Chaplin Tours

City Lights Tour

Albert Einstein and Chaplin at the premiere

Albert Einstein and Chaplin at the premiere

As part of the Los Angeles Conservancy Last Remaining Seats film series, I helped introduce Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece City Lights at the spectacular Los Angeles Theater where the film premiered January 30, 1931.  The PDF tour (click link below) starts at the Los Angeles Theater at 615 S. Broadway, and covers many locations within steps of the theater before heading west to Beverly Hills along Wilshire Boulevard.  Unlike the gritty locations appearing during The Kid (1921), Chaplin sought out modern and urbane settings for City Lights.  Yet another example of how the varied streets of Los Angeles were used to set the right character and tone for the movies.

Charlie Chaplin City Lights Film Location Tour – John Bengtson

Overview Tour of Cahuenga, Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley, at Hollywood Blvd.

The great silent stars filmed far more on this one block than at any other spot in town. This brief overview tour includes Normand, Pickford, Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and the Hollywood Heritage celebration of the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley.

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley Celebration and Cahuenga Tour.

Charlie Chaplin Hollywood Tour

Tour silent-era Hollywood with this PDF guide listing over 50 locations around town. The tour takes you to several spots right in Hollywood, as well as the sites for the Lloyd, Chaplin, and Keaton Studios.

Hollywood’s Silent Echoes Tour

The tour is annotated with corresponding page numbers (SV) from my Harold Lloyd film location book Silent Visions, (ST) page numbers from my Chaplin film location book Silent Traces, and (SE) page numbers from my Buster Keaton film location book Silent Echoes.  Locations that are not annotated represent the many new discoveries not appearing in the books.

Chaplin Locations Tour on New Keystone DVDs

I highly recommend the Chaplin at Keystone DVD collection presented by Flicker Alley.  Watching these beautiful restorations of Chaplin’s earliest films made during 1914 at the Keystone Studio is a revelation.  For years only nearly unwatchable copies of these films were available.  Now you can now clearly see Charlie’s face, nuances, and gestures, and appreciate why he stood out, and made such an immediate hit with audiences worldwide.

As part of the collection, I was honored to prepare a short bonus feature program outlining some of the film locations appearing in Chaplin’s Keystone films.

Chaplin Tour of the Bay Area

Below, Charlie’s 1915 Essanay comedies filmed in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Niles.

Chaplin Tour of The Kid

Attached below is a PowerPoint presentation showing the historic settings in Chinatown and the Plaza de Los Angeles where Chaplin filmed his early masterpiece The Kid (1921).  The file is about 60MB, and you will need a PowerPoint viewer to watch the show.  Most of the slides are animated, so wait a moment each time before clicking the “next” button.  You can download a PowerPoint viewer at this site.

THE KID – Silent Traces Historic Tour

The Pilgrim and Modern Times at the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society’s 2011 ChaplinFest, from within the very train station where Chaplin filmed The Pilgrim.  Here is the site of the Modern Times finale on Google Maps.

13 Responses to Chaplin Tours

  1. D.A.R.Y.L. says:

    This was awesome, thanks for posting this!


  2. V.E.G. says:

    Charles Chaplin would have said to his 10 children that they once had a brother named Norman and he died 3 days after.


  3. Lady Eli Charlot says:

    This is so wonderful! Thank you!!! In the special features, from “Limelight” in the Chaplin Collection, there are wonderful home movies. They are in color (presumably filmed by Oona) of Charlie visiting Lambeth scenes of his youth. I noticed he paid attention to a “Frank Tyler Mens Furnishings” store. I have often wondered about his attention in both “City Lights” and “Modern Times” to the mens furniture store….He mentioned in his autobiography, his great satisfaction furnishing he and Syds first nice flat at Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Lane…and I thought maybe, that was why all the attention to his furniture stores….any thoughts??? I appreciate your lecture, more than you know!


  4. Thank you for your comments. Chaplin had a short city street set on his small studio backlot. On the east side were two prominent shops, a MEN’S FURNISHINGS shop towards the north end, and a shop on the south end that portrayed the blind girl’s flower shop at the end of City Lights. I always assumed “furnishings” referred to men’s clothing and accessories. You can see the City Lights flower shop set during Modern Times – when Charlie orders the large cafeteria meal that he can not pay for, there is a view from inside the cafeteria towards the flower shop across the street. I have some aerial photos of his studio in my book that makes this all clear.


  5. Awesome. I never tire of watching this. I hope to see those places someday.


  6. Jean Carlos Nunes says:

    Descobri há pouco o seu trabalho e, desde então, venho me deliciando. É maravilhoso ver como se encontram atualmente os lugares onde meu ídolo, Charles Chaplin, realizou alguns de seus grandes filmes. Que tenhas muita saúde pra continuar realizando tuas pesquisas!!!!!!


  7. Colin Stark says:

    Im off to LA next week for a walking trip around some of the old silent movie haunts. I’ve done a fair few already but I need some L&H locations to add to the list! Thanks for The Kid slides. Really great!


  8. Janine says:

    Just discovered this site. I’ve been a Chaplin fan for years. I’ve oftened looked at the background of so many of his films and have always wondered where they were filmed. Thank you for this site!


    • Thank you Janine – I appreciate it. Aside from the many Chaplin stories and tours posted here, if you are interested there is even far more material in my Chaplin book. You can peruse the book using the “Look Inside” function on Amazon.


  9. Gene Maple says:

    Thank you for doing all this great leg work to uncover these now magical locations. Do you give personal tours?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. While I don’t live in LA, I have had the honor of leading tours during the Cinecon Labor Day Film Festival, for Esotouric, and for the Los Angeles Conservancy. Hopefully more opportunities will come once things fully return to normal.


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