The San Francisco Silent Film Festival triumphantly celebrates the return of live cinema hosting its 25th anniversary festival at the Castro Theater May 5-11, 2022. Here is the schedule, which runs a full week – https://silentfilm.org/2022-festival-schedule/
One highlight is the Saturday May 7 screening of Buster Keaton’s remarkably entertaining Steamboat Bill, Jr., accompanied by the wonderful Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. With the aid of vintage aerial photographs, and a score by Mont Alto, I’ve put together this YouTube video showing exactly where Buster left his footsteps along the Sacramento River.
This link takes you to the fantastic National Archives aerial photo featured in the video thumbnail above – https://catalog.archives.gov/id/23935015
The next day, Sunday May 8, the Festival hosts the nostalgic childhood comedy-drama Penrod and Sam. Based on the Booth Tarkington novel, this popular movie was directed by William Beaudine early in his career. Following a gang of young boys, the movie takes place on an idyllic all-American street, lined with beautiful homes and large yards. But where was it filmed?
Above, this unique 1923 photo (click to enlarge), looking east at the then-small USC campus in the foreground, provides the answer. A popular film location site, especially with Buster Keaton (more below) I’ve studied dozens of aerial photos of the campus, which nearly always look north. National Archives – photo mislabeled as Pasadena – https://catalog.archives.gov/id/23935371
Two blocks east from USC, Penrod and Sam was filmed nearly entirely on the 3400 block of S. Flower between W. Jefferson Blvd. and 34th Street. The child Penrod lived at 3421 S. Flower next door to a genuine vacant lot (a critical part of the story). The once beautiful street was later devoured by the Harbor Freeway and the USC Galen Center.
This final image above shows the Penrod street and some of the USC locations where Buster Keaton filmed. This YouTube video below shows even more USC details where Buster filmed, along with scenes with Harold Lloyd and Laurel & Hardy.
This link downloads a PDF file with even more Penrod details. For video tours of Charlie Chaplin’s studio, Buster’s studio, and the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley, visit my YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/SilentLocationsbyJohnBengtson/featured
Visit https://silentfilm.org/ for all the San Francisco Silent Film Festival details.
Below, the once wistfully beautiful site of Penrod’s home.