Hosted by the Catalina Museum for Art and History, earlier this year I had the thrill and honor to introduce their screening of Buster Keaton’s brilliant comedy Sherlock Jr. (1924), accompanied by renowned pianist and composer Michael D. Mortilla. With Michael’s invaluable assistance we have transposed this presentation into a beautifully accompanied, narration-free video.
As shown, Buster not only filmed Sherlock Jr. conveniently beside his small studio, but also all across Southern California, from Chatsworth to Placentia and Newport Beach.
Above, Buster seeks to escape the villains disguised as a beggar-woman, directly across the street from his studio barn, appearing in The Blacksmith (1922). At back in both scenes appears the Coffee Cup Cafe, home of Klean Kwik Kooking, serving STEAKS CHOPS and OYSTERS. Read more HERE.
Now filming in Hollywood, Buster opens his bank vault front door and steps onto Hollywood Blvd. at La Brea. He built his small set on a triangular traffic island that is now called the Hollywood Gateway. Read more HERE.
While I cover Sherlock Jr. extensively in my book Silent Echoes, and report many newer discoveries elsewhere across this blog (click HERE), the video contains even more new discoveries. For example, during Buster’s interplay with his motorcycle-riding assistant Gillette, the sequence cuts back and forth between shots filmed on Larchmont Ave., north of Beverly Drive, and on Lucerne Ave., south of Beverly, several blocks away.
The video even shows how Buster filmed a mundane scene near the Arden Grocery once standing at Motor Avenue and National Ave. in Palms, where he and Roscoe Arbuckle made The Hayseed (1919) years earlier, and where Stan Laurel filmed Kill or Cure (1923).
Be sure to check out my YouTube channel. I now have eight (!) videos posted, and hope to continue posting new videos every month or so.
In closing, I again want to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to the Catalina Museum for Art and History for inviting me to speak, and to Michael D. Mortilla for his brilliant music and friendship. I encourage you to support them both. I also encourage you to visit Catalina Island, a magical place that once played host to all the great silent film stars. Above, my first visit in 30 years, a lovely lonely view on Pebbly Beach Road looking north to the Avalon Catalina Casino at left. This was taken later in the evening after the Museum, Michael and others musicians, including Jay Mason, presented Rudolph Valentino’s Blood and Sand (1922) at the Avalon Casino Theatre, as part of the Avalon Silent Film Showcase, one of the world’s longest running annual celebrations of Silent Film.