Showing posts with label Buster Keaton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buster Keaton. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ain't No Party Like An Old Hollywood Party...

Entrance to Buster Keaton Estate

Mark your calendars. On Saturday, October 6, 2012, the Los Angeles Conservancy is having a benefit dinner party that is being held at the Buster Keaton Estate in Beverly Hills. This your chance to support a great cause and explore the home of a Hollywood legend - and not just one Hollywood legend.

Media Room

The Los Angeles Conservancy website says this about the home:
"Buster Keaton built the 10,000 square-foot home shortly after completing his masterpiece, The General (1926). Yet the estate's Hollywood pedigree doesn't stop there: it was later the home to other stars, including Marlene Dietrich, Cary Grant, and James Mason. By the mid-1990s, the estate had fallen into disrepair. It was purchased by a pair of preservation-minded buyers who immediately undertook a major restoration."

The Entry

Just think of all the guests who have passed through the above entrance way. If only walls could talk - the stories they would be able to tell!

Billiard Room

If you would like to attend, tickets don't come cheap. Individual tickets begin at $300 each and go up to $10,000! But hey, if you got that kind of dough why not put it to good use. Space for dinner is limited. Attire is cocktail or 1920s vintage.

For full details and to purchase tickets visit the Los Angeles Conservancy website.

All photos (c) 2012 LAFIA ARVIN, A DESIGN CORPORATION. To view more photos of the Keaton Estate, including photos before the restoration as well as after the restoration, visit their website here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Buster Keaton Story (1957) - Film Location

Donald O'Connor as Buster Keaton & Ann Blyth

I've read many negative things about the bio film, The Buster Keaton Story (1957), but as a Keaton fan, I figured I needed to see the film once to judge for myself. To be fair, the film isn't awful, it is mildly entertaining, but the story really isn't about Buster Keaton at all. The story is almost entirely fictionalized, with only a few traces of Keaton's life worked in. If the filmmakers were trying to make Keaton's story more dramatic, they didn't need to fictionalize anything - Keaton's true story was pretty tragic already. 

To me the most satisfying thing about watching this film had nothing to do with Buster at all, it was spotting one of the buildings on the Paramount Studios lot that was also used as a set in the classic film, Sunset Boulevard (1950). In the screenshot at the top and and the screenshot below, Donald O'Connor, who portrays Keaton, is seen with the fictional studio exec Gloria Brent, played by Ann Blyth, in front of the offices of "Famous Studio." That office building with the exterior stairs is actually the "Dreier" building on the Paramount Studios lot.

O'Connor and Blyth with the Dreier building at left.

The Dreier building on the Paramount Studios lot.

Rhonda Fleming passes the Dreier building at Paramount.

In the screenshot above Rhonda Fleming, who plays Peggy Courtney in The Buster Keaton Story, walks past the Dreier building. Seven years earlier, we see in the screenshot below, William Holden and Erich von Sroheim in a scene from Sunset Boulevard in front of the Dreier building. In Sunset Boulevard, the Dreier building appears a couple times in the film. The first appearance is when von Stroheim drives Holden and Gloria Swanson to the Paramount Studios lot to visit Cecil B. Demille. The second appearance is when Holden visits the Dreier building late at night to secretly work on a script with Nancy Olson.

William Holden & Erich von Stroheim in front of the Dreier building.

Jim Parsons as "Sheldon" on the television show
"The Big Bang Theory"

Buster Keaton lived a very interesting life, filled with dramatic ups and downs, and it is unfortunate that no one has made a great film about this filmmaker icon. One of my favorite bio pics is the 1992 film, Chaplin, directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin. That film was so beautifully shot, had a stellar cast and a score that transported viewers to the Chaplin era. I wish that Buster Keaton could have such a film made about his life.

One challenge would be finding an actor around today that could portray Keaton. Every time I see the deadpan expressions made by Emmy winning comedy star Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on the hit TV show "The Big Bang Theory," I instantly think of Keaton. Although, Parsons might be a little tall, I think his look is spot on. What do you think? Who do you think would make a good Buster?

Your thoughts?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Buster Keaton Cameraman locations.

Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton's first picture with MGM and my personal favorite of his MGM films is, The Cameraman. MGM also thought this was a pretty good film. They believed it was the perfect comedy and would use it as an example to show all their other directors and producers under contract.
The film is set in New York City and was shot in New York, Hollywood and Venice. Below are some of the locations that were shot in Hollywood.
Southeast corner of Hollywood & Vine
Above is the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. That's the firetruck rounding the corner that Buster Keaton chases and then hops aboard.

Southeast corner of Hollywood & Vine 2009
This is how the southeast corner of Hollywood and Vine appears today. The building is pretty much the same. If you look to the right of the image you can see a building under construction. That's a new W hotel being built on the former site of the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant. Read my earlier post to learn more about that.
The firetruck then turns up Cahuenga Boulevard. The next two screenshots and the following photo show how the street appears in the film and how it looks today.
1612 Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood

1616 Cahuenga Blvd, Hollywood

Cahuenga Boulevard as it appears today.

From Cahuenga the firtruck turns left into a firehouse. The firehouse no longer exists but the building in the background as Buster pulls into the firehouse is still standing. Below is a picture of the building in the background.

If you watch the first 2 minutes of this YouTube video you can see all of these locations as they appear in the film.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Buster Keaton Studios

Metro / Buster Keaton Studios, Hollywood, CA
Of the top three silent comedians this is what comes to mind: when I think of Chaplin I think "finesse." When I think of Lloyd I think "Sporty." When I think of Buster Keaton I think "daring." Keaton devised some of the most elaborate and dangerous stunts of any of the silent film actors. Not only did he do all of his own stunts he often played the role of stunt double for his fellow supporting actors. Many times Keaton would injure himself but that rarely kept him from continuing his work and I believe this, along with his well developed gags, made him one of the greatest.
Many of Keaton's most memorable films including Steamboat Bill, Our Hospitality, and The General to name a few, were made at the Buster Keaton Studio in Hollywood, CA. The main entrance to the studio was located at 1325 Eleanor Ave but the structures of this studio are long gone. In the vintage photo at the top you can see part of the Keaton Studios which eventually became the Metro studios. In the two photos below you can see the studio site as it appears today.
* There used to be a Buster Keaton statue that stood at this location but it has been removed. If you go to where the Eleanor street sign is and look at the ground you can see a plaque where the statue used to stand. I need to go back with a towel and clean it off though in order for a photo of it to show up.
Eleanor Ave & Lillian Way, Hollywood

Site of the former Buster Keaton Studio

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ed Wynn Brings Network TV to Hollywood

Ed Wynn, "The Perfect Fool," was best known as a vaudeville comedian with a distinct laugh who wore silly costumes. Younger people probably remember Wynn more for his comedic film work in many Disney films which include The Gnome Mobile, That Darn Cat!, and the voice of the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland; but before these film roles, Wynn would bring network television to Hollywood.

In the early days of television shows were aired live on the East Coast, a kinescope film was made of the broadcast, and then shipped to the West Coast to be aired at a later date. In 1949, Wynn's variety show, The Ed Wynn Show became the first show to air in Hollywood first and then shipped to the East Coast to be aired at a later date.

The Ed Wynn Show
consisted of many of Wynn's vaudeville jokes and gags. The humor was old-fashioned even for its time but audiences still enjoyed Wynn's likable personality. Although stars were nervous to go on live television where anything could happen, the show still managed to feature many guest stars such as Buster Keaton, The Three Stooges, and Dinah Shore during its short one season run.

Here's a video of The Ed Wynn Show featuring The Three Stooges as guest stars:
Your thoughts?


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