Author Archives: John Bengtson

Buster Keaton’s Go West Desert – “Frozen” in Time

Vintage movies are time machines, preserving fashion styles, means of transport, and urban locales for us to marvel at decades later. But when filmed at a remote locale, they also remind us a passing century is merely an eye-blink in … Continue reading

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Time Travel to 1919 Hollywood

Imagine when Hollywood was still a town, with stately homes, dirt roads, orchards, and scores of vacant lots. Vintage photos are compelling, but silent films are true time machines, placing you at the spot to see and breathe a slice … Continue reading

Posted in Chaplin - Keaton - Lloyd Alley, Hollywood History | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops

CHASE! A Tribute to the Keystone Cops, honors these still universally recognized icons of silent comedy with an anthology of entertaining and informative essays assembled and edited by Lon & Debra Davis. Historian Sam Gill provides the foreword, joined by … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton – Hard Luck, The Goat – closeups at Westlake Park

Vintage movies and photos are time machines. This rare 1923 photo reveals exactly where Buster Keaton flees from Big Joe Roberts during The Goat (1921) nearly a century ago. This detail looks SE at the 7th Street and Alvarado corner … Continue reading

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Time Travelers: Uncovering Old LA in Keaton Comedies

Criterion’s The Cameraman Blu-ray is loaded with extras, including Oscar-nominated Daniel Raim’s 2020 documentary Time Travelers: Uncovering Old LA in Keaton Comedies, revealing newly discovered connections between Keaton’s MGM debut and the earliest films of his career. Raim’s recent works … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Culver City, The Cameraman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Buster Keaton – Ghosts of Go West

I’m pleased to share another post by guest blogger Jeffrey Castel de Oro, who has made many wonderful Keaton discoveries over the years (read his popular prior post about the adobe appearing in Buster’s The Scarecrow HERE.) This ghostly image … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Go West | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Caught on Camera – Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman in New York

The Criterion Collection’s stunning new Blu-ray release of Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman and Spite Marriage is loaded with bonus special features, including a new documentary Time Travelers I had the privilege of making with historian Marc Wanamaker and Oscar-nominated director … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Manhattan, The Cameraman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Charlie Chaplin’s Once Lost Film – A Thief Catcher

A once lost Chaplin film rediscovered?! It made international headlines a decade ago when producer-historian Paul Gierucki found and preserved A Thief Catcher (1914), a Ford Sterling comedy featuring Charlie Chaplin in a supporting role portraying a Keystone Cop. You … Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Edendale, Keystone Studio, Mabel Normand | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Arbuckle and Keaton Filmed in Culver City Years Before Laurel and Hardy

Harold Lloyd and Snub Pollard filmed comedies for producer Hal Roach at the Bradbury Mansion Rolin Studio, on Court Hill in downtown Los Angeles, for years before Roach opened his new studio in Culver City in 1920. (Read how they … Continue reading

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Harold Lloyd’s Earliest Days Filming in Edendale

The cinematic roots for the three great kings of comedy, Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, trace back to the earliest days of filmmaking. As reported HERE, Chaplin staged scenes from his 1914 Keystone films Those Love Pangs and Tillie’s Punctured Romance … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton – More Backlot Scenes From Our Hospitality

Buster Keaton’s modest studio made it necessary for him to film many famous scenes at other studios with larger backlots. His pursuit through an archway by an army of police at the climax of Cops (1922) was filmed at the … Continue reading

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How Laurel and Hardy Filmed Duck Soup

Although they had appeared onscreen together in The Lucky Dog (1921), the Hal Roach short Duck Soup (1927) marks the first time Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were paired as comedy leads. They play a couple of hoboes who flee … Continue reading

Posted in Beverly Hills, Bunker Hill, Duck Soup, Laurel and Hardy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Keaton’s The Cameraman on the Santa Monica Pier

For their first date in The Cameraman (1928) Buster Keaton and Marceline Day strip down and go swimming in a public pool, because, why not? As reported in my book Silent Echoes, their natatorium adventure was filmed inside the Venice … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, The Cameraman, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Three Good Fellows – Harold Lloyd, Doug MacLean, and Ben Model

Musician Ben Model is a silent film super-hero. Aside from his duties as resident accompanist for MoMA in New York, the Library of Congress, and performing at silent screenings around the county, his indie Undercrank Productions has released over 20 … Continue reading

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Buster, Harold, and Stymie at the Venice Pier

A prior post explains Buster Keaton and Orson Welles crossed paths filming in Venice, California. But what about Buster and Our Gang superstar Stymie Beard? Above Buster in The High Sign (1920) and Orson directing A Touch of Evil (1958). … Continue reading

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Mary Pickford, the Talmadge Sisters, and Buster Keaton at the Brunton Studio

The Hoodlum (1919), Mary Pickford’s second independent production, followed her triumphant debut self-production Daddy Long Legs (1919). DDL brims with so much Los Angeles history and locations it took two lengthy posts to cover them all, HERE and HERE, and … Continue reading

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Keaton’s Missing Scene and Cameraman Tricks

Early in The Cameraman (1928) neophyte newsreel photographer Buster Keaton submits his double-exposed mistake-filled audition movie footage to the M-G-M Newsreel General Offices in ‘New York,’ resulting in a complete disaster. At left, Buster watches in horror as his double-exposed … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, The Cameraman | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Silent Comedy’s Crazy Corner

Quick – what are some essential elements for a silent comedy? A park bench? An angry cop? A banana peel? If you think about it, one absolutely essential geographic element is the humble street corner. It doesn’t matter what the … Continue reading

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Happy “Roaring Twenties” New Year at Keaton’s Bungalow

Happy New Year everyone! For some reason 2020 and its prior century silent-era counterpart resonate with me more so than 2019-1919 ever did. The Roaring Twenties are with us again. This widely viewed classic photo of Buster making his 1929 … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Culver City, Keaton Studio | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Buster Keaton at the Selig Studio “Prison”

I only recently became aware of the Selig Polyscope Studio, the first permanent studio built in Los Angeles that opened in 1909 two blocks north from where the Keystone Studio would later open. Focusing on the facility’s distinctive walls and … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Convict 13, Edendale | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments