Buster Keaton, Seven Chances, and Warren Beatty?

mv5bmty2ntm5njiyov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmzuwnzc3nje-_v1_sy1000_cr006731000_al_Warren Beatty’s audacious and scarily prescient political satire Bulworth (1998) depicts Beatty as a California Senator seeking reelection who’s become so disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of politics that he hires a hit man to finish him off. Suddenly liberated to speak his mind, Bulworth’s unfiltered remarks spark a media storm and groundswell of popular support (sound familiar?)

Early on Bulworth chastises a black congregation to wake up, confessing that neither party serves their community because politicians only respond to well-funded lobbyists and huge donations. Bulworth’s terrified campaign manager ends the debacle by pulling the fire alarm and hustling Bulworth out of the church.

The Greater Page Temple - 2610 La Salle Avenue

Senator Bulworth arrives at the Greater Page Temple – 2610 S. La Salle Avenue

church-5

The church presented in the film is the same church Buster Keaton used seven decades earlier for his pre-marital comedy Seven Chances (1925). In that film Keaton must marry by 7:00 p.m. in order to inherit a fortune, and after bungling a proposal to his long-time girlfriend, resorts to placing a front page notice in the newspaper, prompting hundreds of would-be brides to appear at the church. Built in 1906, the former West Adams Methodist Church, now the Greater Page Temple, stands proudly as ever at 2610 La Salle Avenue.

USC Digital Library - CHS-41294

USC Digital Library – CHS-41294

20161209_193209While Bulworth staged a lengthy sequence inside the beautiful church, Buster filmed his church interiors on a roofless set draped overhead with muslin cloth to diffuse the bright sunlight.

Buster in a set - it had no roof.

Buster in a specially built church interior set – it had no roof.

The late Mrs. Eleanor Keaton on the steps of the Seven Chances church. She joked that whereas hundreds of women before her had failed, she was the one woman to capture Buster.

The late Mrs. Eleanor Keaton on the steps of the Seven Chances church. She joked that whereas hundreds before her had failed, she was the one woman to actually marry Buster.

I write extensively about the locations appearing in Seven Chances in my book Silent Echoes, and prepared a visual essay about it as a bonus feature to the Kino-Lorber Blu-ray release of the film. This post shows other locations, and this post shows how Buster filmed a scene close to his studio.

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