One of my all-time favorite discoveries are the young girls caught on camera intently watching Charlie Chaplin filming scenes from The Kid (1921) (read more HERE).
A closer study of Harold Lloyd’s early short From Hand to Mouth (1919) reveals broader views of where Chaplin filmed these scenes on New High Street north of downtown (read more HERE). But the early comedy team of Eddie Lyons (far left) and Lee Moran beat them both, filming a missing person comedy What A Clue Will Do at this same locale in 1917, providing vibrant and fascinating details of this working class neighborhood. For good measure, they even filmed at the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd alley (see below), again, years before the other comedians.
Lyons and Moran appeared in over 300 early films together under the Universal – Nestor and later Star Comedies banners. To begin, the clueless sleuths seek clues standing beside 645 New High Street, the same numbered doorway where Minnie Stearns wallops Charlie with her umbrella. It’s fun to see details from 100 years ago match perfectly.
With its wide sidewalks, grungy exteriors, and minimum traffic, being only two blocks long, this setting was a perfect locale for both Chaplin and Lloyd’s hard luck stories. The oval marks the Lyons & Moran filming spot, while the “T” intersection to the north at Alpine Street appears behind Harold.
The police chase Harold north past the corner of 641 New High (arrow), the same corner where reporter Edith Roberts searches for her lost notes.
Here both views look south, as Minnie continues to wallop Charlie.
Harold’s drive down the street provides a view of 640 New High to the east, where Eddie meets and flirts with Edith.
Looking north up the east side of the street, left, reveals the 636 New High home site (arrow) of the woman employing Lyons & Moran to find her lost “baby.” Spoiler, he’s really a giant, 30 year old barfly.
Again, Harold’s broader view reveals where Eddie chases after Edith, the arrow pointing to 632 New High.
Looking south, a cop whistles for Lyons & Moran to stop, while Harold chases after the villains, the decorative arched columns of 618 New High (box) appearing in both views.
Remarkably, the building at 618 New High remains standing. While the decorative arches are replaced by sliding metal doors, the upper windows (box) are unchanged.
Looking east along the 600 block of New High, from Ord Street at the left, to Sunset at the right, showing the 640, 636, 632, and 618 addresses, while the star marks the gateway at 645 where we meet Lyons & Moran and where Minnie wallops Charlie.
As I explain in my Lloyd book Silent Visions, Harold filmed many scenes from For Heaven’s Sake (1926) here as well, seen above running south beside the building still standing at the NW corner of Ord.
Given its “colorful” exteriors and close proximity to the Bradbury Mansion Rolin Studio, Lloyd likely filmed many other early (but sadly lost) films along New High. One rare surviving example is That’s Him (1918), included as a bonus to the Criterion Collection release of Lloyd’s The Kid Brother (1927). I’ve identified nearly every shot in the film, and hope to post about it some day, but for now, these views show the SE corner of Ord and New High, a bit north from where Lyons & Moran filmed. LAPL. USC Digital Library.
Jumping over to Hollywood, Lyons & Moran filmed at the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd alley, running down the rickety wooden stairway appearing beside Harry Houdini during his escape from the villains in The Grim Game (1919) (read more HERE).
Eddie and Lee even filmed at the top of these stairs, providing a clear view of the distinctive two story home once standing at 1645 Cosmo. The stairway was removed by the time Buster Keaton filmed Cops (1922) here.
A parting shot looking east in 1890 shows the back of the gateway on New High where we meet Lyons & Moran (yellow box), and still standing on the corner of Ord at 1001 Alameda Street (orange box), the world-famous Philippe The Original restaurant, home to the original French dipped sandwich. Huntington Digital Library.
Discovering Lyons & Moran recently this year has been an absolute thrill. Their early films document dozens of century-old locales, especially Waiting at the Church (1919) (left), which I plan to write about extensively. This prior Time Travelers post uses several of their films to highlight a single vintage photo. I want to thank Michael Aus for working with the Library of Congress to make these entertaining time travel films of Lyons & Moran available to eager fans. You can purchase What A Clue Will Do and other early films HERE, and more Lyons & Moran films HERE. Proceeds benefit the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum.
Please help support naming the Chaplin Keaton Lloyd alley in Hollywood by posting a review on Google Maps. Prototype alley sign design by noted Dutch graphic artist – Piet Schreuders. Download a 4-page brochure about the alley HERE. This video further explains the alley – if you can, please leave a thumbs up and share it with others.
Below, a rare remaining building along New High, appearing with Lyons & Moran in 1917.
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