really like, look for the version of this film with Gaylord Carter performing the score on a Wurlitzer Theater Organ. Carter recorded this version in the 1980's when he was in his 80's. Amazing performance - basically 120 minutes of live, somewhat improvised music with establihed themes for each character. Incidental music was improvised live combining themes from the various characters.
Carter was one of the last musicians that performed during the silent era. Very few musicians understand how difficult this art form was, and Gaylor was one of the best. Each showing of the film was an original, never before heard version due to the improvisational nature of the music. The stamina required to play live music, on 3, 4 or even 5 keyboards with a pedal board and dozens of stops, thousands of pipes for over two hours cannot be overstated. Especially when one of these performers were expected to do so 3 or more times a day!
Orchestras are all well and good, but few theaters could afford them - Wurlitzer (and a few other companies) sold 40,000 instruments to theaters world wide during the 20's, and chances are, 90% of screenings of this film were accompanied by a theater organ.
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