Category Archives: Los Angeles Historic Core

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

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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

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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

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The “Never Give A Sucker An Even Break” Car Chase – Part 1

Universal’s 1941 production Never Give A Sucker An Even Break features W.C. Fields in his final starring role. Directed by Edward Cline (Buster Keaton’s early co-writer/director) the movie ends with a frantic Keystone Kops-style car chase around the produce/warehouse district … Continue reading

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Saving the Best for (Safety) Last!

There is no better way to experience Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! than in a giant 1920’s movie palace packed with audience members gasping and shrieking at every turn. The Los Angeles Conservancy screens this classic thrill comedy on Saturday, June … Continue reading

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Chaplin on South Central – Making It Work

This image of Charlie Chaplin struggling with a cart load of tools and supplies in a Dickensian warehouse district is one of the most visually arresting of his entire career. Surrounded by horse-drawn wagons and early automobiles, the Little Tramp … Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Court Hill, Los Angeles Historic Core | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Safety Last! Moment (Before Harold Lloyd Did)

Early in Roscoe Arbuckle’s charming feature comedy The Life of the Party (1920), his character, instantly smitten by a female visitor to his high-rise law offices, stumbles backward through an open window, and hangs precipitously several stories in the air. … Continue reading

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Houdini – The Grim Game’s historic LA landmarks

After shooting a 15-part serial The Master Mystery, world famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini made his feature film debut in 1919 with The Grim Game, screening at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s special A Day of Silents … Continue reading

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Charlie Chaplin City Lights Tour – Author Presentation

As part of the Los Angeles Conservancy Last Remaining Seats film series, on June 13, 2015 I will be introducing Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece City Lights at the spectacular Los Angeles Theater where the film premiered January 30, 1931.  Although the … Continue reading

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The Three On A Match – ‘G’ Men – Ann Dvorak connection

This post comes with a shout-out to Christina Rice, Senior Librarian overseeing the invaluable Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection, and author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel, the wonderful biography about the spirited actress who played many standout roles … Continue reading

Posted in Los Angeles Historic Core, Pre-Code | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Charlie Chaplin Filmed The Bank

Charlie Chaplin’s Essanay comedy The Bank (1915) marks his final cinematic footsteps in downtown Los Angeles.  While Broadway, and other nearby Historic Core streets appear in several of his early Keystone films, including Making A Living, His Favorite Pastime, The … Continue reading

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Chaplin – Caught In the Rain 100 Years Ago by the 2nd St Tunnel

Charlie Chaplin’s lucky 13th Keystone Studio movie Caught in the Rain was released May 4, 1914, one hundred years ago today. Although Chaplin credits this film in his autobiography as his first directorial effort, Chaplin biographer David Robinson suggests otherwise, … Continue reading

Posted in Bunker Hill, Charlie Chaplin, Keystone Studio, Los Angeles Historic Core, Los Angeles Tunnels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

LA’s Early Hills, Tunnels Preserved in Noir – Silent Comedies

Once marked with hills and tunnels, the complicated landscape of early Los Angeles has changed so dramatically that it’s difficult to visualize how all of the pieces once fit together.  Massive landmarks such as Court Hill and the Broadway Tunnel … Continue reading

Posted in Court Hill, Film Noir, Lloyd Thrill Pictures, Los Angeles Historic Core, Los Angeles Tunnels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

More Discoveries From Keaton’s Cops

Buster Keaton’s best-known short film Cops (1922) has always been one of my favorite movies.  I must have been twelve when I first bought an 8mm print of it, and have since watched it dozens of times.  Now that it … Continue reading

Posted in Bunker Hill, Cops, Los Angeles Historic Core | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

How Harold Lloyd filmed the Safety Last! finale (at three places)

Safe at last, Harold stumbles over a parapet wall into the arms of his fiance Mildred Davis, capping his hair-raising climb up the 13 story “Bolton Building” in Safety Last! Seeking the perfect angle for each shot, Lloyd staged this … Continue reading

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Douglas Fairbanks, Edge of Doom, and Film Noir

During Douglas Fairbanks’ 1916 short comedy The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (part of the Fairbanks Modern Musketeer DVD set from Flicker Alley), a police van races from HQ down a quaint, post Victorian era Los Angeles street.  Thirty-four years … Continue reading

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Silent Cameos of the lost Southern Pacific Depot

Before the beautiful downtown Los Angeles Union Train Station opened in 1939, built on the site of the original Chinatown, the various railroads serving L.A. each operated from their own stations.  Union Station helped to reduce downtown noise and congestion … Continue reading

Posted in Douglas Fairbanks, Girl Shy, Hal Roach Studios, Harold Lloyd, Los Angeles Historic Core, Stan Laurel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Harold Lloyd – Film Noir – Criss Cross and the Hill Street Tunnel

Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and many other silent comedians filmed stunt comedy sequences by building sets on Court Hill overlooking the south end of the former Hill Street Tunnel.  As shown at left, filming a set against the street far … Continue reading

Posted in Bunker Hill, Film Noir, Harold Lloyd, Los Angeles Historic Core, Los Angeles Tunnels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Chaplin, Arbuckle and The Rounders

I’ve always enjoyed the comic interplay between Charlie Chaplin and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle during their classic Keystone short The Rounders (1914).  Charlie and Roscoe play a couple of good time inebriates, or “rounders,” who empty their wives’ pocketbooks in order … Continue reading

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How Harold Lloyd Filmed Safety Last!

The image of Harold Lloyd hanging desperately from the hands of a skyscraper clock during Safety Last! (1923) is one of the great icons of film history.  Using maps, aerial views, and vintage photographs, my book Silent Visions shows how … Continue reading

Posted in Harold Lloyd, Lloyd Thrill Pictures, Los Angeles Historic Core, Safety Last! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments