On the Fence – Keaton’s stunts in Cops and Our Hospitality

picasion.com_5a5de6ea85d3581e8a74c655aa7a919aIn a recent post I showed how Buster Keaton staged his daring waterfall rescue from Our Hospitality (1923).  In honor of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s presentation of Our Hospitality this June 8 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, here is another circa 1920s view of the “T” shaped pool on the former Brunton Studio backlot, now part of Paramount, where Buster filmed this amazing stunt.


Click to enlarge – San Diego Air and Space Museum

On the fence

On the fence

The above view looks east – the red box marks the “T” shaped plunge near Melrose Avenue running along the far right.  The yellow oval above marks a “Y”-shaped urban set that Buster used for a famous stunt on top of a fence (at left) in his 1922 short comedy Cops.  Below, another view of the plunge (red box) and urban set (yellow oval), this time looking north from Melrose along the bottom towards the Hollywood Forever Cemetery at the top.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge hollywoodphotographs.com

Early in the movie Cops, Buster mistakenly believes he has purchased a horse and wagon from a street bum for $5.00.  Behind them is a “MONEY TO LOAN” pawn shop set.  This same set appears during Buster’s fence stunt.

Cops backlot pan 1

Zooming in on the above northern looking aerial view, we get a direct view of where Buster filmed these scenes from Cops.


Click to enlarge.  The directional arrow matches the arrow in the top-most aerial view.

Buster also filmed scenes from his later comedy short Day Dreams (1922) at the same urban street set on the former Brunton backlot (see below).

Both from Day Dreams.  The view to the left looks south along the Brunton Studio

Both from Day Dreams. The view to the left looks south along the Brunton Studio “Y”-shaped street set – the Cops fence location is out of view around the corner to the left.  The “MONEY TO LOAN” sign appearing behind Big Joe Roberts at the right is marked with a yellow oval on the left.

The views above show how Buster used the “Y”-shaped street set for Day Dreams. Below, we can see portions of the Cops set as it appears in Day Dreams.


Click to enlarge.  The same entrance cornice (red box) and policeman’s call box (yellow oval) appear in both Cops to the left and Day Dreams to the right.

NormaThe matching views above show how the elements from the Cops fence set appear in Buster’s later film Day Dreams.  Buster used the same “Y”-shaped set further in Day Dreams for the failed-thespian sequence where Buster is physically kicked out of a theater.  As a discreet homage to his two sisters-in-law, the famous actresses Norma and Constance Talmadge, Buster placed movie posters from their films on the theater wall.  This poster (left) from Norma’s 1922 feature Smilin’ Through can be seen in the right movie frame above, just to the left of the yellow oval.  Also featured is a poster for Constance Talmadge’s 1921 rom-com Woman’s Place.dd 28

I explain on bonus features of the Kino-Lorber Keaton Short Films collection, and hope to write here in future posts, how Buster also filmed scenes from Cops on the backlots of the former Metro Studio, directly across the street from his own small studio in Hollywood, and at the Goldwyn Studio in Culver City.

PS – as I write HERE, the 1925 crime-busting newspaper drama The Last Edition, that re-premiered at the 2013 San Francisco Silent Film Festival, provided the visual link to show that Charlie Chaplin filmed The Kid, Buster Keaton filmed Cops, and Harold Lloyd filmed Safety Last! all at the same alley in Hollywood.  As shown below, the drama also filmed a racing firetruck at the Brunton Studio where Buster filmed the fence stunt in Cops.

You can read all about Buster filming Cops at the Brunton Studio at this link HERE

Buster early in 1922 – The Last Edition in 1925 – you can still read the 439 address at back.

Cops, Day Dreams, and Our Hospitality licensed by Douris UK, Ltd.

The blue square in the Google aerial view below is the current Paramount Studios pool/parking lot.  The Brunton plunge stood to the lower right of the corner of Windsor Blvd. and Valentino Pl.
This entry was posted in Buster Keaton, Cops and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to On the Fence – Keaton’s stunts in Cops and Our Hospitality

  1. Mike Kichaven says:

    Hi John,

    Did anyone shoot the hopefully-not-yet-destroyed Keaton building on Sunset? If not, I can go by this afternoon.

    Best, Mike

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Mike – I have received some nice photos, and while I will always welcome more, especially if someone can get a shot without that trailer parked in front, there is no need to make a special trip unless you’d like to go pay your last respects. Thanks for inquiring – John


  2. what a great post thanks for sharing


  3. Joe Adamson says:

    John — Isn’t that pool still there?! I believe that’s where we shot the crash of the Bird of Prey into the Pacific in STAR TREK IV! Byron Haskin told me you could see the ocean from that lot in the early 20s (can’t now) — In 1986, when we shot ST4, the drains on the lot floor still said “Brunton Studios” on them (they’re gone now) —
    (Forgive me if you got this msg. twice — Somehow it got lost the first time — )


    • Hi Joe – it is my uninformed understanding that the Paramount pool is still functional. It has sloped sides, so when not in use people can drive down the slope and use it for parking, as shown above. That would be fun to see a Brunton Studio drain. Did not know you worked on ST-IV!


  4. Pingback: The Kid – Cops – Safety Last! Three comic masterpieces filmed at a common Hollywood alley you can still visit today | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  5. Pingback: More Discoveries From Keaton’s Cops | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  6. Barry Allen says:

    It was my understanding that the current tank on the Paramount lot was built in the ’40s for REAP THE WILD WIND.


  7. Pingback: Buster in Cops Cruising Santa Monica Boulevard | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  8. Pingback: Mary Pickford, the Talmadge Sisters, and Buster Keaton at the Brunton Studio | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  9. Pingback: Buster Keaton – More Backlot Scenes From Our Hospitality | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.