The Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of Safety Last! contains many bonus features, including three razor-sharp early Harold Lloyd short films. One such film, Take A Chance (1918) featured here (and now available on the Criterion Channel), provides rare views of the long lost Court Hill neighborhood where Lloyd and producer Hal Roach began their careers.
Lloyd filmed along the block of Hope Street (above) between Temple Street to the left, and Court Street to the right. Each building in the above aerial view can be viewed individually at the Los Angeles Public Library Homes of N. Hope St collection, including to the left of
Harold, 242 Hope St, 240 Hope St, 236 Hope St, 232 Hope St, 228 Hope St, and the three story apartment with the front balconies at 224 Hope St, and to the right of Harold, 212 – 214 Hope St, 210 Hope St, 206 Hope St, and on the corner of Hope and Court, the Court Apartments. A reverse view of the corner Court Apartments appears (right) during a scene from Lloyd’s A Gasoline Wedding (1918), filmed looking north up Court St towards Hope.
Later in Take A Chance Harold chases Snub Pollard and Bebe Daniels past the Chestmere Apartments that stood on Court and Grand, just two short blocks from the Bradbury Mansion that served as the studio home for Lloyd and producer Hal Roach. The mansion stood on the corner of Hill and Court Streets, with the main entrance facing Hill.
The Chestmere Apartments also appears in reverse view behind Harold in this scene (right) from one of his earliest surviving movies, Lonesome Luke Messenger (1917). The view looks north up Court Street – Lloyd’s Bradbury Mansion studio stands to the left, just out of view. Lloyd is running down Court St from the corner of Olive St. The row of homes on Court St across from the mansion, off camera to the right, appear in many early Lloyd comedies.
This 1919 aerial view above shows the Court Hill filming location in relation to local landmarks, such as the Hill Street Tunnel overlook, where many stunt comedies were filmed, and Lloyd’s Bradbury Mansion studio. You can read a detailed account of this aerial photo, showing how stunt comedies were filmed, in this post LA’s early hills and tunnels preserved in comedies and film noir.
Take A Chance begins with Harold flipping his last dime to decide whether to spend it eating or getting a hair cut. Instead he loses it down a storm drain. This scene was filmed in front of the Majestic Apartments on Temple St., also just steps away from the Bradbury Mansion. In this post I explain how the Majestic and the Hill Street Tunnel appear in the 1949 Burt Lancaster noir classic Criss Cross. You can see the relation of the Majestic to the other Take A Chance filming locations in the view below.
Take A Chance concludes with an escaped prisoner knocking Harold unconscious, and swapping their clothes. Unaware of his new appearance, Lloyd ignores these two policemen, who drag him off to jail. The setting was the true Los Angeles city jail, that appears in many early comedies, including Laurel and Hardy’s The Hoose-Gow (1928). You can read more about the jail in this post Laurel-and-Hardy-Charlie-Chaplin-four-silent-jailbreaks.
HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.
Approximately 216 N. Hope St today – Google Maps