Buster’s Trains – One Week to Speak Easily

In honor of Buster Keaton’s birthday today, October 4, 1895, Turner Classic Movies is hosting a Buster Keaton celebration by playing a large selection of his films throughout October.  Watching Keaton’s penultimate MGM feature Speak Easily (1932) for the first time, I was surprised to see that the movie employs the same train stations where Keaton filmed some of his greatest silent film triumphs.

Click to enlarge. In One Week (1920), Buster travels up N. Eucalyptus Ave. in Inglewood near the town train station and the C. Ganahl Lumber Co.

In Speak Easily Buster plays a timid classical Greek literature professor who befriends a struggling stage troupe.  Buster first meets them beside the Inglewood train station, best known as the setting for the climax of Keaton’s debut silent short One Week (1920), where Buster’s house is demolished by an oncoming train.

Click to enlarge. The Inglewood train station as it appears in One Week, left, and in Speak Easily, right.

A lumber yard shed appears in One Week, left, in Speak Easily, center, as Buster is being dragged aboard a moving train, and in this vintage aerial view, right.

As Buster is dragged aboard a departing Inglewood train in Speak Easily (above), you can see a distinctive shed that stood nearby during the filming of One Week.

Harold Lloyd's Now or Never (1921) left, the Chatsworth station center, and Speak Easily, right.

Later in Speak Easily, Buster and the troupe arrive at the Chatsworth station, and momentarily go their separate ways.  As shown below, the Chatsworth train station appears briefly in Sherlock Jr. (1924), and due north of the station is the water tank in Sherlock Jr. where Buster unknowingly broke his neck filming a stunt lowering himself to the ground from the tank water spout.

Click to enlarge. In Sherlock Jr, left, Buster shadows his rival behind the Chatsworth train staion. The back of the station appears in Speak Easily, as Buster and Jimmy Durante rush to catch a moving bus. The oval marks the same spot of ground.

The same water tank appears in Harold Lloyd's Now or Newer, left, in Sherlock Jr. , center, and in Speak Easily.

Buster made only one more feature for MGM after Speak Easily before he was fired.  Given Buster’s struggles at MGM, and his despair over losing creative control of his films, you have to wonder what Buster might have been thinking when he re-visited these stations where he had created screen magic a decade earlier.  Both the Inglewood and Chatsworth stations are lost to history, but both appear frequently in early film.

Speak Easily is available for instant viewing on the Internet Archive.  The train station scenes begin at 6:30 and17:00 into the film.

I explain One Week in full detail in my book Silent Echoes.  This map below shows where Buster’s house crossed the still-active rail line at the end of the film.  The former Chatsworth station was located on the west side of the tracks, across from the current Chatsworth Amtrak station.

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13 Responses to Buster’s Trains – One Week to Speak Easily

  1. John McElwee says:

    What an amazing and wonderful site … nothing like it anywhere … a perfect companion to your remarkable books. I’ll be watching “Speak Easily” from the DVR today and enjoying it twice as much, thanks to this post.

  2. John – thank you so much. You have one of the most fascinating movie blogs I’ve ever seen (see below), so this coming from you is a real compliment.

    http://greenbriarpictureshows.blogspot.com/

    Cheers, John

  3. Robby says:

    Amazing work! Also, always nice to see the overlap in the Lloyd/Keaton/Chaplin locations. You do such a good job of showing how their paths crossed on film.

  4. Pingback: Happy Buster Keaton Month (otherwise known as October) « Pretty Clever Films

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  6. Jerry Miles says:

    Thanks. I really enjoyed seeing these old movie locations. I grew up across the street from the area in the very early 1950’s and played in those exact places. I have several 1924 aeial shots that confirm many of buildings shown on the map. Some were still there in 1952 and after.

  7. Pingback: Silent Cameos of the lost Southern Pacific Depot | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  8. Pingback: Keaton – Wings – Noir – and the SP Depot | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

  9. Sherly Grooms says:

    The network of railways in Plymouth, Devon, England, was developed by companies affiliated to two competing railways, the Great Western Railway and the London and South Western Railway. At their height two main lines and three branch lines served 28 stations in the Plymouth area, but today just six stations remain in use. The first uses of railway in the area were wooden rails used during the construction of docks facilities. *

    Make sure you visit our very own website too
    <,http://www.caramoantourpackage.com/

  10. aryedirect says:

    It is wonderful when movies enter both our dreams and the reality upon which we walk. Thanks.

  11. Pingback: Speak Easily (1932) Review, with Buster Keaton | Pre-Code.Com

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