Silents vs. Talkies Tournament!

FIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!! Many, many silent films have been remade as talkies so which is better? The original or the remake? I made a little survey with six stories and twelve movies. Your task: choose which you like better, the silent or the talkie.

Just scroll through the survey, choose your favorite and then click the submit button on the bottom once you have answered all the questions that you can. The one thing I do ask is that on your honor you do not vote for a choice unless you have seen both versions.

(No need to apologize if you vote for talkies. It’s your vote, do as you like.)

If the poll doesn’t show up for you, here is a direct link. Enjoy!

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14 Replies to “Silents vs. Talkies Tournament!”

  1. That was fun. You should revisit that from time to time. The comedians quite frequently remade their silent properties as talkies, so that’s a thing, too.

  2. Was expecting to see Phantom of the Opera! Which would be tricky for me: both versions are flawed, but the 1943 is something of a comfort movie for me, while the makeup is undeniably better in 1925. Anyway, voted honestly where I could, but had to leave a lot blank.

    1. I will also second the notion about The Racket. The 28 version is by far the better and it really isn’t close.

  3. I haven’t seen 2, 3, or 5. So I left those blank. As for 1, I’ve only managed to see the Tyrone Power version so by default until I can view the Fairbanks version I must say the talkie.

    As for 4 and 6. I’m going with the silents. While I still love the 59 version, I find myself watching the 25 version more over a calendar year. Upon first seeing the 25 Ben-Hur I was blown away on how much better than it was over 59 one. I’m convinced if there were the Academy Awards in 1925, Ben-Hur would’ve made out like the 59 version.

    While I haven’t seen the remake of The Lost World, I’m sure I will like the original over the newer one. Second, while it wasn’t asked I liked the 1927 version of Kings of Kings over the 61 one(but this is a close one). Finally, also since it wasn’t asked despite how good Robert Bresson’s 1962 remake of Joan of Arc is it’s nowhere near as good as Dreyer’s original which is still IMO one of the greatest films ever made. I also would put the 25 Ben-Hur among the list of greatest films ever made.

      1. Are you referring to William K. Everson? Anthony Slide states in his new book, “Magnificent Obsession”, that this story is nonsense.

      2. I know a lot of people like his books but I have to confess that I found some of the assertions Slide put forth in Silent Players to be so bizarre that I put him on my “use with caution” source list. (I’ve avoided his books ever since, so I have not read Magnificent Obsession.)

      3. Well, I was simply pointing out what Anthony Slide said and not necessarily agreeing with him. Although a highly knowledgeable film historian, Slide (in my opinion at least) can be harshly bitchy. Incidentally, William K. Everson rated “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) as “lugubrious and grossly inferior” to “The Blue Bird” (1940) … to each his (or her) own …

        https://www.nyu.edu/projects/wke/notes/huff/imagefiles/huff_690513.pdf

      4. I think my main problem with Slide is that his “biographical and autobiographical studies” basically go from zero to TMZ with no warning. I love highly opinionated critics, even (or especially) if I do not agree with them but for biographical work, I prefer a calmer hand and fewer personal asides; the star should be the star, in short, and major issues are fine to bring up but no incident is too petty, no comment too mean in Silent Players. This is especially worrisome as some of the material is the ONLY published information on certain stars. It is reckless and unworthy.

        Everson I probably disagree with about 75% of the time when he reviews or writes intros but I absolutely love his writing.

  4. Here are my comments for the silent vs. talkies “fight”:

    1) I voted for the Fairbanks version of “The Mark of Zorro” as it is a landmark film that established Doug as the screen’s supreme swashbuckling hero, established the swashbuckler genre, brought the Zorro character to the screen for the first of many times, and influenced characters such as Superman and Batman. Plus, the film is rollicking fun! The Tyrone Power version is quite enjoyable, too.

    2) It’s been years since I’ve seen either version of “The Unholy Three”. I remember them both being good, but I voted for the talkie because Lon Chaney was able to use different voices to the disguise he used in the film. He showed that he had a fine voice an probably would’ve continued his career further into the sound period if he had not died shortly afterwards. As it is, the 1930 version remains his only sound film, and that makes it special.

    3) As with “The Unholy Three”, it’s been a while since I’ve seen both version of “The Blue Bird”. However, I remember the silent version being an enchanting treat while the sound version was rather tedious. Thus, I voted for the silent. From what I’ve read, the 1940 version pretty much ended Shirley Temple’s career as the screen’s favorite child star.

    4) I love the silent version of “Ben-Hur”. It a lavish epic that is much more faithful to the Lew Wallace novel than the 1959 version. Plus it manages to tell the story in a much shorter time than the later version. As for the two big action sequences, both have great chariot races, but the silent has a much better sea battle. Obviously then, I voted for the silent. (I still like the 1959 version a lot. It’s far superior to the empty and superfluous 2016 version.)

    5) “West of Zanzibar” vs. “Kongo”. I skipped voting on this since I’ve never seen the talkie. The silent is quite wonderful.

    6) The sound version of “The Lost World” was a favorite of mine when I was a child, but it just doesn’t hold up that well today. The silent version, however, is a treat, especially in the restored blu-ray edition that was released recently. I voted for the silent. The main difference – and it’s a big one – between the two versions is that the dinosaurs in the silent are brought to life by (for the most part) Willis O’Brien’s superb stop-motion models and animation. The sound version uses the much cheaper – and much cheaper looking – method of filming lizards with fins attached to their backs. It simply looks shoddy (although in fairness, Irwin Allen’s budget – so I’ve heard – was cut severely by Fox so the money could go to their overblown version of “Cleopatra”.)

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