In 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.
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.
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.
Zooming in on the above northern looking aerial view, we get a direct view of where Buster filmed these scenes from Cops.
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).
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.
The 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.
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.
Cops, Day Dreams, and Our Hospitality licensed by Douris UK, Ltd.
Did anyone shoot the hopefully-not-yet-destroyed Keaton building on Sunset? If not, I can go by this afternoon.
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
what a great post thanks for sharing
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!
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It was my understanding that the current tank on the Paramount lot was built in the ’40s for REAP THE WILD WIND.
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