Tag 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 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

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Keaton’s Battling Butler – A Knockout Finish to the SF Silent Film Festival

The 2018 San Francisco Silent Film Festival closes Sunday, June 3 with a screening of Buster Keaton’s self-directed comedy Battling Butler (1926), hosted by Leonard Maltin, and honoring recently deceased festival Board member, beloved television writer and director Frank Buxton, … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Film Noir, The Turning Point, Three Stooges | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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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Buster Keaton’s Haunted House

My friend architectural writer Steve Vaught made this amazing discovery – the “haunted” mansion appearing in Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film The Haunted House was the former Bonebrake Mansion, once standing on the corner of Adams and Figueroa. Steve noticed … 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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How Mabel Normand filmed her Safety Last! Moment (Before Harold Lloyd Did)

Mabel Normand’s wildly popular 1918 feature Mickey climaxes with a thrilling roof-top rescue staged years before Harold Lloyd stunned audiences with his high-rise climb in Safety Last! (1923). Reportedly the highest grossing film of the year, Mickey was the only … 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

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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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Houdini – Keaton – The Grim Game – Cops

Buster Keaton writes in his autobiography that famed magician and escape artist Harry Houdini gave him his nickname after witnessing 6-month old Keaton tumble unhurt down a flight of stairs. While likely more myth than fact,* Harry and Bess Houdini … 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 Big Parade – Historic Views of the Home Front

Although most of The Big Parade (1925) is set in the war-torn villages and battlefields of France, the acclaimed World War I drama also provides historic views of early downtown Los Angeles and Orange County. Told from the soldier’s point … Continue reading

Posted in Los Angeles Tunnels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How James Cagney Filmed Lady Killer

Eight downtown Los Angeles landmarks appear behind James Cagney during the opening scenes of Lady Killer (1933), yet only three survive to tell their tale. In this delightful pre-Code comedy/drama, Cagney plays Dan Quigley, a wise-cracking New York movie theater … Continue reading

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Max Linder Shines Again in Seven Years Bad Luck

Dapper Max Linder, the pioneering French silent film comedian affectionately dubbed “The Professor” by Charlie Chaplin, will be taking the spotlight soon. Max’s 1921 feature comedy Seven Years Bad Luck will be screened at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, … 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

Buster Keaton and The Three Stooges – Round 6

In his 1926 self-directed feature comedy Battling Butler, Buster plays an effete millionaire who seeks to impress a girl by allowing her to mistakenly believe he is a champion boxer sharing the same name.  As might be guessed, the movie … Continue reading

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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