Johnny Depp and Buster Keaton at the Cops/Ed Wood alley

Cops and Ed Wood

Cops (1922) looking north and Ed Wood (1994) looking south – the Ed Wood image is reversed for comparison

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Cosmo Street 1997

To go with the Hollywood’s Silent Echoes presentation I gave last month at the Cinecon 49 Classic Film Festival at the Egyptian Theater, I prepared a tour of nearly 50 silent-era Hollywood landmarks and film locations you can access HERE.  During the lunch break I lead a group of 40 or so hearty souls a few blocks east from the theater to the 1700 block of Cahuenga, where we braved the extreme heat to explore many places where Chaplin, Keaton, Fairbanks, and Lloyd filmed scenes from their classic movies. 

The Kid

The Kid

The tour ended at the north end of East Cahuenga Alley (the locals call it “EaCa Alley”), running parallel between Cahuenga and Cosmo, where Charlie Chaplin filmed early scenes from The Kid (1921), Buster Keaton filmed Cops (1922), and Harold Lloyd filmed Safety Last! (1923).  Three kings of silent comedy, and three iconic masterpieces inducted into the National Film Registry, all filmed at the same spot in Hollywood, a 6-in-1 location described in my post HERE.  If any one site in Hollywood deserves a star of recognition, this would be it.

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Johnny Depp channels Buster in Benny and Joon

During the tour, someone correctly mentioned that the same alley had appeared in the 1994 Tim Burton/Johnny Depp eponymous biopic Ed Wood.  Depp had won accolades the prior year for playing a free-spirited character, inspired by Keaton and Chaplin, in the 1993 comedy/drama Benny and Joon.  As shown above, Keaton and Depp both filmed exterior scenes at the same Cosmo Street location in Hollywood seventy years apart.  (To aid with the comparison I reversed the Depp scene, which was filmed looking south, to match the Keaton scene filmed looking north.)

Matching corner post

Looking west or northwest at a matching corner post in Keaton’s Neighbors (1920) and in Ed Wood.

DSC09186 cDuring another scene in Ed Wood frustrated actress Vampira (played by Lisa Marie) exits a bus at the north end of EaCa Alley looking for Mr. Wood’s studio.  Above, the extant iron post and steel beam supporting the back corner of 1644 N. Cahuenga appears both in Buster’s earlier short Neighbors and in Vampira’s close-up.  The corner (left) is now part of the Spice Hollywood Bistro, that features patio dining where the great comedians once filmed.  Below, Chaplin runs north up EaCa Alley towards the same Spice corner – his position is nearly identical to Vampira’s placement in the alley below.

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Matching views looking north up EaCa Alley from The Kid and Ed Wood.  Chaplin and Vampira are in essentially the same spot.

Long ignored, EaCa Alley is now a bustling center of restaurants, clubs, and weekend markets selling spices and fresh produce.  

Looking south from the north end of EaCa Alley

Looking south from the north end of EaCa Alley – the Spice corner post (oval) is blocked in the Chaplin view

Below, the south entrance to EaCa Alley.

The EaCa Alley south entrance

The EaCa Alley south entrance

The farmer's market at Cosmo Street today

The farmer’s market at Cosmo Street today

Ed Wood contains many Hollywood scenes filmed on location, including shots of the Musso and Frank Grill (6667 Hollywood Blvd.) and Boardners (1652 N. Cherokee Ave.)

You can read how Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd each filmed a masterpiece at the north end of EaCa Alley at this post HERE.

Ed Wood Touchstone Pictures.  Cops and Neighbors licensed by Douris UK, Ltd. All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, copyright © Roy Export Company Establishment. CHARLES CHAPLIN, CHAPLIN, and the LITTLE TRAMP, photographs from and the names of Mr. Chaplin’s films are trademarks and/or service marks of Bubbles Incorporated SA and/or Roy Export Company Establishment. Used with permission.


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3 Responses to Johnny Depp and Buster Keaton at the Cops/Ed Wood alley

  1. geogan says:

    Really enjoyed the presentation and regret not being able to stick around for the tour! Next time! I have a question, however. Before heading back to the office that day, I took a walk over to the EaCa Alley and snapped a few of my own pics. I saw a gentleman park his car and head into the café, no doubt an employee or the owner and it made me wonder, do the owners have any idea of the significance of the location of their café? I feel like buying lunch there and standing up in the middle of my meal and shouting to the patrons, “Do you people have any idea of the film history that has taken place right on the ground upon which you now sit!!??” I won’t, but I’d like too!

    • Thanks David – I’m going to email this post to the Spice restaurant and see if it generates a response. I imagine most people would have no idea about the history. The building is well over 100 years old, which is an eternity by SoCal preservation standards. John

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