Author Archives: John Bengtson

Chaplin’s San Jose Day Making A Night Out

Do you know the way to San Jose? It turns out Charlie Chaplin did. Thanks to the Blu-ray clarity of Charlie’s restored Essanay comedies, and the tenacious research by Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum historian David Kiehn, we now know … Continue reading

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Buster Keaton’s Haunted House

My friend architectural writer Steve Vaught made this amazing discovery – the “haunted” mansion appearing in Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film The Haunted House was the former Bonebrake Mansion, once standing on the corner of Adams and Figueroa. Steve noticed … Continue reading

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Chaplin – Pavlova – Lois Weber – at the Castle Sans Souci

One highlight of the recently concluded San Francisco Silent Film Festival was the Library of Congress restored presentation of pioneering director Lois Weber’s powerful historic epic The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916), starring world-acclaimed ballet dancer Anna Pavlova in her … Continue reading

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Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman leads the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The San Francisco Silent Film Festival kicks off another exciting season with a June 1 screening of Harold Lloyd’s 1925 campus comedy The Freshman at the Castro Theater, accompanied by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. The Freshman was Lloyd’s greatest … Continue reading

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Hollywood’s Silent Echoes – 2017 FIAF/FLC Tour

[Tour download] Late in 1921 a mob of angry police chased Buster Keaton down a narrow Hollywood alley towards Cahuenga Boulevard. Entering the street Buster saw to his right a corner where “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford filmed a scene in … Continue reading

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Keaton’s The Goat – the geography of a gag

Particular yet pragmatic, Buster Keaton would travel hundreds of miles to find just the right setting for a joke, while also filming dozens of mundane locations within steps of his small studio in Hollywood. This post breaks down the geography … Continue reading

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Buster with a Bullitt – Keaton and Steve McQueen’s SF Stunts

Recent posts show Buster Keaton crossed paths with Orson Welles in Venice, California (The High Sign and Touch of Evil), and with Alfred Hitchcock in San Francisco (Day Dreams and Vertigo). This time Keaton and ‘King of Cool’ actor Steve … Continue reading

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