Chaplin’s Studio Pay Day

As documented in my Keaton book, and elsewhere on this blog (Mr. Keaton’s Neighborhood), Buster Keaton filmed over four dozen scenes and simple insert shots on the streets adjacent to his small studio.  In a similar vein, as described in my Chaplin book, Charlie Chaplin used the back porch of his studio office for a domestic scene in A Day’s Pleasure (1919) (left, see post Chaplin Medley, slide 7).

Vintage aerial photos confirm that Charlie also filmed a domestic street scene from Pay Day (1922) within steps of his studio.  During the scene, Charlie’s harridan of a wife, played by Phyllis Allen, confronts Charlie after work, demanding his entire week’s cash wages.  Unbeknownst to Charlie, she has just witnessed him hiding a few dollars in the brim of his hat.  During a comedic exchange, Phyllis first extracts all of the cash from Charlie’s pants, depositing it in her open purse.  For a moment Charlie thinks he has pulled one over on Phyllis, but she then demands to see his hat.  Topping the scene, while Phyllis extracts Charlie’s hidden wages from his hatband, Charlie furtively removes the balance of his pay from her open purse, making a net gain on the transaction.

Click to enlarge. The red oval marks the A Day’s Pleasure corner site mentioned above, the yellow oval marks the telephone pole appearing behind Charlie and Phyllis in Pay Day below. The arrows show the camera’s point of view.

Looking west down De Longpre from La Brea. The oval marks the same telephone pole appearing in the aerial view above.

Chaplin filmed this scene (at left – click to enlarge) near the NW corner of De Longpre Avenue and N. La Brea, in front of a newly constructed bungalow with a distinctive circular bay (3), still standing (behind a wall) at 7101 De Longpre Avenue.  The land was still a lemon grove in 1919, more than a year after Chaplin completed constructing his studio on a former citrus orchard across the street.  As shown above, Chaplin likely walked to this filming site, which was actually closer to the back porch of his studio office than the studio’s enclosed filming stage!  The house further back in the movie frame (2) stood at 1400 N. Detroit Avenue, now lost, while the chimney of 1401 N. Detroit (1), now also lost, peaks out in the back.  Large apartment blocks stand on these homesites today.

The remaining annotations on the above aerial photo show Chaplin’s corner office (4), the open air shooting stage (5), that remained open until after Chaplin had completed City Lights in 1931, the studio projection room (6), the studio editing room and laboratory (7), the north wing of dressing rooms (8), the studio carpenter shop (9), and the studio closed shooting stage (10).  My book Silent Traces contains a lengthy chapter devoted to the Chaplin Studio, including all of its appearances in Chaplin’s films, and a private photo tour of how it looks today.

Matching views, from 1918, and 1922, showing the Pay Day filming spot (oval).  Jeffrey Vance Collection – Association Chaplin

Above, aerial views of the Pay Day filming spot, the NW corner of De Longpre and La Brea, before and after the bungalow at 7101 De Longpre was completed between 1919 and 1922.  Below, a Google view of the NW corner of De Longpre and La Brea today – the circular bay bungalow (3) to the left, the Chaplin corner office (4) barely visible through the trees on the right.

All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, copyright © Roy Export Company Establishment. CHARLES CHAPLIN, CHAPLIN, and the LITTLE TRAMP, photographs from and the names of Mr. Chaplin’s films are trademarks and/or service marks of Bubbles Incorporated SA and/or Roy Export Company Establishment. Used with permission.

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7 Responses to Chaplin’s Studio Pay Day

  1. Pingback: Chaplin’s Studio Pay Day | The Bioscope |

  2. Pingback: Chaplin’s Studio Pay Day | lmota |

  3. Pingback: Chaplin’s Studio Pay Day | the Gonzo Trap |

  4. Mike Kazaleh says:

    The distinctive bay window on DeLongpre is actually still there, although it is now behind a brick wall. That Building for many years housed Playhouse Pictures, a commercial animation studio. I worked in that building for several years as an animator.


  5. Enrique says:

    Very nice post.


  6. LL says:

    Cool page. Thank you.


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