Amazingly enough, the public’s interest in silent films is making a comeback. Many of these older films have been digitally premastered for re-release and according to sales statistics, the companies marketing them are doing so quite profitably. This renewed interest has given new life to this historical art form providing an opportunity for all to share in the glory of early silent films. The difference extends beyond ticket sales and into film production as well. By the late 1920’s, Hollywood was releasing a thousand movies a year; in 2006, the average was down to 600.
The prominent figure that we all know as Charlie Chaplin was one of the famous clown-style actors of the silent era. It was through Charlie Chaplin that Hollywood comedy movies became famous. Soon came Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. They used dialogues by comedians such as W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. Charlie Chaplin was the last comedian to have acted in a silent film, and his films during 1930s were without dialogue, although they did employ sound effects. Another development in Hollywood comedy movies was the use of gross humor, which is usually aimed at the younger audience, in films like, there’s something about Mary, American Pie and many more. This trend of gross movies continued with adult oriented comedies picking up the box office for some time more.
And unlike watching a movie with sound, where one would have to be quiet in order to hear the characters spoken lines, audiences would talk softly further enhancing the social aspect of attending these silent films. The most popular Hollywood comedy movies were of John Hughes, which included Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the Home Alone series of 1990s. The latter focused more on a family audience. That showed a revival in comedy movies. Spoof comedy movies have remained popular till date. Amongst the leading figures of this time were Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. They wrote, directed and appeared in their own movies.