Author Lectures – Programs

Videos of Author Lectures

I have lectured now at seventy events and festivals across the country, and have prepared sixteen DVD/Blu-ray bonus programs, examining the locations and history hidden in the background of classic silent films. John on IMDb

All five of my visual essays for the Criterion Collection Blu-rays are now streaming on the Criterion Channel.

An all-time hero, Leonard Maltin reviewed our Time Travelers bonus program for Criterion’s The Cameraman Blu-ray release as “breathtaking – I’ve never seen a more meaningful or resonant presentation of then and now footage.” Here’s my post about the program by filmmaker Daniel Raim.

I am very pleased with my bonus documentary Close to Home on the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of Harold Lloyd’s The Kid Brother.

A short segment from the Locations and Effects 2013 documentary with Academy-Award winning effects supervisor Craig Barron and the author filmed for the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of the Safety Last!

Here is a brief intro to my 16 minute visual essay Harold Lloyd: Big Man on Campus, that looks at the college and football locations appearing the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of The Freshman.

My all-new “Amazing Tales” presentation for the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, covering in part the hidden interplay between movies filmed in Hollywood and in San Francisco.

Silent Footsteps across Los Angeles – hosted by the Los Angeles City Historical Society

My brief “Silent Echoes” speech at the Keaton Studio plaque dedication on June 16, 2018. I first thought the link said “Plague Bengtson!” 🙂

My talk about The General at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 2011 Summer of Silents series is posted here.

My talk about The Pilgrim and Modern Times at the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society’s 2011 ChaplinFest, from within the very train station where Chaplin filmed The Pilgrim, is posted below.  Further below is the site of the Modern Times finale on Google Maps.

Vimeo Link to Lecture

Author Bonus Programs on DVD and Blu-ray

I have provided commentary, visual essays, and/or location tour programs to each of these Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd DVD and Blu-ray releases.

The Cameraman Criterion Collection

Go West – Eureka Masters of Cinema

The Freshman Criterion Collection

Safety Last! Criterion Collection; a nice review of my program (here)

College Ultimate Edition

Seven Chances Ultimate Edition

Buster Keaton: The Shorts Collection (1920-1923)

Sherlock Jr. and Three Ages Ultimate Edition (programs for both films)

Chaplin Modern Times Criterion Collection; a review of my program (here)

Chaplin at Keystone

The General Ultimate Edition

Keaton Plus

TCM Buster Keaton Collection: The Cameraman/Spite Marriage

Biography (A&E): Buster Keaton

Chris Nichols of Los Angeles Magazine 30 second review of Silent Echoes.

Below, Tokyo film critic Daisuke Beppu reviews The Cameraman, describing my new Time Travelers bonus documentary at 1:40 as “absolutely extraordinary.” Here’s the link to his full review – Thank you Daisuke.

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John Bengtson is a business lawyer and film historian 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

John on IMDb

17 Responses to Author Lectures – Programs

  1. Dear John Bengtson,

    My name is Christoph Eppacher and I am a young architect doing a academic/artistic research at the moment about the connection between silent movies and architecture. I am based in Los Angeles at the moment as a resident of the MAK Schindler program.
    My project will focus on the observation of silent movies made and filmed in Los Angeles between the beginning in LA (Edendale) to its glorious times.
    What I am looking for in terms of Architecture are interesting spacial, atmospheric and also obscure – absurd configuration of spaces places, facades, objects etc. in connection to people, random accidents, mystical places…etc.
    It is more my personal interest and also my will and hope to find something unique in terms of architectural and artistic language in those films which I could further use or embed in a current architectural discussion.
    But what I am directly asking you as I am still waiting for the ordered books to be sent to me, if there is first any sort of complete list of silent films which were made during the golden age of silent movie in Los Angeles (probably including Title, Directors Name, Actor, Year, StudioName etc…) or as another question as I am kind of new in the field of silent movies( sure I know some, but I am absolutely no expert – but of course highly interested). Where would you recommend me to start with what type of movies; are there any collections that I can watch for example in an archive-because buying a lot of movies might be to expensive… Just simply asking, where would you recommend me to go for watching a lot of Silent Movies in LA
    ( Archive , Studio etc…)
    And also if you have any movies in mind which could be obviously very interesting for me as an architect.
    I would be very grateful If you can help me with your unique knowledge of Silent Movies.

    Also I would like to thank you for the great online blog and your books I will really enjoy reading them and thinking about this content a lot!

    Best regards
    and thanks for your
    help in advance

    Christoph Eppacher


  2. Hi Christoph – thank you for your message. I’ll reply further offline, after I have had time to think about this.

    I have to chuckle. Do you know that the Schindler House on Kings Road appears in the background during a scene in Buster Keaton’s 1924 film Sherlock Jr.?



  3. Hello John,
    Thank you for your quick reply; Yes I know, very funny because it is exactly the institution where I am doing this program…But I need watch the hole movie soon.


  4. Bob Molee says:

    Dear John Bengtson,
    My name is Bob Molee. I live in New Jersey, and I have always been fascinated with movie locations. I’ve seen the houses in Staten Island where THE GODFATHER and SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS were filmed, Woody Allen film locations, Martin Scorsese, and of course, The Sopranos. I am a Fedex courier, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to deliver a package to the actual house they used as Tony’s in the show ! It was quite surreal to walk up that driveway.
    Whenever I am in the Los Angeles area, I love to visit the locations where famous scenes were filmed, but I have a special place in my heart for the filming locations of Laurel and Hardy and the Our Gang comedies. I have visited the (depressing) site where the Hal Roach Studios were located (now a car dealership), and I have visited the locations where L&H filmed the house thrashing and of course, the HOLY GRAIL of locations (for me), the staircase they used in The Music Box.
    I absolutely LOVED your Silent Visions book focusing on the films of Harold Lloyd. What a wonderful job you did with the “then and now” photos. I can stare at the “now” photos and be transported back to those days so long ago. Your books “speak” to me in ways I can’t explain. To think, that on THIS street or in front of THAT building, legends like Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, or Laurel & Hardy performed their scenes. Do the people now living in those neighborhoods KNOW, or even CARE about the film history they live amongst ???
    I’ve always been interested in the films of Harold Lloyd. Now, thanks to your new book, I want to see ALL his comedies.
    Allow me to share with you the excitement and amazement I felt while I was reading your Silent Visions/Harold Lloyd book…page 274, Harold filming “SPEEDY” in lower New York City. The trolley car tracks are STILL THERE !!!!!!! That’s what I’m talking about !!!! (LOL).
    I am disappointed that I missed your appearance in Astoria on October 16th. I would love to meet you and have my book autographed by you. When will you be back for another appearance ?
    Mr. Bengtson, I hope that you will do Silent Visions books on Laurel & Hardy and the Our Gang Comedies. I appreciate and respect all the hard work you have put into your books. I wish you health and happiness.
    Bob Molee


  5. Hi Bob – thank you for the kind message. Wow, that must have been really weird to deliver the package to Tony Soprano’s house! Be sure to check out the tours I have prepared for the next time you visit LA.

    Thanks again,


  6. Pingback: Charming Third Time for Seven Chances | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  7. Yohann bousseau says:

    Merci beaucoup mr Bengston
    I m a french Man who love old american And french cinema, i Went to los angeles ni 2008. It was magic for me to see the Chaplin studio, the gate of paramount studio….
    I m proud to see The michelin (french company) tire signe in Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film The Goat ‘-)
    One of my favorite film Is sunset boulevard (“boulevard du crépuscule” in french)

    Is it possible to buy the Chaplin book ….autographed by you?

    Thank s a lot for Your work and sorry i dont speak english very well

    Vive le cinéma américain


    • Yohann – thank you so much for your kind message. It is possible to send you an autographed copy of my Chaplin book. Please contact me directly at my email
      John @ silentechoes . net.
      A bientot, John


  8. Sean Shaul says:

    Hi John,
    I’m a Vancouver-based filmmaker and I’m beginning work on my fourth documentary, a film looking at the life and career of Canadian-born silent filmmaker Mack Sennett. I wanted to reach out to you to see if you would be interested in sitting down with us for a short interview to talk about Sennett’s legacy in cinema.

    If this is possible or I can answer any questions you may have, please send me drop me a line at and maybe we can set something up.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,
    Sean Patrick Shaul
    Prairie Coast Films


  9. dupont says:

    if you don’t mind visiting my work of PATHé films (before 1914) in Vincennes FRANCE.

    Best regards


  10. David Jendrycki says:

    Hi John,

    As a history/silent film buff, I want to thank you for your wonderful books of then and now.
    I live in Chicago where the historic Essanay Studios building still exists. It is now St Augustine College but the school board takes great pride in the historical nature of the building and does its very best to preserve and protect it. The original studio entrance is still there with the Essanay lettering still intact as well as the iconic Indian head logos on each side of it.
    There are still vestiges of the old studio there such as a backlot cameraman’s perch, An enormous backstage door used for bringing in big pieces of scenery, a hidden film vault in the basement, editing rooms and an original catwalk for hanging stage lights. The stage where Chaplin filmed his first movie for the company, His New Job, is also still there and is now the Charlie Chaplin Auditorium. It’s a wonderful place rich with film history.
    Would you ever consider a book of Laurel & Hardy or Keystone Film locations?
    I wish I could attend your lecture on The Great Dictator. It sounds great and I wish you all the best.
    Keep digging up those gold nuggets for us.

    David Jendrycki


    • Hi David – thank you for your kind remarks. I’ve studied the Blu-ray of Chaplin’s A New Job made in Chicago at Essanay – during one shot the studio door is open, and you can see the porch of a house on Argyle across the street. Based on the Sanborn maps, my best sense is that the house to appear is at 1322 W Argyle, across from the east end of Studio A, only the balcony over the entrance to 1322 has now been removed (the maps show it had a balcony, and you can see discoloration showing where it was removed). A house at 1328 still has its similar balcony over the entrance, but the column details supporting the 1328 balcony differ from the details appearing in the movie. The porch columns in the movie are Ionic, different from 1328. I only have Google street view to look at, but this is my best guess. Thanks again, John


  11. Hi John,
    Thank you for your great blog and books (I have all 3). I also enjoyed you tour around Buster Keaton’s studio and was curios to know if you knew anything about when Ben Kitay Studios was built and if it has any silent era history other that 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 I’m sure Buster never walked on that stage but after learning the real history of the plaques and your work, but I wondered if knew anything. Guess I’ll try to track down some building permits! Thanks again for your great works.

    Liked by 1 person

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