Author Archives: John Bengtson

Chaplin on South Central – Making It Work

This image of Charlie Chaplin struggling with a cart load of tools and supplies in a Dickensian warehouse district is one of the most visually arresting of his entire career. Surrounded by horse-drawn wagons and early automobiles, the Little Tramp … Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, Court Hill, Los Angeles Historic Core | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How Charlie Chaplin filmed The Kid

Filmed mostly in 1920, The Kid utilizes more historic settings and extant locations than any other Chaplin film. 95 years later you can still visit Edna Purviance’s Dickensian maternity ward, the mansion (later owned by Muhammad Ali) where she abandons … Continue reading

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, The Kid | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

How Roscoe Arbuckle Filmed His Safety Last! Moment (Before Harold Lloyd Did)

Early in Roscoe Arbuckle’s charming feature comedy The Life of the Party (1920), his character, instantly smitten by a female visitor to his high-rise law offices, stumbles backward through an open window, and hangs precipitously several stories in the air. … Continue reading

Posted in Harold Lloyd, Los Angeles Historic Core, Roscoe Arbuckle, Safety Last! | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houdini – The Grim Game – More Hollywood Connections

The climax to Harry Houdini’s debut feature film The Grim Game (1919) involved the real-life mid-air collision of two airplanes captured on film (discussed in my prior post HERE).  The extraordinary footage was worked into the story by filming the … Continue reading

Posted in Cops, Harry Houdini, The Grim Game | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Houdini – The Grim Game’s historic LA landmarks

After shooting a 15-part serial The Master Mystery, world famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini made his feature film debut in 1919 with The Grim Game, screening at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival’s special A Day of Silents … Continue reading

Posted in Harry Houdini, Los Angeles Historic Core, The Grim Game | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Houdini – Keaton – The Grim Game – Cops

Buster Keaton writes in his autobiography that famed magician and escape artist Harry Houdini gave him his nickname after witnessing 6-month old Keaton tumble unhurt down a flight of stairs. While likely more myth than fact,* Harry and Bess Houdini … Continue reading

Posted in Buster Keaton, Cops, Harry Houdini, The Grim Game | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Keaton – Langdon – Lloyd on Larchmont – Ebell Club Author Talk

Developed along a street car line (always ripe for slapstick antics), Larchmont Boulevard has been a popular movie location for nearly 100 years.  Harold Lloyd filmed there as early as 1917.  During my luncheon talk at the Ebell Club on … Continue reading

Posted in Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment