The Big Parade of Comedy (1964)
Narrator: [Opening lines] How many remember Town Hall, ablazed with lights and wonderous posters heralding "Moving Pictures Tonight", in a time long past, when movies visited your town, instead of living there.
Narrator: When the house was full, all would come magically aright. The hand-cranked projector would fall into its rhythmic whirl. The film would unwind. Up on the screen a faster, funnier world would unfold. A silent world of unbelievably swift action, which no one got tired - of terrible violence, in which no one got hurt. Early fans demanded movies that moved.
Narrator: By the 20s, the silent motion picture had reached its golden age. Hollywood had become the world center of glamour. Stars like John Gilbert arriving in style at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio gate, were among the most famous people on earth. Beyond the gates, an amazing and self-contained factory of the arts, capable of turning our 50 feature films a year in this era of Coolidge and prosperity.
Narrator: Nearby, in the dress shop, the first faint glow of a star to be: Lucille LeSueur - who was to be renamed Joan Crawford, pose for her first movie, a costume test. Within three years, she was a star. She is still a star, nearly 40 years later.
Narrator: The moving camera had into vogue for movies that could do almost anything but talk.
Narrator: [Showing a dressing room scene from 1925's "Pretty Ladies"] Sharp eyes may glimpse Joan Crawford, who has graduated from costume model to bit player. There she is, big-eyed and beautiful.
Narrator: Made in the middle of the jazz age, a metro comedy called "The Boob" - gave a wonderful, wacky, Hollywood view of the American Speakeasy. This Speak is lined with books, but notice those 100 proof titles. In the picture, the book lovers club was located, not in New York or Miami, but in the exotic outskirts of Modesty, Massachusetts. Joan Crawford, already advanced to feature roles, played a prohibition agent, sent to discover why business had fallen off at the local soda fountain. While Joan plotted to get her hooks on the crooks' books, the floor show began.
Narrator: The immortal stone face, Buster Keaton, patiently awaits a call from his girl in "The Cameraman" - one of the last of the great sight gag comedies. Buster suddenly realizes he lacks the essence of every date. The one thing no Sheik can be without: Money!
Narrator: [Referring to Buster Keaton] When Keaton ran, his whole body appeared in violent motion, all but his head and sad face - that remained in frozen repose.
Narrator: Stars William Haines and Marion Davies leave the theater and run into an autograph hound in the lobby. Although Marion pretends not to know him, nearly everybody in 1928 recognized Charlie Chaplin - minus derby, moustache, cane and baggy pants.
Singers: [singing] Jean, oh, Jean. Platinum blonde movie queen... Tough, yet tender. Wise, but ready to fall. When stars were bright, you were the brightest of all. Jean, oh, Jean.
Narrator: Great stars come one of a kind. Harlow has had no substitute.
Narrator: 1936, in "Suzy" Jean was co-starred with charming, durable Cary Grant, of whom it has been said: he was a man when we were boys; now that we are men, he's a boy.
Narrator: Out of the distance, bubbles an inspired team who's grip on movie immortality becomes stronger with each passing year: Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Narrator: In "Hollywood Party", as King Kong was later to meet Godzilla, Laurel and Hardy met Lupe Vélez - the Mexican spitfire.
Narrator: Stan and Ollie display the distinctive, awkward grace that seems to belong to all great clowns.
Narrator: Hollywood's first box office king in nationwide polls, was Clark Gable - as popular with men as with women, as adept at comedy, as romance.
Narrator: In "Philadelphia Story", a polite comedy of 1940, a later and still current box office king, Cary Grant, began the picture by ending his marriage. The bride, no longer to be, is queenly Katharine Hepburn.
Narrator: Humorist Robert Benchley amused audiences of the 30s and 40s with the fumblings of the average man. In "That Inferior Feeling", Bench registering at a hotel with his wife of 20 years displayed the savoir faire of a white slaver - caught in the act by the FBI.
Narrator: "The Thin Man" brought together Myrna Loy and William Powell - as Nora and Nick Charles - in a film so good it sired a series and so sophisticated it seems modern, in all but costumes, 30 years later.
Narrator: In "Meet the People", beautiful Lucille Ball shows how little she has changed since 1944 LBL: Long Before Lucy.
Narrator: The words: Garbo Laughs - heralded "Ninotchka", the picture with everything.