Silent Footsteps Now Online – SFSFF Amazing Tales

My Silent Footsteps Zoom webinar hosted by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival is now available for free online viewing at the festival’s online screening room.


An all-new program, my talk covers in part the hidden interplay between movies filmed in Hollywood and in San Francisco. Above, this landmark church facing San Francisco’s Washington Square almost appeared during Buster Keaton’s Day Dreams (1922), but played a huge role the next year during Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1923).

Working with film historian Russell Merritt, we uncovered surprising vestiges of many important locations from D. W. Griffith’s epic masterpiece Intolerance (1916), hidden for over a century. Above, the Governor’s stairway and home featured during the film remain intact, but at two separate locations (?) My talk explains all, the first “hybrid” location I’ve ever discovered.

Vivid background details revealed in the Blu-ray release of Safety Last! (1923) helped establish Harold Lloyd filmed many scenes not in downtown LA, but in the Heart of Hollywood.

In closing, Modern Times (1936) was the last major Hollywood production to feature a silent film star in a movie with no spoken dialog. As Charlie Chaplin and Pauline Goddard set off together, we witness perhaps the concluding shot of the entire silent film era. We can share this moment with them decades later because it was preserved on film.

I had fun putting this Silent Footsteps show together, and hope you will check it out at the SFSFF’s online screening room.

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2 Responses to Silent Footsteps Now Online – SFSFF Amazing Tales

  1. Mark Mason says:

    Hi John, Just watched your Zoom webinar, fantastic.
    Thank you so much for all your incredible research. Even as a child, over 45 years ago I would watch silent movies on the TV, here in the UK, and be transfixed by the buildings, cars, landscapes and people in the background.
    I’m in complete admiration of the work you’ve done to reveal the world trapped in the amber of these great movies.
    Kindest regards,


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