Harry Langdon – The Strong Man Part 3

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Click to enlarge – scenes from Harry Langdon’s The Strong Man filmed along Wilshire Boulevard.

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Click to enlarge – the SE corner of Wilshire Boulevard (at left) and Vermont Avenue (at right), in 1928 and partially demolished in 2002.  The remaining corner buildings were demolished in 2007.  A massive twin-tower condominium project is nearing completion on the site today.

Harry Langdon’s 1926 comedy feature The Strong Man contains many exterior scenes filmed in the Korea Town area of Los Angeles near Wilshire and MacArthur Park.  Harry plays a WWI veteran who returns to the States hoping to meet his faithful pen-pal, Mary Brown, whose letters encouraged him during the war.  True to Harry’s infant-like persona, Harry naively asks the doorman at a busy hotel (supposedly in Manhattan) if he knows Mary Brown.  Playing along, the doorman tells Harry “sure I know Mary – she passes by that nearby corner every day.”   Waiting at the corner, Harry soon meets an unscrupulous woman, played by Gertrude Astor, who pretends to be Mary in order to hide a wad of stolen cash in Harry’s coat before she is searched by a suspicious police detective.

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Click to enlarge – Harry meets the doorman by the former entryway to 3142 Wilshire Boulevard, just steps from the corner of Shatto Place.  The red box marks the showroom window of the Rolls Royce auto dealership that once operated at the corner storefront.  USC Digital Library

Harry shows the doorman a tiny photo of Mary

Harry shows the doorman Mary’s photo

The scenes with the doorman, “Mary,” and the detective, were all filmed along the commercial building that once stood on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, between Vermont Avenue to the west, and Shatto Place to the east.  Many of these shots are identified at the top of this post.  As depicted here, the doorman tells Harry to wait for Mary at the corner of Shatto Place, just a few steps to the left from where they are standing at 3142 Wilshire.

Harry waits for Mary at the SW corner of Carondelet and W 7th (see Part 2 of my post)

Harry waits for Mary at a different corner, the SW corner of Carondelet and W 7th (see Part 2 of my post)

Although the doorman and Harry were filmed just steps away from the corner of Shatto Place, Harry is filmed waiting for Mary at the corner of a similar but different building at Carondelet and W. 7th Street a few blocks away.  Perhaps director Frank Capra thought seeing a Rolls Royce window sign in the background of the Shatto Place corner would be too distracting, and so filmed at a more generic setting instead.  Thankfully the corner where Harry does wait for Mary still survives (directly above) and comprises my second post about The Strong Man.

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Harry and “Mary” stroll west along Wilshire from Shatto Place towards Vermont – 1926 and 2002.

I also discovered that Harold Lloyd filmed many scenes from For Heaven’s Sake (1926) nearby on Shatto Place, around the corner from Wilshire, the same setting where the opening credits for the Punky Brewster television show were filmed in 1984, as both described in this post HERE.

The former Shatto Place storefronts at the corner of Wilshire (now a vacant lot), where Harry filmed along the yellow line for The Strong Man.  The corner was originally a Rolls Royce dealership (see far above).  The red box stands to the right of the camera shop appearing in the opening credits to the Punky Brewster TV show (right).

The former Shatto Place storefronts at Wilshire, now site of a huge condominium project.  Harry filmed on Wilshire along the yellow line.  The corner was originally a Rolls Royce dealership (see far above).  The red box on Shatto stands north of the camera shop appearing in the opening credits to the Punky Brewster TV show (right).

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Looking north – Harry filmed walking west along Wilshire (yellow arrow) toward Vermont.  Harold Lloyd filmed For Heaven’s Sake traveling north up Shatto Place (red arrow).  Punky Brewster also filmed on Shatto.

The discoveries reported here are bittersweet, because the once-beautiful building on Wilshire was already half-demolished the first time I visited the site early in 2002, and fully demolished soon thereafter.  I took what photos I could at the time, not knowing how or whether I would ever be able to use them later on.  This comparison shot below is nearly meaningless, as there appear to be no remaining matching elements between the 1926 and 2002 images.

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This post only became possible after I discovered some wonderful vintage photos at the USC Digital Library that allowed me to visually match the various shots in the movie.  Once again we see how Los Angeles history is preserved in classic movies of the past.

1928

The SE corner of Wilshire and Vermont in 1928. USC Digital Library

1934

The same corner in 1934 – USC Digital Library

A similar 2013 view of the SE corner of Wilshire and Vermont.  LA.CURBED

A similar 2013 view of the SE corner of Wilshire and Vermont. LA.CURBED

You can read about how “Mary” attempts to lure Harry into her apartment, in order to retrieve her cash, in my original post about The Strong Man, HERE.

As shown on Google Street View below, the demolished lot on Wilshire and Vermont remained vacant well into 2011, but a twin-tower high-rise condominium on the site is rapidly nearing completion.

The Strong Man (C) 1926 First National Pictures, Inc., (C) renewed 1954 Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc.

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2 Responses to Harry Langdon – The Strong Man Part 3

  1. I love everything you’re doing here. Something I’d do.

  2. Vassilis says:

    Found out about this film while I was searching the Frank Capra films. Turns out I have seen this lovely movie on TV in the 80ies. Harry Langdon is such a characteristic figure! Thanks for these posts!

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