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The Parade's Gone By...

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  614 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The magic of the silent screen, illuminated by the recollections of those who created it.
A narrative and photographic history of the early days of the movies, combining fact, anecdote, and reminiscence in a critical survey of films, actors, directors, producers, writers, editors, technicians, and other participants and hangers-on.
Paperback, 608 pages
Published June 23rd 1976 by University of California Press (first published 1968)
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Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: movies, silents
Totally an Ur text for silent film nerds. Fascinating and great. 5 stars for the loving description of Buster Keaton's man cave.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Kevin Brownlow, who won an Oscar last year in recognition for his work in film preservation, conducted these priceless interviews with silent film actors, directors, and technicians back in the 60s when the pioneers of what would become Hollywood were beginning to die out, rescuing many precious and unique memories from oblivion. A one of a kind classic of oral history whose achievement will never be duplicated.
Jon Boorstin
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: early-movies, movies
This is the book that hooked me on early movies. Brownlow was curious, and persistent, and around when the giants were still alive. He is also a writer who cares about his subject, and is passionate that you care too. He led the way in restoring silent pictures to the place of respect they deserve. In Brownlow's view, 1927, the last silent year, was the best year for pictures, ever. After you read this, you might agree.
Beth Cato
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew this book would be a good resource since I've seen several other resources cite it, but I still cannot help but be impressed. This is a work of love and passion in chronicling the silent film era. Not only does it discuss the stars, but it goes into great detail about the technical aspects and how they evolved throughout the time period and how various people played vital roles in that process. There are photographs throughout. The hardcover book is a veritable tome--this is the kind of ...more
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book can't be bettered for first-person source material about the silent era. Brownlow seems to undertake monumental tasks as a matter of course, and the quality is always top-rate. The chapters in this book span every genre and job in the film industry, and they have all kinds of interesting and hilarious things to say.
Steve Payne
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, film
Originally published in 1968, for many, this is understandably the bible for the lover of silent films. It's written with genuine love, enthusiasm and knowledge by the film restorer Kevin Brownlow. The book is full of stories from the days these films were made, told by the people who made them. In many cases Brownlow was lucky to capture the interviews just before it was too late. Not only has Kevin Brownlow been a saviour to the physical medium of film, but also to its memory. The text is ...more
Tom Walsh
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have wanted to read this book for a long time. It's a detailed, well-researched encyclopedic gaze into the lost world of silent films. Because it's narrated by a camera man, it's also filled with technical detail about the hardware used to create those mesmerizing effects that made us hold our breath. Excellent for any film buff! The book is excellent because it magnifies the minutia of the silent era. There are many names: stars, directors, producers, film techniques, studios, and so many ...more
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The granddaddy of silent film books, The Parade's Gone By is a must read, period end of story. Brownlow related that this was a book he never wanted to read, he simply used it as an excuse to interview the subjects, it became a book, and a damn fine one, at that. This book, probably singlehandedly, inspired me (and many others I'll wager) to go and explore silent films. It's a testament to an age long gone, but told through the eyes of people still who were very much alive and living in the now. ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Kevin Brownlow is a great film historian who spcializes in silent cinema. Especially America silent films. Also one of the first to really focus on American cinema of the silent years.

"The Parade's Gone By" was written in the 60's, so Brownlow actually interviewed all the participants that are featured in the book. What gives this book a little extra something is that he focuses on the cameramen and technicians as well as the stars and the directors. You are not going to get much closer to the
Great book, very interesting read, especially with the sections where the author takes stories right from the mouths of the people who lived through the silent era of films. It was a good balance of interesting stories, technical aspects and only a tiny bit of gossip. In fact i liked the fact it didn't rely heavily on silent era shade and T, there are plenty of those books out there.
My only criticism is that there is a lot of technical sections regarding the film process and I have no knowledge
Beth Ann
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Brownlow's book rightly remains a classic of early film history. He had a passion for the subject; he was lucky to be writing the book at a time when so many of the silent film industry were living and interviewable; he deeply researched his topics; he has firsthand viewing experiences that he drew upon; and he wasn't afraid to add his insightful and sometimes biting opinions.
Kit Fox
Nov 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of the best film books I've ever read. The author is so passionate about silent film, you can't help but get more excited about it yourself—not that an affinity for silent film is a prerequisite for enjoying this'un. Bursting with great stories about the phenomenal people who helped invent one of the best art forms since the ham radio, it's a big book, but it reads super fast.
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenny by: Larry
Shelves: non-fiction-film
Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of movies in America. Brownlow interviewed dozens of actors, directors and technicians who worked in the silent era and the book is filled with their stories of pioneering this new art form. Lots of beautiful stills too.
Garrett Cash
"Film-making techniques today are little further developed than they were at the end of the silent era. Startling innovations excite critics, but any capable historian can point to the introduction of hand-held cameras, wild cutting, and abbreviated narration: it was all being done in the twenties. Film makers are generally less imaginative, less daring, and less skillful than their silent-era counterparts."

This is the astonishing thesis of Kevin Brownlow's The Parade's Gone By..., which is
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is more of a reference book than one I choose to read from beginning to end. Having just immersed myself in the Hollywood documentary (from the late 70s/early 80s) I thought this book would be a continuation of that, but I found the documentary to be more interesting than this book.

The book features interviews with several silent movie figures, true pioneers, most of whom are now gone, but I thought the content chosen to publish was kind of weird. For example, there is a little chapter on
Leona Heraty
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Parade's Gone By is one of those rare books I've read where I didn't want it to end. I'm a little sad that I finished reading it, as I literally enjoyed every page!

Kevin Brownlow, only in his 20s when he wrote this book over several years in the 1960s, had the foresight (bless his heart!) to interview many of the silent film actors, directors, cameramen, producers, etc., before they passed away, to get their individual perspectives of what it was actually like working in the film industry
The title, Brownlow tells us in the introduction, is a quote from an assistant working on The Buster Keaton Story in 1957. A writer and director of silent movie comedies tells an assistant they’ve got it wrong. He says, “Look, why don’t you go away? Times have changed. You’re an old man. The parade’s gone by…”(1)

Okay, so yeah, I first got this from the library to read the essay/ interview with Buster Keaton. After I read that, I read nearly all forty-eight other essays/ interviews from actors,
Mar 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cinephiles everywhere
Recommended to Professor by: Class required
Shelves: personal-library
The book covers the entire history of silent films, and, as it was written in the 1960s, much of it is done through interviews with people who were in the industry. It's a large book, though, both in terms of page length and physically, so I only picked at it off and on. A while ago I finally figured out how I would finally finish it-I put it in the bathroom. You see, the book is divided up into a lot of small sections, which makes it practically ideal for bathroom reading (that's not to say it ...more
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I absolutely love this book, it's a great resource. HOWEVER, with that said, there is missing information. For example: WHY is Clara Bow missing? Unless she's been added in a later edition, I cannot for the life of me understand why she's missing. She was only the star female in the first movie to ever win an Academy Award, the film Wings. Was she left out because of the lies, half truths and innuendos surrounding her social activities? That's one school of thought...which then also makes little ...more
James Bazen
Aug 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is pretty much the standard for silent era books. Brownlow fortuitously interviewd several people ranging from film stars, directors, producers, technicians, etc. in the 1960's when many of these luminous pioneers were still alive. With warmth and affection, Brownlow managed to create a very absorbing account of the silent era and the people who created it. The book has naturally dated as our knowledge and the availability of silent films has grown tremendously in the 40 years since ...more
Oct 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book!
Most of those who worked on silent films were still around when Brownlow was writing this so there are an awful lot of first hand accounts which Brownlow reproduces verbatim.
However this isn't a beginners introduction to silent cinema, you do need to know something about the subject to really appreciate it. Brownlow mainly concentrates on Hollywood with just a passing glance at European cinema, although the book is dedicated to the French director Abel Gance, the only
Troy Soos
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: movies
Although not a comprehensive or chronological history of silent film, The Parade's Gone By is one of the most insightful books on the subject. Kevin Brownlow interviewed many veterans of the silent era in the 1960s, and the book relies heavily on their vivid recollections. The text is augmented with marvelous photographs, many of them behind the scenes and illustrating early production methods. Brownlow later wrote the equally excellent Hollywood: the Pioneers.
Feb 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kate by: Bob Irvin
Everything the other reviewers have said is true-- a tremendously informative book about silent film production, based on interviews with people who were there.
Thisi s the way I like all my history-- first person and close up! Brownlow's interviews give a wonderful sense of the hard work, the intelligence, the "gutsiness" that went into those early films. Intriguing and wow-inspiring stories.
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I learned a lot about silent cinema and its stars, directors, scriptwriters and other technicians. It was very enlightening to learn about how different filming was then from now. It wasn't a difficult read and it helped me become the film freak I am today. The photos and interviews are all very interesting, and I really enjoyed reading it and learning.
Kate McD
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
can i rate this higher than 5 stars? my favorite book on silent film. he interviews directors, writers, actors, extras, cameramen, editors, electricians, - everyone he could find. it was written in the late 60's and i don't know if it's been re-released anytime recently - i got my copy on ebay for pretty cheap. Also has a ton of amazing pictures.
Justin Decloux
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I feel bad that I put this off for so long. It's not only insightful and expansive, but it's incredibly lively, and people reading it today have so much more opportunity to check out the films that are under discussion.
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Insanely thorough exploration of the world of silent-film-making. Beautifully written & researched - good reading for anyone interested in cinema history, totally fulfilling for people who love silent films.
Nigel Thomas
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved this. And because loads of silent film can now be found on DVD you can follow up and see what all the fuss was about
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
THE definitive book on silent film. If you want to learn about early cinema and don't know where to start, start here.
Well worth read by Kevin Brownlow first published in 1969. Silent films in the 1960s were seen as mainly a joke and disregarded if ever seen. Brownlow decided to go back to the history of film and start at the beginning and look at how it developed from the first point on. He mainly covers Hollywood but also reaches out to European filmmakers. Things I found the most interesting included the view of DW Griffith as an anti-Semitic Jew and was proudest of himself as a genteel Southern Gentleman. ...more
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Kevin Brownlow, is a filmmaker, film historian, television documentary-maker, author, and Academy Award recipient. Brownlow is best known for his work documenting the history of the silent era. Brownlow became interested in silent film at the age of eleven. This interest grew into a career spent documenting and restoring film. He has rescued many silent films and their history. His initiative in ...more