Tag Archives: Silent Movies

Chaplin – Pavlova – Lois Weber – at the Castle Sans Souci

One highlight of the recently concluded San Francisco Silent Film Festival was the Library of Congress restored presentation of pioneering director Lois Weber’s powerful historic epic The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916), starring world-acclaimed ballet dancer Anna Pavlova in her … Continue reading

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Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman leads the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicks off another exciting season with a June 1 screening of Harold Lloyd’s 1925 campus comedy The Freshman at the Castro Theater, accompanied by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. The Freshman was Lloyd’s greatest … Continue reading

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Hollywood’s Silent Echoes – 2017 FIAF/FLC Tour

[Tour download] Late in 1921 a mob of angry police chased Buster Keaton down a narrow Hollywood alley towards Cahuenga Boulevard. Entering the street Buster saw to his right a corner where “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford filmed a scene in … Continue reading

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Keaton’s The Goat – the geography of a gag

Particular yet pragmatic, Buster Keaton would travel hundreds of miles to find just the right setting for a joke, while also filming dozens of mundane locations within steps of his small studio in Hollywood. This post breaks down the geography … Continue reading

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Keaton and Orson Welles – A High Sign Touch of Evil

Prior posts discuss Orson Welles and Chaplin (Citizen Kane – Modern Times), and Keaton and Alfred Hitchcock (Day Dreams and Vertigo), so how about Keaton and Orson Welles? Their paths crossed too, filming in Venice, California. As I explain in … Continue reading

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Keaton and Hitchcock’s Vertigo Day Dreams

Filmed on location in San Francisco, Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo (1958) provides tantalizing mid-century glimpses of the City in sparkling VistaVision color. Remarkably, when Scottie (James Stewart) traces Madeleine (Kim Novak) by car back to his own apartment, they cross … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton, Seven Chances, and Warren Beatty?

Warren Beatty’s audacious and scarily prescient political satire Bulworth (1998) depicts Beatty as a California Senator seeking reelection who’s become so disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of politics that he hires a hit man to finish him off. Suddenly liberated to … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton, The General, and Animal House?

As shown in this previous post describing how Buster Keaton filmed The General in Cottage Grove, Oregon, Buster and crew stayed at the Bartell Hotel during the production, staged the summer of 1926. The hotel stands just a block or … Continue reading

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How Chaplin Filmed The Champion – on Location in Niles

The upcoming San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s Day of Silents winter program this December 3 at the Castro Theater offers something for everyone, from Ernst Lubitsch’s 1926 Jazz Age gem So This is Paris, to the Oscar’s first ever Best … Continue reading

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The Chaplin – Keaton – Lloyd Hollywood Alley

Three of the greatest comedies of all time, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Buster Keaton’s Cops (1922), and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! (1923), were filmed in the heart of Hollywood at the unnamed alley running just south of Hollywood Boulevard … Continue reading

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Chaplin’s The Tramp – ‘New’ Views of One of Cinema’s Most Iconic Scenes

Forever known as “the Little Tramp,” Charlie Chaplin filmed his eponymous short film The Tramp for the Essanay company over 100 years ago in Niles, California. When Chaplin arrived at the Bay Area studio early in 1915, the small rural … 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 Harold Lloyd Filmed Bumping Into Broadway

Harold Lloyd’s debut two-reel comedy featuring his ‘Glass Character,’ Bumping Into Broadway (1919), appears in a sparkling restoration as part of the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of Speedy (1928). Lloyd filmed many scenes in downtown Los Angeles, including Weller … Continue reading

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Buster in Cops Cruising Santa Monica Boulevard

Buster Keaton’s famous short film Cops (1922) remains his only self-produced movie that was filmed completely out of doors, with no interior scenes. Early in the film Buster helps Big Joe Roberts into a taxi in front of the Pantages … Continue reading

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Chaplin – Keaton Studio Connections – The Fireman and Convict 13

Because Charlie Chaplin filmed his Mutual comedy shorts (1916-17) at the same small studio where Buster Keaton later filmed his independent shorts and features (1920-28), many common locations and settings appear in their films (see above).  I explain this in … 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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Mostly Lost – Keaton Found (Stan Laurel too) at Hollywood and Western

This fun discovery from Buster Keaton’s The Goat (1921) was made possible thanks to Mostly Lost, the Library of Congress crowd-sourcing workshop to screen and identify orphan silent and early sound films, held at the Packard Campus in Culpeper Virginia. … Continue reading

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The Kid – Charlie Chaplin’s Onscreen Fans

[Update: I found where this scene with the girl was filmed – read HERE] While Chaplin fans packed theaters worldwide to watch his onscreen antics, during several scenes in The Kid you can see fans watching him onscreen as well.  … 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 Charlie Chaplin filmed The Kid

Filmed mostly in 1920, The Kid utilizes more historic settings and extant locations than any other Chaplin film. 95 years later you can still visit Edna Purviance’s Dickensian maternity ward, the mansion (later owned by Muhammad Ali) where she abandons … Continue reading

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