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October 19, 1986

After reading the arguments of the men Ted Turner has employed to colorize old black-and-white films, I realized with a shock that there is another group of films that should not be ignored in the quest to make classic cinema more accessible to the great unwashed: silent movies!

With state-of-the-art recording equipment, those masterpieces of the silent era can be rendered virtually indistinguishable from genuine talkies. After all, we dub foreign films, don't we?

Professional mimics like Rich Little can impersonate stars whose voices later became familiar to us (W. C. Fields, Laurel & Hardy), while the unfortunates who didn't make it in sound can be given the voices everyone always thought they should have.

Think of it: John Gilbert can finally sound as macho as he looks! Dialogue would be supplemented with realistic sound effects--the gunshots in "Birth of a Nation" could be in Sensurround!--and to take the place of the old Wurlitzer, new music tracks could be added by Tangerine Dream.

Most of the films would have to be colorized, too, of course--but some have already been tinted to look better than they would colorized. And certainly not to be ignored is the fact that, by getting rid of those annoying title cards, we add yet another powerful consumer force to our potential audience: the Illiterate!

What do you say, Ted--do we have a deal?



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