About – Short Version
I am the author of a series of books about Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd, entitled Silent Traces, Silent Echoes, and Silent Visions, respectively, examining the locations and history hidden in the background of their classic films, and the changes wrought by the ensuing decades. I have also lectured at seventy events and festivals across the country, while contributing visual essays to sixteen DVD/Blu-ray bonus programs.
This blog supplements my books with tours, videos, and PowerPoint lectures that can’t be replicated in books, and new discoveries, and expanded coverage of the great silent clowns and their home turf, that would not otherwise be published. Look for discoveries concerning Harry Langdon, Charley Chase, and other silent stars as well. I welcome your questions and suggestions, and invite you to step back in time with me to explore silent-era Hollywood as seen through the eyes of its greatest comedians.
John Bengtson – “the great detective of silent film locations” New York Times (01/04/13)
Contact – John @ silentechoes dot net
About – Long Version
I first read Rudi Blesh’s biography Keaton in junior high, and was immediately hooked by Buster’s magic and the romance of early film-making. I grew up watching silent comedies on public television, and collecting 8mm prints of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy from Blackhawk Films. I was fascinated by the world inhabited by the great silent-era comedians. Although they walked beside real buildings, and drove on public streets, their world seemed as alien and remote as if from another planet – silent, colorless, beyond reach.
I knew this world was once real, but the only tangible sense I had of it was from this image in Blesh’s book. A photo of Buster, his family, and friends, taken in 1920, looking proudly at the modest front office bungalow of the newly christened Buster Keaton Studio.
The photo was tantalizing. I knew Buster walked up those front porch steps into his studio every day for eight years, but there was so little to see, so little explained. Without any context, the photo was completely inaccessible. It seemed there was only so much we would ever know about how Buster made his movies.
Things began to change in 1995, the centenary of Keaton’s birth. Kino released Buster’s complete oeuvre on video for the first time, and later on, the Keaton appreciation society, the Damfinos, published an aerial photo of the Keaton Studio (center of bottom edge, below). Viewing that aerial photo was a thrill. It provided the context missing from the Blesh photo, and allowed me to “peek” over the studio fence for the first time.
For some reason, I began to notice certain bungalows and other landmarks from the aerial view began popping up in Buster’s films. I also noticed a chase sequence from Day Dreams (1922) was filmed in San Francisco, near where I once lived. Armed with photographs of the movie taken off of my television set, I visited San Francisco and identified every Day Dreams location filmed there in just a couple of hours. Encouraged, on my next visit to Los Angeles I spent an hour looking up business addresses at the public library, and found several more locations in an afternoon.
I never set out to be an author, but from that point on things began to snowball. Clues discerned from one film allowed me to solve locations from another film. I met people who were experts about vintage movie ranches or beach-side amusement parks. Image archives began posting searchable historic Los Angeles photos online. Increasing numbers of silent comedies were released on DVD. Like the tiles of a mosaic, with each individual discovery a broader and more detailed view of silent-era Los Angeles began to emerge.
Now, more than twenty years later, I have authored a series of books about the three great geniuses of silent comedy, and the historic environs where they once filmed, and continue making further discoveries today. We know now the paths of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd intersected frequently when filming, and yet they each had their individual favorite places to shoot. We can appreciate how Keaton, and especially Lloyd, crafted elaborate chase sequences by cleverly editing shots filmed all across Southern California. And we can savor the moments of everyday life captured in the background of their films.
Having lived with this material for so long, in my mind’s eye I can stroll around the Keaton Studio block, or from the Bradbury Mansion to the balustrade overlooking the Hill Street Tunnel, and picture every step of the way. It is the closest thing to time travel I will likely ever experience.
My hope is my books will instill a similar sense of time and place, so readers can envision the landscapes of early Hollywood as well. This blog supplements my books with tours, videos, and PowerPoint lectures that can’t be replicated in books, and new discoveries, and expanded coverage of the great silent clowns and their home turf, that would not otherwise be published. Look also for discoveries concerning Harry Langdon, Charley Chase, and other silent stars. I welcome your questions and suggestions, and invite you to step back in time with me to explore silent-era Hollywood as seen through the eyes of its greatest comedians.
John Bengtson – “the great detective of silent film locations” New York Times (01/04/13)
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John Bengtson is a business lawyer, film historian, and lecturer, whose books Silent Echoes, Silent Traces, and Silent Visions explore the early Hollywood history hidden in the background of the films of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd. John’s work has been hailed by The New York Times as a “Proustian collage of time and memory, biography and history, urban growth and artistic expression.” Each book features a foreword by Academy Award winning film historian Kevin Brownlow. Bengtson has now lectured at seventy events, hosted among others by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Turner Classic Movie Channel Film Festival, Cineteca di Bologna, both Film Forum and The Museum of the Moving Image in New York, USC, the American Cinematheque and Cinecon Classic Film Festival at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and has provided commentary and bonus programs for sixteen Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd DVD/Blu-ray releases.
SFGate article John Bengtson, archeologist of early cinema.
Profile in Book Club of California Quarterly
Email Contact – John @ silentechoes dot net
I’m so thrilled that you have a blog where I can receive these tidbits from you on a regular basis. One of my favorite people writing about one of my favorite subjects; it’s good news to wake up to. If you’re ready, I’d like to share on SilentFilms at Yahoo, and on Facebook. It looks fantastic now and I think you’re “ready for your close-up,” but if you don’t feel comfortable having the blog publicized yet, I understand.
Thank you for your kind words. I’m still figuring how all of this sharing and posting works, so I would greatly appreciate it if you care to spread the news.
I just discovered your blog through a recent post on Curbed LA and I’m glad I found it. You left a comment a while back on my blog, Dear Old Hollywood, and mentioned your books. My wife has since picked up two of the books for me (Chaplin and Keaton) and I must say, they are fantastic! They are certainly the definitive on the subject.
I enjoyed reading about how your interest was sparked into tracking down the locations. Once you find one location it can become addicting finding other film locations. I could spend hours going through screenshots, old photographs/postcards, and pounding the pavement. Keep up the excellent work! Now, I just need to pick up a copy of your Lloyd book 🙂
Thank you for your kind words. I linked your post about Bob Hope filming Eight on the Lam to my latest post about Langdon on Larchmont.
I was pleased to find your blog, having worn out my copy of Silent Echoes.
With the centennial of Chaplin’s arrival in Edendale coming up, could we talk about a possible presentation here in Echo Park?
Keep up the good work.
Echo Park Historical Society
Thank you for your interest. I would enjoy doing a Chaplin program, but I live in the San Francisco Bay area. I do travel occasionally to Los Angeles, and it might be possible to work something out with advance planning.
Why don’t you contact me directly by email at John@SilentEchoes.net?
Thanks Kevin – have you seen this recent post? https://silentlocations.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/charlie-chaplins-echo-park-home-100-years-later/
What a great blog concept. The only thing I miss so far is a RSS feed to stay updated. Or am I blind and didn’t find the RSS address on the site?
Thank you for your interest and suggestion. I’m still figuring things out, but have now added an RSS feed. Anything else missing?
Nope, the RSS feed works fine in my feed reader.
As a long time silent film fan and someone who is very interested in Los Angeles history, I really enjoy your blog. To help get the word out about your work, I have added your site to my blogroll and your books to the history section of my online store. I think my readers will appreciate the care and depth with which you approach this fascinating subject.
With regards to improvements to your site, I think it would be interesting to see the various locations you write about plotted on an online map. This would allow you to associate photos (past and present) with the plotted locations, as well as visually show where they are in relation to each other. You could also enable people to virtually “walk” down a street and compare what it looks like today with a scene in a film. Using applications such as Google Maps and Google Street View would allow you to do this.
I look forward to learning more about two of my favorite subjects as you expand your site.
Curating Los Angeles
Hey Jim – now it is working.
Thanks for your suggestions. Will add them in a few days.
What a terrific blog! Would love to have you introduce Buster Keaton’s College at LA City College in June as part of the 2011 Filmmobile Summer Screening Series, a free annual program of the Echo Park Film Center showing films outdoors at the locations where they were originally shot. In past years we’ve featured Safety Last downtown and Intolerance at the Von’s parking lot across from the Vista Theater… both with live musical accompaniment! The Filmmobile is an old Air Force bus that’s been converted into an eco-friendly (runs on vegetable oil!) cinema and film school on wheels. Please drop me a line for more details…
Hi Lisa – your center and festival sound very interesting. I live in the San Francisco area however, and so will not likely be able to participate. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have about the film.
Many thanks, John!
If any LA-area Keaton aficionados would like to join us for the screening, please get in touch!
Lisa – do you have a link to your Keaton screening? If you send it to me I will post it for you on the Keaton Yahoo Group.
As soon as the schedule is complete, I’ll send it along…
Thanks so much!
I learned about your wonderful website via Mark Evanier’s blog. http://www.newsfromme.com/
You asked whether any silent comedy stars went to college. I doubt it. College attendance was a much more class-oriented activity before WW2, and the well-to-do were never the winners in a slapstick contest. (When Bob Newhart was starting out in the early 60s, he told Buddy Hackett that he had an accounting degree, and Buddy replied “You mean you don’t have to do this?”)
Dear Mr. Bengtson:
Your books are in my library and I’m glad to have discovered your blog, which is no less precise and excellent. I have one of my own on a lost corner of L.A., Berkeley Square. I’m wondering–have you ever run across any evidence of silent filming done on this street? Hal Roach was a resident (story to come on the blog: http://berkeleysquarelosangeles.blogspot.com/ ). Keep up the great work, and thanks.
john, well well done. it’s rare to do an internet search and find precisely what you’re looking for.
as a bay area resident, i was excited by the pac heights u-turn location in particular. it’s always a case of driving through the same old places without having a clue as to what’s transpired there. next time i’m there, it will be with cam in hand, appreciation in tow.
it is indeed fascinating and as robby touched on, addicting, to visit these locations. was in l.a. a week ago checking out cagney-related spots and wish i’d been aware that i was also driving past keaton’s old studio grounds- but, next time…and likely armed with echoes.
Thank you K. There are written tours on my blog you can print out. You have quite a collection of thought-provoking fashion photos (is that correct?) on your blog.
Dear John: I just happened on your blog through a Facebook connection. As a old film buff (and a HUGE Keaton fan from way back) I often delighted in the simple background of the scenes- so often actual, living places- and speculated as to how much (if anything!) still survived to the present. Houses, streets- all brand new at the time… while inhabited by the cinematic shadows of people long gone from our midst. Every discovery such as you have made is a connection to the past that needs to be treasured.
Hello there – do you know about the Buster location at 914 S. Alvarado?
Hi Emily – yes, that is Virginia Fox’s apartment in The Goat. It’s covered on page 63 of my book Silent Echoes. It was (is) the Weymouth Apartment building. The name was difficult to read on the laser disc, but razor sharp on the Blu-ray.
Dear John: Have you ever approached survivors of the era for help in locating sites? Naturally, the only ones left are former child actors or the children of the actors of the time. But I am aware that Diana Serra Carey (Baby Peggy) is still around and is actually active in the movement for child actor protection. (Her own experience was one of exploitation, to say the least!) Mrs. Carey might be contacted through Paul Petersen’s “A Minor Consideration” organization.
Hi Steve – thanks for your note. I met Dianna Carey recently, at her lecture and show at the San Francisco library, but she did not have any recollections of specific locations.
I did meet Eleanor Keaton, and took her on a tour of places where Buster had filmed. They were all a revelation to her, as Buster did not talk about locations to her during their marriage. What was humorous is that she and Buster once lived in a similar bungalow just a stone’s throw from where Buster filmed a scene from Seven Chances, barely one block away, and even then he did not think to comment about it to her. I cover this on p. 161 of Silent Echoes.
hi john … just wanted to say what a fantastic idea … i love the then and now imagery of the shots … reminds me of mike davis’ “city of quartz” book, which i read whilst in LA, and would try to retrack the locations he spoke about whilst out there … (have you read this book?) … we have just finished filming a documentary on an old turn of the century wooden hand cranked camera … it’s a vintage film about modern day london, done in the style of the old mitchell and kenyon films … i’ve posted some of the outtakes on facebook if you are interested: http://www.facebook.com/LondonersDoc
although i must add that we only had 1 lens with our camera, so more often than not, the focus is on the people, and not their locations! … pretty interesting footage though …
kind regards …
Hi Joseph – thank you so much for writing. I have not read Davis’ book – it sounds interesting, but also from the Amazon reviews a bit depressing.
Your London Outakes footage is fascinating. It’s disconcerting some how to see contemporary people and events appear as if the they were filmed 100 years ago. Nowadays movie editing software can make video appear as if it is distressed movie footage, but I assume all of the “artifacts” apparent in your footage (the individual overexposed frames, and slipping frames, etc.) were a result of the camera. I have posted your link on Nitrateville, a chat group for silent and early talkie film fans.
Is your movie completed? Will you be presenting it soon?
Thanks again for writing – cheers,
hello john … yes, you are correct … all those flash frames are from the camera … it is very very hard to operate! … we used the heaviest tripod we could find, and it was still hard to keep her steady … film has now been edited, and then we do telecine, final score, etc … should be ready for january 2012 i hope … and then i hope to put it on the festival circuit in time for the summer … joseph.
ps: city of quartz is kind of an architects bible to historical LA … what is/was where and why … interesting, and at times heavy, but you can skip the boring bits …
Hello again Joseph – well, I was going to post this on Nitrateville, but zekas10 beat me to it! 🙂
My goodness, I think I just found the motherload. Should be working but decided to venture on the web for a few moments into one of favorite subjects (Silent Films) which included TCM which led me here. I will be back and hope to fully digest this site. What a great resources.
I am impressed with this web site, really I am a fan.
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Great job with this website, thank you!!
Do you know of any tours that are conducted in LA of the locations mentioned here?
Hi Kamal – I am not aware of any tour company that focuses on silent films. I do have several written tours posted here on my blog that you can download and take on your own.
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What a wonderful site.I recently viewed some old Lloyd films I taped in 2003 from TCM.In Hot Water when the family is about to go on a drive with the Butterfly 6 I noticed a house number 565 from where they departed.And across the street the view of the houses/front yards/steps is pretty clear.Has this street been identified as of yet? And also on Grandmas Boy,there is a chase scene on a straight open area road where Harold tried to lasso the villian,Has this area been identifed too? I can imagine it looks no where as it does today.
Hi John – thank you for writing. I have been able to identify many scenes from Hot Water, although not yet the 565 shot. And yes, that open straight road from Grandma’s Boy was near the Hal Roach Studio in Culver City, as I explain in my Lloyd book Silent Visions.
Perhaps your library has a copy of my Lloyd book. You can also go to Amazon.com, and use the “Look Inside” feature, to browse around, and see discoveries from those two films.
Thanks for writing, John
Hi, John-I’m reading Silent Traces right now. Your meticulous research & remarkable eye for detail shows on every page. Was wondering if you’ll be attending the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Silent Film Gala at UCLA Royce Hall on 5/20? This year they are featuring Harold Lloyd’s “The Kid Brother” & “High & Dizzy”?! Would like to email offline about a project I’m working on, also. Thank you so much.
my email is
John @ SilentEchoes dot net
I see you’re doing some Three Stooges work. Check out my latest “then and now” work on their 1936 film “False Alarms” – I discovered the fire hose scene was done at N. Larchmont and Melrose. See the comparisons here: Here’s a “then and now” look at the location where the fire hose scene was filmed for the Three Stooges 1936 film False Alarms.
Ooops. Sorry for the duplicate text in the post… “copy and paste” gone berserk! 🙂
Thanks Chris – your video is nicely done. I covered these locations in my Harold Lloyd book Silent Visions, at page 196, showing where Lloyd filmed scenes from For Heaven’s Sake on Melrose around the corner from where the Stooges filmed False Alarms. The same buildings appear in both movies, only looking north for the Stooges, and west for Lloyd. At page 181 of my Lloyd book you’ll see Larchmont scenes from the Stooges’ Hoi Paloi, and Pop Goes The Easel, that correspond to other For Heaven’s Sake scenes filmed on Larchmont.
Ah… and here I thought I had found something on my own! And even worse – I’ve got your Lloyd book and must have forgotten that particular location discussion, though I do remember you pointing out the other Stooges locations further south on Larchmont. What’s interesting (and disappointing) is that those locations further south on Larchmont don’t have very many traces left today of what was captured on film in the 30s.
Anyway… I’ve got another location that I believe I’ve “discovered” and I’ll be heading out to take some “now” pictures in the next week or two, so looking forward to sharing that one with you soon!
This is such a great blog and a unique one as well. I’ve seen blogs with similar analysis with regards to Football where the last minute snaps leading to a goal is analysed. But this is just unique. I can see that your passion for old movies but how about some location based analysis to new movies as well. Not sure if you’d done that already, so going to dig deep in your blog..
I just stumbled across your blog and I love it, thanks so much for putting all this together!
Do you have any plans to come out to NYC for any lectures or events, I would love to sit in on a few.
Wonderful blog! I can’t stop reading. Greetings from Poland 🙂
Witaj Joanna – bardzo dziękuję
John – Love the blog, just passing on the Los Angeles in the 1920’s video on the off chance you are not aware of it, I imagine you know all the locations already: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yAUlD7-sIPM
Hi Robert – thank you for thinking of me. I have seen this before – some great shots of many long lost LA locales. Best wishes, John
Dear Mr. Bengtson,
As always, your work is amazing and inspirational.
By the way, do you have any information about the availability of an alternate version of THE BLACKSMITH (probably French)? I have a 9.5mm. print of it and half of the first reel is completely different (also some scenes of the second reel). I think it may be of interest because there are like 5 minutes of outdoor footage than I’ve never seen in other prints, almost as if Keaton wanted to open the film up, feeling it a bit claustrophobic as it was. The final marriage proposal makes more sense with that footage.
Fernando Martín Peña
Hi Fernando – thank you so much for your kind words. I am afraid I do not know anything about archives or missing footage – everything I use comes from commercial DVDs and Blu-rays. Have you seen the Blu-ray release of The Blacksmith? It has a few alternate shots as a bonus feature. I have not posted it yet, but there are many scenes from The Blacksmith filmed on the vacant fields due south of the Hollywood Metropolitan Studios on Santa Monica Blvd. and Las Palmas (the studio Harold Lloyd rented for his independent feature films). Here is a photo of the studio. https://silentlocations.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/a31.jpg
Hello again – is there some way to capture some frames of the exterior scenes, and post them so I can see them? Here is the back of the studio from The Blacksmith http://flic.kr/p/eyYGMG
Yes, I’ve seen the Kino edition and the alternate scenes correspond to the ending of the 9.5mm version, but the rest seems to be unavailable. I’ll do my best to capture some of the rare shots. I really believe that this version deserves restoration because it is truly a different film.
Hello, Mr. Bengtson,
I have some captures of the rare BLACKSMITH footage for you to se. Where do I send them?
Hi Fernando – my email is John AT SilentEchoes DOT net
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Going through my emails from the past week and one of them asked if we were having problems seeing any of the images. I can report “no problems” over here!
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Hope you don’t mind I am bookmarking your
site. Can’t wait to pop back.
Dear Mr. Bengston…
Your work is simply outstanding to say the least.
My wife and I own all 3 of your books and we’re both looking forward to the 4th one… and being that we’re both HUGE Hal Roach fans it is our sincere hope that your 4th book be titled “SILENT LAUGHS; Discovering Early Hollywood Through The Lens Of The Hal Roach Studios” … I would imagine that there would be quite a bit of material there to cover from both the film libraries of the Little Rascals and Laurel & Hardy… So how about it Mr. Bengston? Could we expect such an offering from you in the near future?
By the way… my wife has a nagging question she’s been dying to ask you… in regards to the film “THE THREE AMIGOS” … in the scene where the 3 amigos are standing in the street in their long underware at the moment the telegram from the “In Famous” El Guapo arrives via bicycle courier, would you happen to know what street intersection that was in the background??
Best 2014 Wishes and we hope that SILENT LAUGHS will be in works in the very near future.
Jaki San went out and found that location from the end of Three Amigos, the corner of Ince and Carson in Culver City, adjacent to where the Hal Roach Studios used to be located. Here is the corner on Google Street View http://goo.gl/maps/xTNh3
You may find these Hal Roach locations interesting, while we all await John’s Hal Roach Locations book (should he decide to do one!).
Thanks Chris! No pressure to do the book, right? 😉
An event I wanted all you Harold Lloyd and silent film fans to hear about. Harold Lloyd’s classic gem Safety Last! will be playing at the Christopher B. Smith Film Center in San Rafael. Occurring June 2, 7:30 the picture will be accompanied by the live music of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Hope to see you there!
More Info: http://www.cafilm.org/rfc/films/2018.html
John Bengtson http://johnbengtson.wordpress.com/
John, I’m an avid reader of your books; on pg. 80 of Silent Echoes you show a view of what was originally Hollywood Auto Transport and Storage (1896). I’m including this very recent photo. I was the Construction Superintendent for its current incarnation (Cosmo Lofts) by Creative Environments of Hollywood. Please reply via my email address email@example.com
P. S. – I want to recommend a book – “The Ascension of Jerry” by Chip Jacobs – a true story; Jerry was the principal of Cosmo Lofts.
Three solid days spent reading and watching my way through this amazing archive. I’m struck by a number of things; the dedication and precision that have gone into the work, the sometimes devastating effects time and change on architecture and geography, and most importantly, the light that now shines on these great artists and how they worked and lived. I’m keen to book a trip to that beautiful state just so I can stand where Charlie, or Buster or Harold once did…..
Thank you SO much for sharing. Magic indeed…
Thank you so much Joe – I appreciate it. If you want to learn more, this blog is only a supplement to the core information in my books. You can browse them for free on Amazon, and some libraries carry them.
John: Could you give me a call about the Damfinos when you have a chance. I hope you are well. Bruce Levinson 212-750-9898
Hi John – what a fantastic website. We actually just presented Chaplin’s City Lights in concert live last week. The same week, we also released a historic recording of silent film music from J.S. Zamecnik.
You can see the entire story here:
Had such a great time checking out everything on your site, and I thought you might enjoy this.
GM, Erie Chamber Orchestra
Hi Steve – thank you so much! I knew nothing before about J.S. Zamecnik, and enjoyed going over your site. I instantly recognized the music for The Evil Plotter. I wonder where I heard this music employed? Best wishes, John
I’m hoping to make a short movie on films shot in Venice, Italy.
Do you know of any silent movies shot there?
Hi Jonathan – thanks for the note. I am not aware of any silent films made in Venice, although there must have been some. I happened to see, while I was in Venice, that there are at least two comprehensive books, in Italian, about movies filmed on location in Venice. I don’t have the titles. Cheers, John
I found another filming location for Seven Chances with Buster Keaton. You probably already know of it, but it’s the scene with Buster and the platoon of cops walking across the street with the brides not far behind. They are walking south on Rossmore at 10th Street (now Olympic Bl.) The Security Bank on the NE corner has a sign that says “10th and Rossmore Branch”. The location is still very much the same except for the first two houses on Rossmore, south of Olympic, that have been replaced with a mini mall.
Hi Doug – thank you for writing. That scene was filmed at Bronson crossing 10th/Olympic, which I suspect is what you intended to say, as Rossmore terminates at Wilshire before reaching Olympic. I show these locations at pages 160-161 of my book Silent Echoes. You can see this directly, if you find my book on Amazon, by searching for the word “Bronson” using the “Look Inside” tool. This should bring up pages 160 and 161. Thanks again – this location is one of my favorites, as five adjacent bungalows that appear in the film are all still standing. Cheers, John
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Just came across your site and like the subject material. I will be sure to back and do some research as you seem to have plenty of information here to get lost in.
Thank you so much Mike – I appreciate it. John
I make my home in London, Ontario, where one of my hobbies is a fairly extensive 16mm Buster collection, (which I show outdoors to friends and family during week-end evenings in the summer months).
I am just heading home after a trip out west, during which I visited the Cottage Grove and Culp Creek film locations from “The General”, and wanted to say that your “Silent Echoes” was indispensable for locating and understanding the relevant film locations – – although I was also greatly assisted in making my way to the Culp Creek locations through assistance from Lloyd Williams, (from the Cottage Grove Historical Society, as you know).
I explored the various sites thoroughly on April 20-21, 2015, and thought you might appreciate some updates since your last visit, (which I gather, from your other postings, was a number of years ago).
Time and change have continued to work their erasures.
Within Cottage Grove, while most of what you documented is still capable of being located and seen, there have been further changes, and the horizon sightlines have been complicated in a number of ways.
Looking down South River Road, just across Silk Creek, (from the point where Buster is ejected from the recruiting office), the large white barn is no longer there. It apparently was the victim of a fire a few years ago. The foundation, however, is still there and marked.
Standing just north of where the tracks used to be at the north end of N.14th street, looking south to where Buster shot the Marietta street scenes, (i.e., back towards Coiner Park), the view towards Hansen Butte is now blocked by an extensive addition to the western side of the Safeway store, turning it into a rather large mall. In other words, even more of the fields south of the double track portion now have been developed, making it that much harder to imagine the wide open spaces that once served as Buster’s background. One has to go around to the store parking lot to look at the southern horizon…which is now largely impossible to follow from the path of the tracks, (which I followed around to the Main Street crossing).
At the same spot, (from where Buster aimed his camera south to shoot the Marietta street scenes), if one turns north, (where Buster aimed his camera to shoot the Union Camp scenes, etc.), access and sightlines now are prevented by the town’s construction of a city maintenance yard on the railway “triangle” location. The rather large buildings there, all behind tall and locked fences, now prevent one from seeing Mount David from the same angles. (It can be seen, but only by heading down the rail path in various directions for a fair ways, such that the sightlines are quite different.)
(By the way – at the location of the tell-tale grove of trees you noted at the bend of the railway, there now is a MUCH larger and towering grove of trees. I’d like to think they a living link to 1926! Also, there still seems to be a remnant of the approach to the elevated spur, in the form of a rise in the land to the north of the tracks – – in the right location! – – on which a caboose now sits.)
I spent a late afternoon and then a full morning at the Culp Creek site.
In terms of directions, this is where Lloyd Williams was particularly helpful – and I gather from some of the other postings that others have similar challenges finding the location.
As far as I could see, there no longer is any post office trailer at or near the site, so that marker is gone.
I located the site by following the Row River Road east to Culp Creek, to the point where one sees the “Trailhead” sign on the left, (marking the terminus of the Row River hiking and biking trail). At that point, there is now an “official” looking gravel parking lot and washroom to the left (north) side of the road. There is also a de facto gravel parking lot to the right (south) of the road, along the top of the creek/river bank. I gather that is where the Anderson & Middleton bridge used by Kevin Brownlow used to be located – – although I could no longer see any of the concrete footings. (There seems to have been very substantial growth in the river/creek gorge since your photos were taken.)
As per Lloyd’s recommendation, I did not descend into the gorge there, as one then has to follow the river east past two residential properties who apparently assert ownership of the land between their homes and the river.
One instead parks in one of the two lots, walks east past the two houses along the river, (one older and white home, and other more modern and blue in colour), after which there is a safety railing running alongside the southern edge of the road. At the eastern end of that, there is a “path” (noticeable but not very well established, and certainly not for the unsure of foot), that descends to the river/creek. At that point, one is just east of where Buster had his camera pointed back (east) towards the specially constructed trestle, and it’s very easy to identify the locations using the prominent and distinct rock formations depicted in the photographs you’ve included in your book, (still from the film, and the photo from your visit).
It is then possible – with difficulty – to walk east along the river to the site of the trestle itself – – the footing locations of which once again can be definitely sited using your photographs. However, the overgrowth is now VERY substantial, (nothing like the clear areas shown in the film in 1926), and because of the rock and river configurations, it is necessary to head “inland” a bit, (i.e., one can’t just walk along the side of the creek without going into water several feet deep). I would strongly advise anyone intending this to wear long pants and gloves (to grab and move the thorny overgrowth, etc.) Using a long stick also helps!
At the trestle location, there is one rounded piece of rusted steel or tubing wedged at an angle into the rocks on the southern bank, (going down into the water) just at the rocks where the southern trestle poles began. It didn’t look like a rail, (although I am told by Lloyd and see from other reports that one is said to be there, perhaps under water during my visit). What I saw may have been associated with the mill that apparently was located on the southern side of the river/creek at that point, up until the forties or fifties.
From that location, (i.e., the site of the trestle), I actually just went straight up (north) onto the road – – which, from the film, seems to be the descendant of the same road along which the Union troops come riding from the east.
Easier said than done, (to make that ascent), as it is a fairly steep bank there….but the obstructions were floral, rather than trees or tributaries…and, again, use of a walking stick helped make the ascent. (It certainly was a more attractive option then heading back the way I’d came, through the same overgrowth!)
This essentially was the same spot where the railway went out over the gorge/valley in the film – – and that part of the river/creek actually is still quite visible from the road. (It’s one of the few places on that side of the road that DOES allow an unobstructed view down to the creek, and those unable to descend into the valley might at least want to do that. One won’t see the same view as in the film, but at least one can see where the crash happened!)
It was NOT possible to really look south/southwest up the Culp Creek Canyon, anymore. The growth and trees on the south side of the river/creek bank made that pretty much impossible, even in April, before the growth really filled out.
Fyi – when I came up and out of the river/creek valley at that point, looking back, I noticed tattered remnants of what SEEMED to be a couple of “private land” and/or “no trespassing” signs….which I could not see when I ascended the hill from the river/creek running behind them. However, not one of the signs was intact or entirely legible, and it looked like they were posted many decades ago and then forgotten. Most of their lettering was gone or illegible. (One was just a blank and rotting piece of wood, nailed to a post!)
Anyway – no one bothered or confronted me at all, during my visit, (although there were innumerable barking dogs as I walked along the road past the houses!), and I’m told the land by the river is, in fact, public land.
One final note: visitors to the area may want to note that it IS remote, with no cellular phone service, and the four “nearby” residences that are not exactly within sight or earshot once one is down in the river/creek valley. (Two of the homes are quite distant, across the street.) Of necessity, I went there on my own. However, I would strongly recommend that visitors go there with others. The ground is very steep, uneven, rocky and, in many locations, one can not see exactly what is under the substantial undergrowth, in terms of hard/soft or even/uneven footing. Accidents could certainly happen – and someone alone and injured in the valley might very well be placed in an extremely serious situation, without any effective means of getting out or seeking assistance.
In short, I’m very glad to have made it there – but also to have made it out safely.
Anyway – hope this may be of some help to you and others, and thanks so very much for doing all the fascinating groundwork for the rest of the world’s Buster fans.
Ian – London, Ontario
Thank you so much Ian for all of the updates and information. I’m glad you got to meet Lloyd Williams – he was very helpful to me. Best wishes, John
Great commentary, Ian. You always have to wonder if any of the people now living at these sites have any idea of the history of their homesteads. That was one of the most classic scenes in cinematic history… filmed right on their doorstep. You also have to wonder what a little archaeology expedition with metal detectors (or ground penetrating radar!) might turn up.
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I have all three of your books and find them absolutely fascinating and do very much appreciate the hard work involved in compiling the photographs, stills, and individual frames.
I did want to make one suggestion, however.
You repeatedly identify touring cars and roadsters (sometimes known as “runabouts”) as “convertibles” which they are not. Although each body style has a soft folding top, convertibles have fixed, roll up side windows.Touring cars and roadsters do not have windows, they have side curtains which have clear Eisenglass (a sort of clear plastic) panels that are attached to the doors.
Actual convertibles were unusual in the 1920s. In fact, Ford didn’t even offer one until
they introduced the 1929 Model A cabriolet. Touring cars were the most common
body style purchased as they carried four or five people and were much cheaper
than coupes or sedans. Roadsters were generally the bottom of the line unless dressed up as a “sports roadster” with a rumble seat and flashy trim..
A minor point indeed, but one that car-geeks will pick up on.
I love this site and your books! Keep up the good work.
Thank you so much for the information – I had no idea about this, and used “convertible” reflexively. Some one pointed out that I incorrectly called the gas balloon Buster used in the Balloonatic a “hot air” balloon, which should have been obvious, as you can see piles of empty gas canisters on the ground. That said, gas balloon sounds strange to my ear, while hot air balloon connotes the image of a giant balloon supporting a passenger basket. One of the most helpful tools for fixing the date of vintage photos is to identify the make of the cars. Thanks again, John
Do you know if Chaplin’s “One A.M.” was filmed entirely at the Lone Star Studios? It’s obviously all soundstages, except for those first few minutes in the cab on the street. Specifically, I’m wondering about the exterior of his house in the film, which prominently bears the number 8711 next to the door. Was that a real location or a studio exterior constructed for the film?
Hi JW – to my eye it looks very much like a set, just like the building he climbed during the fire in The Fireman was a set (I have photos of that in my book). Also, as an address, 8711 would be quite a bit west of Hollywood, a long way to travel for a shot. Thanks for your question – John
There’s been a discussion re two locations for “Easy Street” (with an assist from your site).
Anything you could add would be much appreciated:
and some info re Eric Campbell’s fatal crash after a night out at Baron Long’s Vernon Country Club:
Thx for your time 🙂
I am no expert but who says it has to mean L.A W(ater) Could also been L:A W(arehouse) or so?
There are photos that show the full building – it says L.A. City Water Co. http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll65/id/5329
Studying the strange ground-plan which fooled me a little and the location of this building more carefully,the gradients surrounding the house it results that it is definitifely the same building in all regarding posts(film and photos).
Also the positions of the chimneys fit seen from the angle of the camera
Diana – I cover this all in my Chaplin book. If you look up Silent Traces on Amazon, the “LOOK INSIDE” feature will allow you to read most of my Easy Street chapter for free. It should answer your questions. There are two shots – i) Chaplin ran south down Olvera, and ii) Chaplin turned the corner, going south on Los Angeles Street, onto the Plaza. I don’t have any info to add re Eric Campbell. Thank you for your interest – John
REALLY great and often fascinating work you did in historic film-locations. ( Lloyds “LADUS TAYLOR” f.E 🙂 I,a born munich from Germany did the same topic with a college born and living in Ludwigshafen (300 Km from munich:-)) with old films and series taken in munich.cause is the film-capital in Germany.So we discovered about 2500 locations of thriller-series and-films taken in munich in nearly 2 years until last summer.The seies were. “Der Kommissar”,”Derrick” “Der Alte” “Der Fahnder” “Die fünfte Kolonne” Inspektor Wanninger” “Unternehmen Kummerkasten” and some other.”Tatort” “Kommissar Freytag” Much of them on Youtube. So if you see the nick “xylfox” there its me.:-) For many locations we searched hours on google-map and street.And munich changed over the decades. So i can fully recognize your work.
Thank you – movies are like time machines, a window into the past. Not just for Los Angeles, but for any place movies are made.
is it appropriate to ask a trivia question?
if so, my apologies.
otherwise, i cannot — for the life of me — find or remember what silent movie featured a chase scene where the crook is first chased by a cop who then tires, sits down to rest, then gives up and walks away, only to then be chased by the crook.
can u help me?
— Feeve :]
Hi Feeve – I wish I could answer your question, but I’m going to need more details. Thank you for your interest – John
Great work as usual on your latest installment “Silent Witness”. For me, the more obscure the better. And this one ranks a solid 10! I usually get your notifications on my cell phone while at work and when I see it’s a message from you, I know it is immediately “coffee time”!
I’m curious about another rather obscure house. It’s a long shot but being as you’re the “go to” guy on this subject I thought I’d ask.
In the Keaton short “The Haunted House” (1921) there are several exterior shots of what appears to be an actual 3 story residence (I base this presumption on the maturity of the foliage and palm trees near the sidewalk). A close up of the front gate, just as actor Joe Roberts is about to pass through, shows an address of 2619. I have screen capture images I could share here but cannot see a way to post them.
I realize this may not be much at all to go on, however I’m sure you’re familiar with the film and may have seen this particular house in other movies of the era. Or perhaps it’s simply a one time use and lost to the sands of time.
Anyway, appreciate any and all input. And of course, keep up the great work!
Greg in Palm Springs
Hi Greg – thank you so much for your kind words, I appreciate it. That home in The Haunted House was the former Dorsey house located at 2619 Figueroa. It was demolished to make way for the Auto Club Building at Fig and W. Adams. Here are two photos of it at the LA Public Library. Thanks again, John
Thanks once more for a quick and accurate reply. I knew you’d know! And, course I recognize the Dorsey house in your pictures now. The (chronilogically later) screen shots I collected have the turret/tower on the left side completely obscured by trees so I could not make the identification. Some redecorating took place as well from your early images of this house to the time when the movie was shot. However, placing the images side by side, there is no question it is the Dorsey house. Another heartbreaking loss to the wrecking ball.
If they offered the Nobel for urban archeology, it would be yours.
Greg in Palm Springs
I was able to meet a wonderful site.
I can not see everything yet, but I translate little by little.
I cannot do it like this professional site.
I am interested in the initial silent movie “ourgang” and I am looking for the location.
I have a question.
Do you know what point this picture is ?
” Police and fire departments, c. 1920’s. ”
This fire departments comes to Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy (1924) one scene.
I want to know the current address here.
Your picture in the link you sent is the City Hall building in Culver City, California.
You can find out all about the locations used in the Our Gang films by viewing the videos on my youtube channel here:
I’m sorry. I don’t know.
Where is Street?
Or Van Buren Place?
Culver Blvd at the corner of Duquesne Avenue is where the City Hall is located.
Thank you for everything.
This neighborhood has changed a lot.
Perhaps this place is the Films location.
I can read “STUDIO CAFE” as a sign that can be seen far away.
What is it?
I can not investigate further. If you have time, please check it.
I think that the GRIMES GENERALL STORE that appears in Buster-Keaton’s “The Hayseed (1919)” is a building of 10416 National Blvd.
Because I am using English software, it may be wrong, but I will excuse you.
Thank you for your valuable time.
It is again.
Maybe it is Van Buren Pl.
I was able to have conviction.
Please give me some more time.
I will UP.
Thank you for your photos and maps. My Harold Lloyd book ‘Silent Visions’ has a map of Palms. My email is John @ silentechoes .net What is the name of the movie where we see the Studio Cafe? Thank you – John
Mr. Bengston — Will Fatty Arbuckle’s filming locations ever be the subject of a new book form you, or should I be satisfied with the mentions of some of his locations in your other books? Thank you
Hi Eric – I gave a talk in San Francisco last year highlighting the three movies he shot in San Francisco and Oakland in 1915. One movie was at Idora Park, long demolished, in Oakland. TCM showed his early feature The Round-Up that was filmed extensively on location in Lone Pine, where so many cowboy movies would later be filmed. There should be more Roscoe films coming out some day on DVD. While there is likely not enough material for a full book, I hope to do posts about him periodically.
Hi Mr. Bengston.
“Silent Visions” which had you introduce it arrived today.
I was excited a lot of pictures.
My one question is already It was written in this book.
I am very happy to see the picture of “Palms School”.
home → Where is this? 2&4
It is a very interesting map.
“ARDEN GROCERY” is “GRIMES GENERAL STORE” by Rothko and Keaton The Hayseed (1919).
home → in Culver City
The “awesome passage of time,” eh, Mr. Bengtson? hola from cochabamba ~ed
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I’m writing a piece on movies shot in Red Hook. I already have my list of films but I would like to include maybe 2 silent films. Please let me know if you know any. Of course I will include a thank note.
Hi Fabienne – I’m afraid I’m not aware of any silent films shot in that neighborhood. Thanks for writing, and good luck with your project – John
I was reading the recent installment about Keaton’s “What, No Beer?” The barrel chase scene was recreated just two years later in The Three Stooges’ film “Three Little Beers.” Wikipedia says it was filmed on a different street, near Echo Park Avenue, but the action is much the same. Keaton was perhaps a gag writer for them at the time, as other bits from his films were revived for Stooges comedies, such as the hat shopping scene in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, Curly playing the Keaton role.
Hi Dave – Jim Pauley writes in his Three Stooges filming location book that they indeed filmed at Scott Avenue, leading down to Echo Park Avenue. I’m not certain whether Keaton had a connection with Columbia at that time. If you search on my blog I have several posts showing overlaps between Keaton’s Columbia shorts and the Stooges.
Keaton made some shorts for Columbia around 1940, but I doubt he did gag work for Columbia. On the other hand, Clyde Bruckman (who worked with Keaton in the 1920s) is credited with both the story and screenplay for Three Little Beers. Bruckman had a habit of “borrowing” gags from other films, including his own previous work. This eventually got him in trouble in the mid-1940s.
I think it would be interesting to track down the locations for the chase sequences in two late-period W. C. Fields films, The Bank Dick (1940) and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). Parts of the chase in The Bank Dick borrow visual gags from Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr (1924). In Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, I think you can see both the Hollywood Freeway, which was new at the time, and the Glendale-Burbank line of the Pacific Electric interurban, with a brand-new double-end PCC car on it. The PE had already shown up in an earlier Fields film, Man on the Flying Trapeze.
Thank you for your comments David. It’s been a while since I’ve seen these WC movies, but I remember how much they feel rooted visually in the 1940s, the way the streets looked, the cars, etc. Already quite different from the silent era barely 20 years prior.
My name is Joe Saltzman and I am a professor of communication and journalism as well as director of the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture (IJPC), a project of the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. I have just published “The Image of the Journalist in Silent Film, 1890 to 1929. Part One, 1890 to 1919” along with 11 appendices and wanted to share it with you. Thanks.
Hi Joe – thank you for sharing this. The research looks very impressive. Of course I haven’t seen as many silent films (and many are lost), but it strikes me I’ve seen dozens of 1930s films depicting newsmen and newsrooms. So lots of work ahead. Cheers, John
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Love your work and dedication!
I’m a screenwriter (as well as an author of some non-fiction books on the art of film), and for research purposes I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of sources on the actual logistics of shooting silent films on the streets of LA. I’m looking for how stringent the permitting was, how they blocked off streets and dealt with passersby, anecdotes from the sets, etc.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for this amazing site.
I grew up a block from Venice and Catturagus and I recently heard this was once the location of the early Essanay studios. anyway of confirming this?
Hi Mike – as far as I know, Essanay didn’t have a studio in LA. They rented for the Chaplin films he made there. I did a quick check (not exhaustive) search of the Sanborn fire insurance maps and do not see there was a film studio at this intersection. You can access the maps at the LA Public Library online if you want to dig deeper into this. John
thanks for the quick reply. I definitely read there was an Essanay studio there before moving to Niles. this intersection is blocks from Hal Roach and MGM and Laurel and Hardy filmed Big Business nearby, So it made sense but I have never been able to verify other than one and only source I had read. interesting side note, as a kid i always wondered why the old dilapidated building on the corner looked like an old western saloon and was diagonal on the corner like the Hal Roach Studio. never thinking that it was the remains of a long lost silent movie studio.
Maybe they rented the buildings on Venice and Catturagus
Hi Michael – I forgot to mention that Essanay worked out of the rented Majestic Studios out at 651 Fairview Ave in Boyle Heights. As I write in my Chaplin book Silent Traces, they filmed “The Bank” there.
Hi John, I’m quite fascinated by your books and admire your research skills. I think I’ve picked up a few pointers from you, as I’ve pinpointed some locations from other films. I look for the unusual architectural details, any signage and for towers that might be significant landmarks. Much thanks for showing how it’s done!
Thanks William – did you find anything fun you care to share? One problem with always looking for architectural details is that you can end up missing out on the story!
Dear Mr Bengtson:
I saw your wonderful presentations at the Last Remaining Seats screening of “City Lights”” at the Los Angeles Theatre and the screening of “The Great Dictator” at the Alex Theatre. I have a question and figured you would be the definitive authority.
Wikipedia lists the old Warner Brothers Studio at 5800 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, as the studio where “The Jazz Singer” was filmed, and I’m hearing from people who worked at the facility throughout its various incarnations that they have heard the same thing.
But now I’m also hearing that the studio footage was either entirely or partly shot at the old Vitagraph Studios (which became the Warner Brothers Studio) located on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Talmadge Street (now the Prospect Studios).
Any information would be greatly appreciated. And thanks in advance for your time and attention.
Hi Eitan – wow, that’s really great you were able to attend those shows, thank you. I checked Steve Bingen’s wonderful book “Warner Bros.- Hollywood’s Ultimate Backlot,” and he writes about the Warner East Hollywood Annex, still located at 4151 Prospect, that was sold to ABC in 1948. Steve writes at page 211 “WB films shot, or partially shot, on the lot include The Jazz Singer (Stage 5 is where they shot the interior club scenes).” I hope this helps – thanks, John
That helps a lot. Thanks a lot for the quick response, it’s greatly appreciated.
Dear John, I’m hoping you can resolve a mystery regarding Battling Butler. Jean Louis Schafer’s book L’Homme ordinaire du cinéma reproduces and comments on a still said to be from Battling Butler, showing someone, not Keaton, holding an extremely large map of the US, next to a car that looks like the Rolls in that film. But I can’t find a map scene of any kind in Battling Butler. You can see the still here:
Any suggestions much appreciated.
Everyone, check out Roland-François’s fantastic website https://www.thecinetourist.net/ with posts about London, Paris, and other European filming locales. His post about Max Linder filming extensively on rue Louis Besquel in Vincennes, near Paris, is remarkable – it still looks the same today. https://www.thecinetourist.net/wheres-max.html
Regarding your question, I agree that this comes from Battling Butler. The car appears to be the same as the one appearing in the film, and I’ve found a similar still of Buster and Snitz Edwards beside the car getting directions from Sally O’Neill. The shadows in your photo are harsh, but I think it looks like Buster. https://silentlocations.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/Battling-Butler-asking-directions.jpg
Hi John, I’d like a short interview with you re the Ontario scenes in The Freshman. I’m the newspaper columnist there for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Email me with your # if you would to dallen (at) http://scng.com or phone me at 909-483-9339. Thank you! — David Allen
Fantastic site. I love this
how do we subscribe??
Thank you Gregory. The right hand column list of links and resources is broken occasionally by horizontal blue tabs that should be the “subscribe” button. Thanks, John
Your blog is a wonderful, fascinating resource. Thank you for all your work.
I am a collector of vintage photos and memorabilia to do with Cliff Edwards, AKA ‘Ukulele Ike’ (1895 -1971). Edwards was a friend of Buster Keaton and they appeared together in many (talkie) movies. My collection includes hundreds of original, vintage photos.
I run a ‘Ukulele Ike’ Twitter page here:
Keep up the great work. Subscribed.
Kind regards – Terry Chapman
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Thank you Terry. Cliff and Buster made a wonderful team. Their MGM scenes were far superior to those with Durante. Cliff was quite funny, but his humor supported Buster rather than screaming over Buster. They both played the ukulele too. I’ve become more acquainted with “classic era” films, and Cliff brightens so many films. I didn’t realize he was so busy.
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Thanks John. If you ever need photos or info about Cliff Edwards please contact me. I’m willing to share what I have.
—> Only for information,
Roland Lack with me at the cinematéque Française (in french).
Denis (from Vincennes)
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Hi, John. Thank you for an excellent blog. Could you point me to where I can obtain the original uncropped high-resolution photo of the “Bison Film Company site in 1905 at 1712 Allesandro Street Edendale California (1)?” I am writing an article about the history of Edendale studios. https://thekeystonegirlblogs.wordpress.com/ has a low resolution version (about halfway down the page). I’d like to use the original uncropped high-resolution version in my article. Thank you. Mike Forster, Palo Alto.
Thank you for your great blog and books (I have all 3). I also enjoyed you tour around Buster Keaton’s studio and was curious to know if you knew anything about when Ben Kitay Studios was built and if it has any silent era history other than the empty lot being the location of the cottage in The Scarecrow. I’m an artist who has had paintings on the walls of Ben Kitay studios (Ben told me there was some Buster Keaton history at his corner), and when they did some refurbishing of one of the stages,the stage manager offered me some big chunks of white cyc (to make art out of) with years of paint layers! Now I’m sure Mr. Keaton never walked on that stage but after learning the real history of the plaques and seeing your work, I wondered if you knew anything about the current stage (Now BLT Studios.) Guess I’ll try to track down some building permits! Thanks again for your great works.
Hi! Thanks for doing all this work to help us learn about the silent era. Here’s a photo from my blog showing the Keystone Cops in the 1939 Hollywood Cavalcade movie: https://1939socal.wordpress.com/2020/07/26/keystone-cops-in-1939-film/ . The “Cops” appeared in it because it covered the transition from silents to talkies — so I’ve read because I haven’t seen the film. This publicity photo was released in 1939 but I’m thinking that it is really from 1918 as the location seems to be the same as a similar photo here: http://www.pacificelectric.org/los-angeles-railway/a-tale-of-two-maggies-lary-nos-1-and-7/ . I don’t know what the location is, though. Scoll down to the bottom of the link to see an update of the location: end of the Edgeware Road line at the intersection of Douglas Street and Kensington Road. I don’t think that this is the correct location.
How can I find out if “my” photo is from 1939 or 1918 and where it was actually shot?
With the 100th anniversary of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s first film appearance together coming up next year, has the location been established as to where that first scene was filmed? Oliver plays a thief who robs Stan on a street corner. I see up to that point a lot of the film was performed around the Los Angeles Ostrich Farm. Was that one scene filmed there as well?
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