Well, I just watched the silent version of UNACCUSTOMED AS WE ARE and thought I’d briefly share my thoughts. If I were to pick the silent film with the most annoying use of title cards, it would come down to this and THE PATSY with Marion Davies. I give them credit for trying to make certain theaters not feel left out, but when you start off depending so much on this new technology, the silent version is naturally going to come off as weaker. The phonograph is one example, along with the fight between the Kennedys, which feels very lacking without sound.
However, I do think Tony has a point when he says that some gags still work. Stuff like setting up the table, which doesn’t require sound to make it funny, still works fine and I also think that the whole “Mr. Hardy” and “Mrs. Kennedy” bit works better in this than the sound version, since it doesn’t feel as slow and drawn out. The only other difference besides the lack of sound is the editing. It’s edited to be a bit more fast-paced in order to both be more like a silent film and downplay the importance of the sound-based gags. For example, in the end of the sound version, when Laurel falls down the stairs, Hardy runs over and we hear what results from this, whereas in the silent version, it just ends with Laurel falling and we don’t see Hardy run over to the stairs.
I’m not going to give it a rating since it’s basically just a trimmed-down version of the sound version, but if I had to pick between the two, I’d still pick the sound version. The silent version is still alright though and is the version to pick if you can’t get past the sound quality in the other version.
It's too bad that the existing silent version of their followup, BERTH MARKS (1929) has never enjoyed home video release, as I've read that for some viewers, it plays better than the sound version, especially during the lengthy and tedious upper berth sequence (I'd suspect the inserted cards might actually break up some of the monotony, in that instance? ).
Monotonous title cards or the upper berth sequence from BERTH MARKS? Both are bad, but the title cards are the lesser of two evils.