Author Archives: John Bengtson

Charlie, Buster, and Harold Silent Footsteps LA Tour

Hosted by the Los Angeles City Historical Society, Charlie, Buster, and Harold will lead a silent footsteps tour across Bunker Hill, Chinatown, Olvera Street, and other historic downtown locations on Tuesday April 20 at 2 pm, to replayed later on … Continue reading

Posted in Los Angeles Historic Core | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Columbo and Mannix Save Us, Again

Comfort viewing classic-era TV shows during the pandemic has brought legions of new fans to Peter Falk’s Columbo. There’s something safe and reassuring about watching a humble and dedicated public servant do his duty, and bring wealthy, self-entitled criminals to … Continue reading

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Early Hollywood Visual Tour at HippFest 2021

Scotland’s HippFest Silent Film Festival starts tomorrow, Wednesday March 17 through Sunday March 21. Hosted virtually this year, the festival usually plays in Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema The Hippodrome in Bo’ness. The programs will be available through a new streaming … Continue reading

Posted in Hollywood History | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Buster Keaton’s Early Days on Los Feliz

Straight from their opening-scene wedding in One Week (1920), staged on the steps of the Congregational Sunday School at the SE corner of Lillian Way and Romaine (kitty-corner from the Keaton Studio), Buster and Sybil Seely drive west along Los … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Convict 13, One Week | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Incredible new Laurel “OR” Hardy film collection

Flicker Alley’s exciting new Laurel OR Hardy Blu-ray release offers a wide collection of early films created by Stan Laurel or Oliver Hardy, but each as solo stars before being paired as the world’s most beloved comedy duo. Beautifully restored … Continue reading

Posted in Chaplin - Keaton - Lloyd Alley, Laurel and Hardy | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Lens of History – Hollywood before the Chaplin Studio

Above, only part of a vast panoramic view looking south at Hollywood, circa 1906. Can you spot the future site of the Charlie Chaplin Studio, nearly straight ahead? The hill in the foreground would become in 1914 the site to … Continue reading

Posted in Chaplin Studio, Charlie Chaplin, Hollywood History | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

Live Virtual Silent Locations Tour with Esotouric

This Saturday January 16, at noon PST, Esotouric, L.A.’s most eclectic sightseeing tour company, is hosting my live virtual silent cinema scavenger hunt through L.A.’s historic Westlake neighborhood. Though webcast live, the event may be viewed later. Click the link … Continue reading

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Mary Pickford’s “A Beast at Bay” a century before LAX

Mary Pickford’s A Beast at Bay (1912), directed by D.W. Griffith, portends his 1916 feature Intolerance, overlaps with later films starring Mabel Normand, Douglas Fairbanks, and Buster Keaton, and reveals the future site of LAX (!), the Los Angeles International … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, One Week, The Goat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Buster’s Brazen Bystanders

Bystanders appear frequently in the background of early films, a charming reminder of how the public witnessed the cinematic artform blossom, not only in theaters, but before their very eyes on the streets where they were made. The young girls … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Cops | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Doug and Mary, Hedda and Jed, The Beverly Hillbillies Hollywood Appeal

What popular 1960s sitcom mentions Nita Naldi, twice, in the same episode? Where Douglas Fairbanks is scolded for pulling pranks, and a prescient plea is made to spare a classic-era movie studio from the wrecking ball? Psychologists say conjuring nostalgia … Continue reading

Posted in Hollywood History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The Remarkable Charlie Chaplin Archives

The Charlie Chaplin Archives, housed in Bologna and accessible online, hosts thousands of rare photographs, production logs, scripts, and other fascinating studio records and documentation from Chaplin’s life and long career. Pick a favorite film, or subject of interest, and … Continue reading

Posted in Chaplin Studio, City Lights | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Buster, Harold, Mabel, and Doug, and the murder of Wm. Desmond Taylor!

This post contains a variety of odds and ends. To begin, thanks to Tommy Dangcil we can see exactly where Buster Keaton staged a scene from Cops (1922) in front of the grand stairway leading to the former First Baptist … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Doug MacLean, Harold Lloyd, Mabel Normand | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Lyons & Moran – the “good” old days on New High Street

One of my all-time favorite discoveries are the young girls caught on camera intently watching Charlie Chaplin filming scenes from The Kid (1921) (read more HERE). A closer study of Harold Lloyd’s early short From Hand to Mouth (1919) reveals … Continue reading

Posted in Chaplin - Keaton - Lloyd Alley, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Lyons and Moran, The Kid | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Buster Keaton, Go West | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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, Lyons and Moran | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 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

Posted in Buster Keaton, The Goat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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