The Artist depicts the romance between a fading silent film star and a rising “talkie” ingénue, set in Hollywood during 1927 to 1932. Writer-director Michel Hazanavicius, and his mostly French cast and crew, traveled to California to film at true Hollywood locations in order to re-create the magic of the past. Continuing my prior post about locations appearing in the movie, I explain here how The Artist was filmed just steps away from Buster Keaton’s small studio, and where he filmed his debut solo short film One Week (1920).
The Kinograph Studio entryway and other studio scenes portrayed in The Artist were filmed at the Red Studios, 846 N. Cahuenga Boulevard, two blocks due south from the former Buster Keaton Studios, and across the street, to the south, from the former Metro Studios.
From between 1920 to 1928, Buster created 19 short films, and ten feature comedies, from his studio located in Hollywood at Eleanor and Lillian Way. Before being folded into MGM, the former Metro Studios were located adjacent to Buster’s lot. For many years the block on which the Red Studios now stands was used as a backlot for the Metro Studios to build exterior sets. It was here that Buster Keaton constructed his disastrous build-it-yourself two-story home for his debut independent short film One Week (1920).
This circa 1925 aerial view of the Metro backlot above shows the block on which the Red Studios would be later built. The aerial view looks to the SE, while the matching modern view looks east. The same bungalow, at 817 N. Cahuenga Boulevard, across the street from the Red Studios, appears in both images – the only original structure to survive. This same bungalow appears during scenes from Buster Keaton’s One Week, described further below.
Several scenes from The Artist that take place on the fictional Kinograph Studio grounds, including this shot above, were filmed at the Red Studios.
Above, Buster builds his do-it-yourself home during a scene from One Week, filmed at the future site of the Red Studios . A portion of a Metro Studio filming stage appears in the background. Below, the surviving bungalow at 817 N. Cahuenga, discussed above, appears in two scenes from One Week. Buster’s finished house is all contorted because his rival had secretly re-numbered the boxes to Buster’s do-it-yourself kit. In the movie frame to the lower right, a piano-mover delivers Buster’s piano, walking north up Cahuenga past the 817 address. You can see the bungalow on Google Street View at the end of this post.
The more prominent Cahuenga entrance to the Red Studios was employed to portray another vintage Hollywood studio, Maroon Cartoons, for the 1988 animated-live action classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
For more photos and location information about One Week, see my book Silent Echoes. As mentioned in my prior post, this LA Times story describes a number of locations from The Artist worth exploring.
You can learn more about the classic Hollywood studio backlots at this wonderful Yahoo Groups forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/StudioBacklots/
The Artist (C) La Petite Reine, The Weinstein Company. One Week licensed by Douris UK, Ltd. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (C) Touchstone Pictures.
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