On Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles there is a one hundred and fifty seat movie theater that for over sixty-eight years has doggedly dedicated itself to the exhibition of silent films. Built in 1942 by maverick film preservationist and collector John Hampton, the theater championed silent film at the very moment when the Hollywood studios across town were busily destroying their nitrate inventories. With hard chairs, phonograph-record accompaniments, and mostly original vintage prints, the dingy mom-and-pop operation was nonetheless a palace to the fanatical few who became its loyal audience. Through the theater's tumultuous years of operation, its owners and employees have struggled to keep a cherished art form alive, often paying a heavy price in the personal tragedies that have stemmed from this struggle: obscurity, financial ruin and even murder. Through interviews, archival footage and detailed research, PALACE OF SILENTS reveals the touching, twisted, and bloody history of one independent theater's successful attempt to stubbornly buck every cinematic trend in the hometown of American cinema.
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