As discussed in a prior post, Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges nearly crossed paths early in their respective film careers, and did cross paths (see second post) with Keaton’s General Nuisance (1941) and the Stooge’s Boobs in Arms(1940), two Columbia short subjects filmed on the back lot called the Columbia Ranch located in Burbank at the corner of Oak Street and Hollywood Way. The ranch remains in use today as the Warner Ranch. For this post we’ll compare matching shots from Keaton’s So You Won’t Squawk? (1941) with the Stooge’s Flat Foot Stooges (1938). (You can view my third post about Buster and the Stooges at the Columbia Ranch HERE).
The matching views above from So You Won’t Squawk? and Flat Foot Stooges look south along the park in the direction of the arrow in the map below, towards the corner of the two story brick facade set (circled on map below). The ranch film vault stood behind this two story set facing the park. Further west, the set also had a curved portico supported by Ionic columns, as shown in this truncated panorama from Flat Foot Stooges (above), and in this vertical pan from their earlier Tassels in the Air (1938). Jim Pauley reports that this palatial set was called the Deeds Home, as it was built for Frank Capra’s 1936 classic Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. The formal structure would later be replaced by two suburban home sets, the western-most of which portrayed the Griswold family home in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), and the home in American Beauty (1999).
This aerial view from Life Magazine (below) shows the point of view (arrow) looking south towards the two-story corner building set. A road following the direction of the arrow would later cut the central lawn/park area into two sections.
The so-called Friends fountain near the north corner of the ranch park also appears in both So You Won’t Squawk? and Flat Foot Stooges.
As discussed in my prior post, both Keaton and the Stooges appeared before the same Columbia Ranch bungalow in their respective films General Nuisance (1941) and Boobs in Arms (1940). This bungalow stood just east of the two story set described above, and appears in the background during Flat Foot Stooges. The oval in the Stooges frame (left) marks the water tower on the Warner Bros. main lot. The bungalow pictured here in these three films no longer stands, but its twin to the east still remains.
Buster’s So You Won’t Squawk? made use of other Columbia Ranch sets appearing in Stooges films. The corner building set just north of the park (see below) appears in Buster’s film, and in the Stooges’ Mutts to You (1938).
The arrow on the map below shows the camera point of view towards the corner building set north of the park.
The Island Inn Cafe portrayed in Keaton’s So You Won’t Squawk? was the Columbia Ranch commissary building.
This modern aerial view below shows the relation of the commissary (oval) to the corner building set north of the park (box).
So You Won’t Squawk? also provides this view north up Hollywood Way, from Oak Street, showing the corner entrance to the Columbia Ranch. You can see the small guard house by the gate.
This aerial view below shows the path of Keaton’s car from the ranch gate.
Here is a view from Oak Street north up Hollywood Way today.
Flat Foot Stooges contains a few other scenes filmed on the ranch. The fire alarm from the film was phoned in from in front of this suburban home set, standing due west of the two story brick set discussed above. The same home set appears in the opening to the Stooges’ 1941 short Some More of Samoa.
This photo below was taken after the park area was split in two (see arrow below). The top oval marks the commissary, the top box marks the corner set north of the park, the lower oval marks the two story brick facade building, the lower yellow box marks the Some More of Samoa house, and the red box marks the two bungalows next to the corner entrance and guard house.
My special thanks to Steve Bingen, author of the amazing book MGM-Hollywood’s Greatest Backlot, and Janet Hoffmann. For more information on the Columbia Ranch, I highly recommend the unofficial ranch website here.
Jim Pauley’s new book The Three Stooges: Hollywood Filming Locations has dozens and dozens of photos of the Columbia Ranch backlot and the various sets.
The Mike McDaniel and Wes Clark Burbank history website Burbankia can be found here.
Movie frame images copyright Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
Imdb says that Curly dubbed Gino Corrado’s screams when he falls into a cellar in the Keaton short Pest from the West (’39) [directed by Del Lord]. so technically Keaton and the Stooges did cross paths!
That’s very interesting – thanks!
Great posting! Great Info. Thanks for adding a link to my Columbia Ranch website!
Deep bows to you for all the great reseach!
Terrific sleuthing as always, John! Did anyone else notice that the man pulling the fire alarm in FLAT FOOT STOOGES (1938) is the great Harry Myers (Chaplin’s drunken benefactor in CITY LIGHTS) – poor Harry finished up his career doing extra & bit work in a slew of movies during 1938, the last year of his life (BLOCK-HEADS, TOM SAWYER, ZENOBIA, and more).
I live in Burbank and drive by the Warner Ranch everyday on the way to work. I never new there was so much history at the place. Thanks for a great website. The B&W picture looking north on Hollywood Way is fascinating, boy has Burbank changed. It’s too bad the studio sold off a big chunk of the lot at Verdugo and Hollywood Way, nothing but another mini mall there now. I currently work for a TV Production Company at the old Columbia Studios Lot in Hollywood, now called SunsetGower Studios. If you ever come across an old movie image taken on the Old Columbia lot let me know I would love to try to recreate it with a recent picture.
Are you familiar with this Yahoo chat group about the old studios?
Several members work, or used to work, at the studios, and they have hundreds of photos and other information I think you’d enjoy.
Also check out this website http://www.retroweb.com/40acres.html
If you would, also check out http://www.columbiaranch.net.
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