Hollywood (1980– )
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The glorious, tragic, and truncated careers of American silent stars like John Gilbert, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Greta Garbo are highlighted.




Episode credited cast:
James Mason ... Himself - Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Cedric Belfrage Cedric Belfrage ... Himself
Eleanor Boardman ... Herself
Louise Brooks ... Herself
Clarence Brown ... Himself - 1969 interview (archive footage)
Gary Cooper ... (archive footage)
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Himself
Leatrice Joy Gilbert ... Herself (as Leatrice Gilbert Fountain)
Elinor Glyn ... (archive footage)
Leatrice Joy ... Herself
Samuel Marx Samuel Marx ... Himself (as Sam Marx)
Charles 'Buddy' Rogers ... Himself
Adela Rogers St. Johns ... Herself
King Vidor ... Himself


The glorious, tragic, and truncated careers of American silent stars like John Gilbert, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Greta Garbo are highlighted.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

25 March 1980 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Thames Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

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Did You Know?


[last lines]
Leatrice Joy: And he was always an enigma. I never solved him; I wished I had! Many people I guess had been likened to mercury but Jack Gilbert was mercury - you touch him and he'd vanish.
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Features Love 'Em and Leave 'Em (1926) See more »


Merry Widow Waltz
Composed by Franz Lehár (1905)
Instrumental version heard during "The Merry Widow" clip
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User Reviews

How NOT to be a long-term top Hollywood star.
13 October 2014 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This episode focuses on the fleeting fame of Hollywood during the silent and early sound era. Instead of focusing on the big-name stars who stayed on top, the show focuses on two actors--Clara Bow and John Gilbert. This is because for a time, both were the most successful and popular in the field--yet were all but washed up by the early 1930s. It discusses their successes, their failures and offers a few suggestions as to why they ultimately imploded.

I appreciate this episode for a variety of reasons. The first is that too often documentaries focus on the mega-stars and ignore the examples where stars do NOT fit nicely into stardom. The second is that the film did a better than usual job in explaining John Gilbert's fall, as too often folks just say 'he had a lousy voice and couldn't make the transition to sound'--even though this clearly was NOT true. Instead, the roots of his adversarial relationship with studio boss Louis B. Mayer as well as Gilbert's own demons are explored in depth.

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