In honor of Buster Keaton’s birthday today, October 4, 1895, Turner Classic Movies is hosting a Buster Keaton celebration by playing a large selection of his films throughout October. Watching Keaton’s penultimate MGM feature Speak Easily (1932) for the first time, I was surprised to see that the movie employs the same train stations where Keaton filmed some of his greatest silent film triumphs.
In Speak Easily Buster plays a timid classical Greek literature professor who befriends a struggling stage troupe. Buster first meets them beside the Inglewood train station, best known as the setting for the climax of Keaton’s debut silent short One Week (1920), where Buster’s house is demolished by an oncoming train.
As Buster is dragged aboard a departing Inglewood train in Speak Easily (above), you can see a distinctive shed that stood nearby during the filming of One Week.
Later in Speak Easily, Buster and the troupe arrive at the Chatsworth station, and momentarily go their separate ways. As shown below, the Chatsworth train station appears briefly in Sherlock Jr. (1924), and due north of the station is the water tank in Sherlock Jr. where Buster unknowingly broke his neck filming a stunt lowering himself to the ground from the tank water spout.
Buster made only one more feature for MGM after Speak Easily before he was fired. Given Buster’s struggles at MGM, and his despair over losing creative control of his films, you have to wonder what Buster might have been thinking when he re-visited these stations where he had created screen magic a decade earlier. Both the Inglewood and Chatsworth stations are lost to history, but both appear frequently in early film.
Speak Easily is available for instant viewing on the Internet Archive. The train station scenes begin at 6:30 and17:00 into the film.
I explain One Week in full detail in my book Silent Echoes. This map below shows where Buster’s house crossed the still-active rail line at the end of the film. The former Chatsworth station was located on the west side of the tracks, across from the current Chatsworth Amtrak station.
What an amazing and wonderful site … nothing like it anywhere … a perfect companion to your remarkable books. I’ll be watching “Speak Easily” from the DVR today and enjoying it twice as much, thanks to this post.
John – thank you so much. You have one of the most fascinating movie blogs I’ve ever seen (see below), so this coming from you is a real compliment.
Amazing work! Also, always nice to see the overlap in the Lloyd/Keaton/Chaplin locations. You do such a good job of showing how their paths crossed on film.
Pingback: Happy Buster Keaton Month (otherwise known as October) « Pretty Clever Films
Pingback: A Tale of Two Train Wrecks (and One Airport) – by Buster Keaton | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)
Thanks. I really enjoyed seeing these old movie locations. I grew up across the street from the area in the very early 1950’s and played in those exact places. I have several 1924 aeial shots that confirm many of buildings shown on the map. Some were still there in 1952 and after.
Thank you Jerry. I would love to take a look at those aerial shots. Would it be possible to send me a scan?
John, I would be happy to share. Just send me an email I can use to send photos.
Pingback: Silent Cameos of the lost Southern Pacific Depot | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)
Pingback: Keaton – Wings – Noir – and the SP Depot | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)
The network of railways in Plymouth, Devon, England, was developed by companies affiliated to two competing railways, the Great Western Railway and the London and South Western Railway. At their height two main lines and three branch lines served 28 stations in the Plymouth area, but today just six stations remain in use. The first uses of railway in the area were wooden rails used during the construction of docks facilities. *
Make sure you visit our very own website too
It is wonderful when movies enter both our dreams and the reality upon which we walk. Thanks.
Pingback: Speak Easily (1932) Review, with Buster Keaton | Pre-Code.Com
Pingback: Cagney and Keaton Crossing Paths in Inglewood | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)
Pingback: Keaton’s The Goat – the geography of a gag | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)
Pingback: Mary Pickford’s “A Beast at Bay” a century before LAX | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)