Category Archives: Buster Keaton

The Kid, Cops, Intolerance revealed in a 125 year old photo

When the great silent comedians filmed the streets of LA one hundred or more years ago, many of those settings were already decades old. Focusing on a single vintage photo, let’s explore one of the most fascinating film locations in … Continue reading

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Harold Lloyd’s “Hot Water” Sherlock turkey troubles

Wrangling a live turkey on a trolley, forced to walk it home, overlapping Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr., even more visual history is now revealed from Harold Lloyd’s Hot Water (1924). Newlywed Harold’s day is shattered when his better half calls … Continue reading

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Case Closed! How Buster Keaton filmed Sherlock Jr.

Hosted by the Catalina Museum for Art and History, earlier this year I had the thrill and honor to introduce their screening of Buster Keaton’s brilliant comedy Sherlock Jr. (1924), accompanied by renowned pianist and composer Michael D. Mortilla. With … Continue reading

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Keaton Sherlock Jr. – Valentino Blood and Sand – at Avalon Silent Film Showcase

Buster Keaton’s brilliant comedy Sherlock Jr., and Rudolph Valentino’s smoldering performance as a conflicted bullfighter in Blood and Sand, highlight this year’s Avalon Silent Film Showcase, hosted on Catalina Island at the beautiful Avalon Casino Theatre, on May 13 – … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton’s Lost and Found “Seven Chances” Homes

During Seven Chances (1925) Buster’s character discovers on his 27th birthday he must marry by seven o’clock that evening in order to inherit a $7M fortune. After ineptly proposing to his longtime girlfriend, he speeds off to a country club … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton’s riverbank footsteps – Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Buster Keaton filmed his final independent production Steamboat Bill, Jr. on location in Sacramento. The movie opens with an elegant scene filmed at the tip of what is now Discovery Park, slowly panning right to left from the American river … Continue reading

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Take the Tour – the Buster Keaton Studio

I first read Rudi Blesh’s biography Keaton in junior high, and was immediately hooked by Buster’s magic and the romance of early filmmaking. I grew up watching silent comedies on public television, and collecting 8mm prints of Charlie Chaplin and … Continue reading

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Solved! Buster Keaton’s Mystery Colegrove Building

Buster Keaton was a pragmatic filmmaker, and it’s been fun discovering how often he would shoot simple scenes nearby, or even across the street from his small Hollywood studio once standing at 1025 Lillian Way. Appearing as both a receiving … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Hollywood History, The Goat | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 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

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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

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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

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

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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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

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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

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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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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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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 , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments