One of silent comedies’ craziest scenes, race cars zooming down a ramp, flying through the air, landing in a pile atop each other, marks the exciting climax to Lizzies of the Field (1924), the Mack Sennett Comedies Studio production recently restored and released by Dave Glass and Dave Wyatt as part of their striking two-disc Blu-ray release of nearly 20 comedies starring Billy Bevan. The two reel film, discovered in the Eye Filmmuseum archive, scanned by Lobster Films, and restored by Lobster and Dave Glass, is presented complete and in stunning detail for the first time. This prior post, Part One, shows where they filmed Lizzies along roads near the yet-to-be-built Griffith Park Observatory.
Brent Walker, author of Mack Sennett’s Fun Factory, reports the flying car stunt was a major event. Sennett sent not only all of his own studio cameramen, but also Alvin Knechtel of Pathe News, to document the crash. As Brent reports, the stunning scene had long been familiar, having been featured in compilation films including Robert Youngson’s 30 Years of Fun (1963), and in Paul Killiam’s The Fun Factory (1960), and The Great Chase (1962).
Brent writes at page 386 of his book the hill was located near Rowena St. and Armstrong St. near Silver Lake. When I contacted Brent, he recalled a script or other papers in the AMPAS Sennett Collection files had mentioned the jump being staged near this locale, while few other Sennett locations were ever referenced.
Click to enlarge – intrigued by the Blu-ray clarity of the film, I focused on the imposing hilltop building overlooking the jump site. After searching vintage photos on Calisphere, I quickly found it – the former Monte Sano Foundation at 2834 Glendale Blvd. USC Digital Library. Read more about Monte Sano HERE.
Click to enlarge – with this background reference point fixed, it became easy to orient the stunt filming site geographically. The Monte Sano building (red box) has given way to condominiums on re-named Waverly Drive, and Armstrong St. has since been re-named W Silver Lake Drive, but as Brent correctly reports, the crash stunt was staged along hills and fields SW from the corner of Rowena and Armstrong.
Knowing the locale, it’s clear to see this view looking to the NW shows Griffith Park, and the distinctive Beacon Hill in the background. Paul Ayers.
This current Google Maps view shows the path of the cars down the ramp, arrow, and the former site (red box) of the Monte Sano building.
Above, covered in this Part One post, matching views of the auto race appearing earlier in Lizzies along 2763 Glendower Ave.
Thanks again to Dave Glass and Dave Wyatt for their heroic work. Here’s the link to the Dave Glass YouTube channel, loaded with dozens of rare silent comedies.
I now have TEN videos on my YouTube Channel. If you like detective stories, check out Case Closed – How Buster Keaton Made Sherlock Jr.
Below, Shadowlawn Ave follows the slope of the auto jump ramp within the SW corner of Rowena and W Silver Lake Dr (formerly Armstrong).