Where Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Brooklyn Vitaphone Shorts

This final page covers a few Shemp Howard appearances (further below) and the earliest exteriors to appear in Hey Pop, filmed in Bay Ridge, at 3rd Ave and 80th St several miles west of the studio. Remember to click each image for a larger view.

The Silent Clowns - MoMA

Looking south down 3rd Ave from near 80th St. I copied this photo of Roscoe filming Hey Pop from page 14 of Walter Kerr’s classic 1975 book The Silent Clowns, listing MoMA as the photo’s source.

Early in Hey Pop, Roscoe and Bill are desperate for food. Roscoe devises a scheme to throw things at the food market across the street from his apartment. As planned, the market owners retaliate by throwing food back at Roscoe through his open window, enough for a feast. The flurry on the street turns into an all-out food fight. Roscoe and Bill eat their fill, but when the orphanage authorities (a couple of thugs) arrive to send Bill away, Roscoe and Bill flee for safety.

Hey Pop - placing this corner across from the food fight at Espinosa's.

Hey Pop – the matching “FRUIT” sign on the Esposito Market awning places Roscoe’s scene across the street.

I solved this location by first noticing the matching word “FRUIT” in both scenes above. I suspect the Esposito food fight market might have been another vacant store dressed for the movie, as the filming makes quite a mess.

Hey Pop - matching logos of the Bay Ridge Laundry on the truck, and partially seen in on the storefront glass.

Hey Pop – the corner of 80th at 3rd Ave, showing matching logos (ovals) of the Bay Ridge Laundry Co. on the truck, and partially seen in on the storefront glass. Notice that the step entrance behind Roscoe (box) has now been bricked shut.

Next, I noticed the Bay Ridge Laundry truck at back, and that the truck logo matched part of a logo in the store window to the left. The Brooklyn Public Library has a collection of vintage telephone directories online. I could not locate an entry for an Esposito market, as certain microfilm pages were indecipherable or missing. But I did find the Bay Ridge Laundry at 8010 3rd Ave in Brooklyn, and Google Street View confirmed the spot.

*     *     *

Harold Lloyd filmed many scenes from his New York-based comedy Speedy (1928) at Coney Island, and in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn (see example below). You can access a tour of these Brooklyn locations here. Harold Lloyd – Brooklyn Speedy Tour.

Speedy - filming under the Brooklyn Bridge - Beth Goff

Speedy – filming under the Brooklyn Bridge – Beth Goff

*      *     *

salt-water-daffy-07-1302Another standout of the Vitaphone Comedy Collection: Volume One DVD are the many early appearances of comedian Shemp Howard, Moe and Curly’s brother. Shemp, Moe, and Larry Fine were the original Three Stooges during the 1920s, with Curly (Jerome) taking over Shemp’s role when Shemp began his solo film career in 1932. Shemp would rejoin the Stooges in 1946 when Curly became too ill to perform.

I discuss the Three Stooges’ 1930 debut film appearance Soup to Nuts (featuring Shemp, not Curly) in a post HERE, as it was filmed in downtown Los Angeles where Buster Keaton had filmed in 1920.

salt-water-daffy-01Shemp appears in thirteen Vitaphone shorts on the disc, including two of Roscoe’s films. For completeness, here are a few corresponding locations shots (8) and (9) from the Jack Haley Vitaphone comedy Salt Water Daffy (1933), co-starring Shemp. The aerial map appears again below. Jack is best remembered for playing the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz (1939).

(8) - Salt Water Daffy views east towards Dorman Square.

(8) – Salt Water Daffy views east towards E 14th.

At left above, the Admiral admires his prize pocket watch – at right Jack Haley and Shemp Howard flee after Shemp palms the watch from the Admiral. Both views look east along Ave M towards the corner of E 14th (8).

The east (7) and west (9) corners of Ave M between E 14th and E 13th.

Salt Water Daffy – the east (7) and west (9) corners of Ave M between E 14th and E 13th.

Shemp steals the Admiral’s watch when he and Jack bump into him at the corner of E 14th and Ave M (7). Jack discusses Shemp’s uncontrollable kleptomania as they walk east along Ave M from the corner of E 13th (9). Most of the movie takes place after Jack and Shemp enlist in the Navy in order to hide from the police. The Brooklyn Navy Yard west of DUMBO is the likely setting.

(C) 2017 Google.

(C) 2017 Google.

Movies are time machines, transporting viewers back to the time and place of their creation. The Vitaphone Studio is but a memory, and now the building has been brought down, but through its films we can still experience brief and vivid glimpses of a bygone era. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the many collectors and archivists who rescued these films and made them available for us all to enjoy.

Support The Vitaphone Project.

Movie frames (C) 2012 Turner Entertainment Co. All color images (C) 2017 Google except for Ron Hutchinson at page 1 and Beth Goff at page 7.

Below – Roscoe’s Bay Ridge setting – south down 3rd Ave at 80th St in Brooklyn.

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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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