Author Archives: John Bengtson

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

Buster Keaton’s Scarecrow Adobe

I’m delighted to host guest blogger Jeffrey Castel de Oro’s amazing post regarding the early California history appearing in Buster Keaton’s The Scarecrow. A friend for 20 years, Jeff has contributed many significant locations and photographs to all of my … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Culver City, The Scarecrow | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Silent Hollywood’s Japanese Enclave

The great silent film comedians Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd filmed more frequently on the 1600 block of Cahuenga south of Hollywood Boulevard than at any other street in town. Keaton alone filmed scenes for eight different movies … Continue reading

Posted in Hollywood History, Hollywood Tour, The Goat | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How Mary Pickford Filmed Daddy-Long-Legs Part Two

In Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) Mary Pickford portrays an endearing young orphan later sent to college by an anonymous benefactor. Complications ensue when Mary meets her sponsor, unaware of his status, and they fall for each other. Pickford’s most financially successful production … Continue reading

Posted in Mary Pickford, The Kid | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Chaplin’s Earliest Scenes Beside the Selig Studio

When Charlie Chaplin began his film career at the Keystone Studio in 1914, the Selig Polyscope studio (above) stood just two blocks to the north, sandwiched between Clifford and Duane Streets along Allesandro (now Glendale Boulevard) in Edendale. Opening in … Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Edendale, Keystone Studio, Tillie's Punctured Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Harpo, Chico, and James Cagney at the Brunswig Mansion

Imagine the star power – Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, and James Cagney all once stood on the same mansion front steps. Classic Los Angeles homes frequently played roles in golden-age films, and the former Brunswig Mansion, once standing at 3528 … Continue reading

Posted in James Cagney, Marx Brothers | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Early Thrill Comedies – Who Was First?

Thrill comedies featuring a star hanging from the side of a tall building have long been a staple of silent films. The photo at left from Play Ball (1925) eloquently explains the brilliant technique with a single image. Starting with … Continue reading

Posted in Los Angeles Historic Core | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Harry Houdini Solves a Charlie Chaplin Mystery!

Harry Houdini helped to discover where Charlie Chaplin filmed crucial scenes for his very first movie Making a Living (1914). The initial scene of Charlie’s entire career (below), discovered by Kevin Dale and reported HERE, was staged in front of … Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, Los Angeles Historic Core | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

How Mary Pickford Filmed Daddy-Long-Legs Part One

In Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) Mary Pickford portrays an endearing young orphan later sent to college by an anonymous benefactor. Complications ensue when Mary meets her sponsor, unaware of his status, and they fall for each other. In what was Pickford’s most … Continue reading

Posted in Mary Pickford, The Kid | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Schindler

Several years ago, following my introduction of Sherlock Jr. at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles architect John Trautmann approached me to ask if I had noticed the famous Schindler house which appears in the background as Buster speeds … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Sherlock Jr. | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The nearly last – Safety Last – joke

Surviving his heroic climb up a skyscraper during Safety Last!, Harold Lloyd falls into the arms of his loving fiancé Mildred Davis, waiting for him on the rooftop. As reported in another post, this satisfying conclusion was actually filmed from … Continue reading

Posted in Harold Lloyd, Los Angeles Historic Core, Safety Last! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Office – Film Noir – and Harold Lloyd

What do the television show The Office, the 1950 film noir drama Edge of Doom, and Harold Lloyd’s final silent comedy Speedy (1928) have in common?  They all filmed scenes looking southwest down Witmer Street towards the front of the … Continue reading

Posted in Film Noir, Harold Lloyd, Speedy, The Office, TV Shows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Chaplin, Keaton, and Lois Weber’s “Suspense” in Beverly Hills

The beautiful new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers features dozens of early films created by women, many unseen for decades. One highlight is Lois Weber’s home invasion thriller Suspense (1913). As shown in a prior post, the film provides … Continue reading

Posted in Beverly Hills, Lois Weber, The Blacksmith | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Alice Howell Early Hollywood Views

We all owe Ben Model a huge debt of gratitude for releasing his fantastic new Alice Howell Collection DVD, featuring 12 shorts starring the delightful (and mostly forgotten) comedienne, sourced from archival materials from the Library of Congress, BFI, DFI, … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Hollywood Heritage in Lois Weber’s Suspense

The beautiful new Kino Lorber Blu-ray release Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers is a revelation, a six-disc set featuring dozens of early films created by women, many unseen for decades. One highlight is Lois Weber‘s innovative and aptly titled home invasion thriller Suspense … Continue reading

Posted in Hollywood History, Lois Weber | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Harold Lloyd’s The Kid Brother Was Close to Home

It’s time to celebrate the wonderful new Blu-ray release of Harold Lloyd’s classic comedy The Kid Brother by the Criterion Collection. Considered by many to be Lloyd’s masterpiece, this release is simply stunning, a beautiful clear crisp print, a choice … Continue reading

Posted in Harold Lloyd | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Buster’s Paramount Backlot Plunge

I’m pleased to update this post to announce that the 2019 San Francisco Silent Film Festival will conclude Sunday May 5, with a 8:00 pm screening of Buster Keaton’s second feature comedy Our Hospitality (1923), to be accompanied by the … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman

I’m pleased to update this post to announce the 2019 San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicks off this year on Wednesday, May 1, with a 7:00 pm screening of Buster Keaton’s 1928 comedy triumph The Cameraman, in a beautiful new … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Manhattan, The Cameraman | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Green Acres, Pickfair, Chaplin’s Breakaway Home, and Keaton’s Italian Villa

Below, 1937, Harold Lloyd’s Green Acres (red), Doug and Mary’s Pickfair (blue), Charlie Chaplin’s home (yellow), and Buster Keaton’s Italian Villa (orange). Who knew they were all spaced so close together? I knew Charlie Chaplin’s home (yellow above and left) … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Doug Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments