Where Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Brooklyn Vitaphone Shorts

(C) 2017 Google.

(C) 2017 Google.

This page covers scenes filmed looking west at the corner of E 13th and Ave M, spots (9), (10), (11), and (15) above. Remember to click each image for a larger view.

(9) - Buzzin' Around - view west

(9) – Buzzin’ Around – view west on Ave M to the corner of E 13th. The box marks the china shop setting at 1312 Ave M – buildings A and B are still standing.

When motorcycle cops respond to the china shop distress calls we get a clear view behind them of the SW corner of E 13th and Ave M, a vacant lot at the time. The building (A above) advertising the Kings Highway Saving Bank, now blocked from view by a modern apartment, still stands at 1206-1210 Ave M further west from the corner. The building (B above) in the far background still stands at the SW corner of Coney Island Ave and Ave M.

10 - Buzzin' Around - view south towards 1306 Ave M.

(10) – Buzzin’ Around – view south towards the 1308 and 1306 Ave M addresses clearly visible at back.

A cop when you need one – Roscoe saves his skin by casually sauntering over next to a handy policeman. Behind them stands 1306 Ave M, at the time a vacant storefront with a “For Lease” sign, decorated with a distinctive ocular-shaped “FRUIT VEGETABLE & FISH MARKET” window sign.

(10) Buzzin' Around - 1312 Ave M to the left, and 1308 (visible in window) to the right

(10) Buzzin’ Around – the 1312 Ave M china shop at left, and 1308 (oval) in window – the right box marks the china shop.

Above left, Al and Pete arrive beside the FRAGILE CHINA SHOP (as opposed to the DURABLE shop) with the correct secret formula. The storefront located at 1312 Ave M was real, likely vacant and dressed up for the movie. The 1308 address next door is visible above behind Al’s head. The street numbering configuration may have changed somewhat today, but the Sanborn maps show 1312 and 1308 Ave M as consecutive addresses.

11 - Buzzin' Around - cops turning east onto Ave M from E 13th.

(11) – Buzzin’ Around – cops turning east onto Ave M from E 13th.

The motorcycle cops come to the rescue (11), turning right (east) from E 13th onto Ave M. The SW corner to the right behind them was vacant at the time, and the building at back is consistent with the present spot, although the ground floor of that building has since been remodeled. Given its proximity to the other sites, its general consistency with the movie frame, and the fact (per shot (9) above) the squad of cops was already filmed once before turning this same corner (maybe they used two cameras to capture both shots in one take), I am confident (11) above is the correct site.

15 - Buzzin' Around - Roscoe runs into the corner drug store at E13th and Ave M.

(15) – Buzzin’ Around – Roscoe runs into the corner drug store at E 13th and Ave M.

Buzzin’ Around is so named because a swarm of cartoon animated wasps (emanating from a hive that fell into the back of his car) overwhelm Roscoe as he drives into town. Having swallowed one pesky insect, Roscoe runs to a corner drug store (15) for relief.

15 - Hey Pop - the orphanage thugs run from the corner of E 13th and Ave M.

(15) – Hey Pop – the orphanage thugs run from the corner of Ave M and E 13th.

The same corner (15), complete with legible corner street signs on the lamppost, appears in this Hey Pop shot of the orphanage thugs chasing Roscoe and Bill. Notice the same ocular-shaped FRUIT VEGETABLE & FISH MARKET window sign, at 1306 Ave M, to the left.

Below – looking west at the corner of E 13th and Ave M. Next, spots (13), (14), (16), (17), (18), and (19).

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12 Responses to Where Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Brooklyn Vitaphone Shorts

  1. Bill Counter says:

    Thanks, John! Great as always.


  2. Tom Carr says:

    John, your remarkable eye works equally well on both coasts! I really enjoyed this post, because I’m a native New Yorker and I own the Arbuckle-Shemp Howard DVD. I’m not from Brooklyn, though (Manhattan), so I was stumped trying to figure out just where these films were made. Brooklyn or Queens, obviously, but just WHERE? Now I know. Thanks!

    Poor Roscoe, though… he still “had it,” but cruel fate cut him down.


  3. travsd says:

    Reblogged this on Travalanche and commented:
    There’s no way the Travalanche readers won’t LOVE this article and the blog it comes from. Thanks John Bengtson!


    • Thank you Trav – given LA’s dismal preservation record it’s remarkable to see how little in Brooklyn has changed after 85 years. Do you know any local history groups that might appreciate this information? John


  4. Pingback: Arbuckle – Keaton at the Bronx Biograph Studio | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  5. Sandy says:

    Loved this information. Late 50’s early 60’s I lived one block south of Wilshire on Detroit in a building I can see! It has since been torn down and is a parking lot. So many familiar landmarks where movies and history were made.


  6. DW Miller says:

    The Midwood, Brooklyn neighborhood near the Avenue M subway stop has changed so in the past 5 years. The demolition of the former Vitagraph studio site that was used by an Orthodox Jewish girls’ school and the building of rental apartments there, and the transformation of the former NBC Brooklyn I & II studios across East 14th Street into a Jewish social services & community center (Brooklyn I) and a self-storage facility (Brooklyn II) Progress. At least the Vitagraph smokestack still stands.


    • Thanks for the update DW – change is inevitable, but it always makes me a bit sad when some classic building or neighborhood is demolished, or loses its character. It was fun tracking these down using Google maps – I’ve never visited in person


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