Keaton – Seven Chances Filmed Close to Studio

(You’ll find most Seven Chances filming locations at this earlier post.) Now that the Keaton films are all available on Blu-ray, I not only continue to make new discoveries, but to my great satisfaction I am also increasingly able to place these filming locations into a broader context.  As we will see, this scene below from Seven Chances (1925) was filmed just a few blocks away from Buster’s small studio.

Buster eyes a potential bride walking from Melrose down Rossmore.

Buster eyes a potential bride walking south from Melrose down Rossmore.

The premise of Seven Chances (see related post HERE) requires Buster to become married by 7:00 pm in order to inherit a fortune.  Before Buster outruns an army of angry brides at the film’s climax, he approaches a number of random women on the street.  In this “joke” above, Buster recoils after realizing the potential bride he approached from behind is actually an African-American.  Although this joke is overtly racial (one of the few in Keaton’s oeuvre), modern audiences may not realize that at the time it would have been illegal for Buster to marry this woman.  It was not until 1948 that the California Supreme Court struck down California’s anti-miscegenation laws, the first time since the Reconstruction that a state had declared such laws to be unconstitutional.

Despite several clues, including the unusual curved street, and what appeared to be some type of church steeple (red oval) in the background, this setting eluded me for many years.


Click to enlarge.  Harry Langdon and Vernon Dent travel north up Vine from Melrose in His Marriage Wow

But once I could read on the Blu-ray the 658 – 656 street numbers above the doorways during this scene, I realized it was likely filmed looking south from somewhere along Melrose Avenue, and eventually identified the setting as 658 N. Rossmore Avenue. Melrose is where the curved street Rossmore continues further north into Hollywood re-named as Vine Street.

This matching circa 1938 aerial view at left looks south, and shows Buster’s path beside the retail stores (arrow), the small church built in 1922 at 600 N. Rossmore, at the time called the Rossmore Avenue Congregational Church (red oval), and the extant Rossmore Apartments, built in 1924, at 649 N. Rossmore Avenue (yellow oval).  The yellow box marks Arden Place, a newer “Y” branch street addition that was not present in 1925, that runs from Rossmore into Arden Boulevard, and the larger and more modern Christ the King Catholic Church built in 1927.

Also above to the left appear Harry Langdon and Vernon Dent, driving north up Vine from Melrose, in their 1925 Sennett Studio comedy His Marriage Wow.  Their view looks south down Vine towards the same retail store (arrow), church (red oval), and apartments (yellow oval) on Rossmore, as in the left Keaton frame at the top of this post.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge. The red box marks the Keaton Studio at Lillian Way and Eleanor, the asterisks mark abandoned lots and sets of the former Metro Studio (by then Metro had left to merge into M-G-M in Culver City), the arrow at right marks Buster’s path down Rossmore from Melrose, and the yellow oval marks the extant Rossmore Apartments.  Los Angeles Public Library


Click to enlarge. Another view looking north towards the Keaton Studio (red box), the Rossmore Apartments (yellow oval) and the original Rossmore Avenue Congregational Church (red oval).  USC Digital Archive


Above, matching then and now views south down Vine towards Melrose and the extant Rossmore Apartments.  Below, the Rossmore Avenue Congregational Church building as it appears today.

Check out my Seven Chances YouTube video

Seven Chances (C) 1925 Buster Keaton Productions, Inc.  (C) renewed 1953 Loew’s Inc., licensed by Douris UK, Ltd.

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16 Responses to Keaton – Seven Chances Filmed Close to Studio

  1. Mary Mallory says:

    Great post! I travel that street all the time, who knew it actually appeared in a film? I especially love that photo showing the Hollywoodland Sign.


    • Yes, that’s a great view north. The USC Digital Archive now has a web feature that allows you to zoom in on their images. That Hollywoodland view is actually just a small portion of the original photo.


  2. Maria says:

    I just enjoyed the film today and loved seeing original Hollywood scenes. Thanks for your work.


  3. Neville Ross says:

    Actually, even if the laws had been struck down when Buster’s character was doing what he was doing, he still would have lost his fortune, because a mixed marriage between a black and a white was considered declasse among the wealthy set of the period (1920’s to 1940’s and even on into the ’50’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s-just look at what happened to poor Inger Stevens.) ‘Society’s Child’, indeed.


  4. M.Biagi 9 Brazil ) says:

    Nice job !


  5. Pingback: Buster Keaton, Seven Chances, and Warren Beatty? | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  6. tovangar2 says:

    In the north-facing image, also notice the single “H” on the Hillside, the next peak over to the left (west) of the Hollywoodland sign. It was for Hollywood High School, located at Sunset and Highland.


  7. Pingback: Harry Langdon – His Marriage Wow | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  8. swac44 says:

    Seven Chances was released 97 years ago today! Just wondering John if you have an idea where Buster’s house at the start of the film was located?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. swac44 says:

    Amazing! Glad I could contribute in some (very) small way to the never-ending search for Buster locations!


  10. Pingback: thorns and roses | Sunklands

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