Author Archives: John Bengtson

Reflections on Keaton’s Cops at the SF Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival starts next week, with another wide and varied lineup of classic silent films accompanied with live musical performances. Comedy fans will be especially interested in the Saturday morning program, introduced by Leonard Maltin, where … Continue reading

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Columbo and the Silent Clowns – Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd

I’ve been enjoying watching Peter Falk as Columbo on Netflix, and am transfixed by the time travel elements of this now decades-old series. The population of Los Angeles has nearly doubled since the time of filming, and there’s something quaint, … Continue reading

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How Harold Lloyd Filmed Bumping Into Broadway

Harold Lloyd’s debut two-reel comedy featuring his ‘Glass Character,’ Bumping Into Broadway (1919), appears in a sparkling restoration as part of the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of Speedy (1928). Lloyd filmed many scenes in downtown Los Angeles, including Weller … Continue reading

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Buster in Cops Cruising Santa Monica Boulevard

Buster Keaton’s famous short film Cops (1922) remains his only self-produced movie that was filmed completely out of doors, with no interior scenes. Early in the film Buster helps Big Joe Roberts into a taxi in front of the Pantages … Continue reading

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Chaplin – Keaton Studio Connections – The Fireman and Convict 13

Because Charlie Chaplin filmed his Mutual comedy shorts (1916-17) at the same small studio where Buster Keaton later filmed his independent shorts and features (1920-28), many common locations and settings appear in their films (see above).  I explain this in … Continue reading

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How Mabel Normand filmed her Safety Last! Moment (Before Harold Lloyd Did)

Mabel Normand’s wildly popular 1918 feature Mickey climaxes with a thrilling roof-top rescue staged years before Harold Lloyd stunned audiences with his high-rise climb in Safety Last! (1923). Reportedly the highest grossing film of the year, Mickey was the only … Continue reading

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Mostly Lost – Keaton Found (Stan Laurel too) at Hollywood and Western

This fun discovery from Buster Keaton’s The Goat (1921) was made possible thanks to Mostly Lost, the Library of Congress crowd-sourcing workshop to screen and identify orphan silent and early sound films, held at the Packard Campus in Culpeper Virginia. … Continue reading

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