Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. Hollywood Vault (with Harold Lloyd too)

The arrow points east down Hollywood Boulevard from a small park at La Brea towards a gas station on Sycamore (box) and the extant Johnny Grant Building (oval).  The Garden Court Garage, now lost, stood to the left of the oval, across the street from the also lost Garden Court Apartments (1).   The Mary Moll home (2) became the site of the Roosevelt Hotel.   The lost Hotel Hollywood (3) stood at Hollywood and Highland.  Baist’s Real Estate Surveys of Los Angeles 1921 – Plate 040. HistoricMapWorks.com

Sherlock Jr. steps out his door as a trolley passes by.

In his 1924 comedy Sherlock Jr., Buster Keaton portrays a daydreaming movie theater projectionist who fancies himself a great detective.  During the movie’s lengthy dream sequence, Buster’s character, after falling asleep on the job, finds himself living wild adventures on the projected movie screen as Sherlock Jr., the world’s greatest detective.   Here, Sherlock opens a massive wall safe in his mansion to reveal that it is actually his front door, leading out onto a busy street.

Looking east down Hollywood Boulevard, circa 1924, the Garden Court Apartments (1), the palm trees in front of the Hotel Hollywood (3), the palm trees at the Mary Moll home, future site to the Roosevelt Hotel (2), the corner of the extant Johnny Grant Building (oval), with a nine-arch facade, and the gas station billboard on the corner of Sycamore (box).  Delmar Watson Photography Archive – The Watson Family Photography Archive.

Keaton filmed this scene from a special set built on a small triangular park that is now called the Hollywood La Brea Gateway.  The view looks east down Hollywood Boulevard from the park.  The white billboard for the H. P. Rehbein Richfield gas station (red box above) on the corner of Sycamore appears above Buster’s hat (left).  Across the street stood the Garden Court Apartments (1), a former Hollywood landmark where stars such as John Gilbert, Rudolph Valentino, Lillian Gish, and in later years Marilyn Monroe once lived.  The property fell on hard times, and was shut down in 1980, and demolished in 1984.

Click to enlarge. The gas station on the corner of Sycamore (box), the Garden Court Apartments (1), the extant Johnny Grant Building (oval), the Mary Moll home, future site of the Roosevelt Hotel (2), and the Hotel Hollywood (3).  The Garden Court Garage, mentioned below, now lost, stands to the left of the oval.  Delmar Watson Photography Archive – The Watson Family Photography Archive.

Girl Shy, looking east towards the Mary Moll home palm trees (2) and the extant Johnny Grant Building (oval).

Buster was not the only comedian to film on the west end of Hollywood Boulevard.  These frames to the left and below come from Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy (1924), Why Worry? (1923), and I Do (1921).   The H.P. Rehbein Richfield gas station on the corner of Sycamore was later replaced by the multi-story Rehbein office building in 1925.  Buster ran west past the Rehbein office building, while wearing a red devil suit, during the cattle stampede in his later comedy Go West (1925).

The same H. P. Rehbein Richfield gas station billboard appears in Girl Shy (left) and in Why Worry ? (right).

Two separate buildings, the extant Johnny Grant Building (left), with its extant corner (oval, appearing in all of the shots above), and the Garden Court Garage (right), now lost, shared a common nine-arch facade that stood along the south side of Hollywood Boulevard across the street from the Garden Court Apartments (1).  The right image is from Harold Lloyd’s short I Do (1921).  If you expand the other images above showing the corner of the Johnny Grant Building (oval), you can see nine arches in all, not merely five.

The arrow points east down Hollywood Boulevard, from the park on La Brea, where Buster built his vault set, towards the Rehbein Building (box, where the gas station stood on Sycamore), and the extant Johnny Grant Building (oval), adjacent to the Roosevelt Hotel (2), that now stands on the site of the former Mary Moll home.  The Garden Court Apartments (1) and Hotel Hollywood (3) appear unchanged.  Department of Special Collections, University of Southern California.

My special thanks to Antoinette Watson at the Watson Family Photographic Archive for the two vintage photos posted above.

Below, a modern Google Street View looking east towards the Hollywood La Brea Gateway, with Hollywood Boulevard stretching away from the camera in the background.  The small foreground park, with the palm trees, is where Keaton built his vault set for Sherlock Jr.  The white HIS shuttle bus is traveling the same path as the trolley during the movie.

Sherlock Jr. licensed by Douris UK, Ltd.  HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.

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6 Responses to Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. Hollywood Vault (with Harold Lloyd too)

  1. Pingback: Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. Hollywood Vault (with Harold Lloyd too) | The Bioscope | Scoop.it

  2. Bill Counter says:

    Hi, John — I enjoy your posts! Any idea what theatre we’re looking at here in this shot from “Sherlock Jr”? http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=570726466271249&set=a.298208253523073.83587.201380546539178&type=1&theater

    • Hi Bill – that was the Paramount movie theater at 5528 Santa Monica Boulevard, now a strip mall. This view looks west down SM Blvd. towards the corner of Western. The NW corner building, visible at far right, at the time a Security Bank, is still standing. I describe many locations from Sherlock Jr. in my book Silent Echoes, and also on the Sherlock Jr. Blu-ray

  3. There are photos of the houses and apts on the google reader for the book “Early Hollywood” http://books.google.com/books?id=TBljuKCnX3kC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Fascinating- and your sleuthing to find the other half of the building is *wonderful*.

  4. Pingback: Harold Lloyd’s Why Worry? TCM Hollywood Connection | Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

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