Keaton’s Highland Goat Garage

Click to enlarge.  Keaton filmed a scene from The Goat at the Hollywood A.1. Garage (box) up from the corner of the former Hollywood Hotel, now the site of the Hollywood and Highland retail and entertainment center.    Left (c) 2012 Microsoft Corporation, Pictometry Bird’s Eye (c) 2010 Pictometry International Corp.  Center image Security Pacific National Bank Photograph Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.

During the frantic chase in Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film The Goat, Buster attempts to flee the police by leaping onto the rear spare tire of a departing car, only to find himself sitting instead on a freestanding auto garage ad for tire vulcanizing.

Two versions of the same gag, from alternate vantage points looking up or down Highland Avenue in Hollywood.  Keaton placed himself either further up or down the street so that the garage would appear in each shot.  The red box marks the palm trees in front of the former Hollywood Hotel that stood on the NW corner of Hollywood and Highland.  The ovals mark the same Michelin tire sign.

Remarkably, this joke is one of the few from Keaton’s entire silent career for which an outtake exists, included as a bonus feature on the new Kino Blu-ray release Buster Keaton: The Shorts Collection (1920-1923).  The alternate take (above right), clearly shows a 1741 address for the garage, an invaluable clue.

Film location sleuth Paul Ayers had long suspected this gag was filmed looking south on Highland Avenue towards Hollywood Boulevard.  Thanks to the Blu-ray high resolution we can confirm the spot positively.

Click to enlarge.  This bottom view looks east down Hollywood Boulevard from Highland.  The yellow box marks the Hollywood A.1. Garage at 1741 Highland.  The red lines match up images from the background of the movie frame with the buildings on the street.  The palms trees to the left of the street stand before the Hollywood Hotel.  California Historical Society, Title Insurance and Trust Photo Collection, Department of Special Collections, University of Southern California.

The two story First National Trust and Savings Bank branch office across from the Hollywood Hotel, on the NE corner of Hollywood and Highland, appears in the background of Keaton’s scene.  It was demolished in late 1927 to make way for the 190 foot tall First National Bank building completed in 1928, and recognized today as one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.  This comparable aerial view below matches the aerial view above, but for the new bank tower.

A comparable view, looking east down Hollywood Boulevard, of the Hollywood A.1. Garage (box), and the extant First National Bank Building tower now standing on the NE corner of Highland.  The First National Building was designed by Meyer and Holler, the same architects that designed Grauman’s Egyptian and Chinese Theaters.  Security Pacific National Bank Photograph Collection/Los Angeles Public Library.

Built in 1903, the Hollywood Hotel (below) was a Hollywood institution for decades, until falling in decline, and being demolished in 1956.  Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, and Marie Dressler filmed scenes from Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914) on the hotel’s front porch.

The former Hollywood Hotel on the NW corner of Hollywood and Highland – compare to matching view below.  California Historical Society, Title Insurance and Trust Photo Collection, Department of Special Collections, University of Southern California. 

A comparable view of the Hollywood Hotel site today, as the First National Bank tower looks on from the right. (C) 2012 Google.

Click to enlarge. Looking south from 1741 N. Highland. The two small buildings up from the corner of Hollywood Blvd. (red and yellow boxes), still stand, although heavily re-modeled. (C) 2012 Google.

The Goat licensed by Douris UK, Ltd.

1741 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA

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7 Responses to Keaton’s Highland Goat Garage

  1. Robby says:

    Amazing find! It’s fantastic to see all of these classics getting the high-def treatment. It’s incredible how much more detail is visible. I sometimes wonder how I was able to watch certain films when there were only really gritty versions available. Excellent work as always.

  2. Pingback: Keaton’s Highland Goat Garage | The Bioscope | Scoop.it

  3. Donna Heuman says:

    Some great new sleuthing. You must have a photographic memory…

  4. silentsgirl says:

    It is nothing short of amazing to me that I have stood at Hollywood and Highland every single time I’ve visited the area, and never realized how close I was to history. Thank you for giving me that.

  5. Pingback: Keaton – Cops – and the First Baptist Church of Hollywood | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

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