Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton is an epic look at a genius at work and at a Hollywood that no longer exists. Painstakingly researching the locations used in Buster Keaton’s classic silent films, author John Bengtson combines images from Keaton’s movies with archival photographs, historic maps, and scores of dramatic then” and now” photos. In the process, Bengtson reveals dozens of locations that lay undiscovered for nearly 80 years.
Part time machine, part detective story, Silent Echoes presents a fresh look at the matchless Keaton at work, as well as a captivating glimpse of Hollywood’s most romantic era. More than a book for film, comedy, or history buffs, Silent Echoes appeals to anyone fascinated with solving puzzles or witnessing the awesome passage of time.
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John Bengtson is a business lawyer and film historian who discovered the magic of silent comedy at an early age. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin, Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton, and Silent Visions: Discovering Early Hollywood and New York Through the Films of Harold Lloyd. Bengtson has presented his work on Buster Keaton as keynote speaker at events hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. He is a featured columnist of the Keaton Chronicle newsletter, and lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his two daughters.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Foreword by Kevin Brownlow, Emmy Award-winning Producer/Director/Film Historian. Los Angeles is the most photographed town in the world. A fascinating film could be made showing its architectural progress simply by using exteriors from the thousands of films shot in its streets. It was footage of the Los Angeles area, appearing in the first films to be made in California, that precipitated the incredible population explosion. Cameramen would select the prettiest street corner, wait until the light was right, and, when they saw the movie, a few hundred more disillusioned Easterners and mid-Westerners would pack their bags. And how attractive Los Angeles was when pictures were silent, and Buster Keaton was making his comedies. In Keatons day, Hollywood was as close as any town could get to paradise. With a backdrop of hills, Sunset Boulevard was still rural enough to have a bridle path down the middle. Busters studio already had a noble heritage, having been the headquarters of Charlie Chaplin under the romantic name of the Lone Star Studio. Nearby was the classical facade of the administration building of the Metro Company, which released Keatons films, and where Valentino appeared in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hollywood still had all the attributes of a small town. The original inhabitants' mid-Western prohibitionists' may once have been shocked by the sudden arrival of the picture people, but by the 1920s most people appreciated the source of the towns prosperity. One should addfor it is easy to lose sight of this in modern Hollywoodthat the picture pioneers were remarkably pleasant people. I interviewed scores of them, including Keaton, and they were the most extraordinary characters I ever met, enthusiastic about their work, full of excitement, humour, and charmand they retained these qualities into their old age. On the other hand, Hollywood itself has grown a bit raddled. Whenever any of the veterans took me for a tour of the place, they invariably got lost and sighed deeply for the old days. All the old landmarks seem to have been ruthlessly bulldozed, from D. W. Griffiths studio at the junction of Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards (now a supermarket) to Lot Three at MGM (now a condominium development.) One assumed that evidence of the old Los Angeles, the old Hollywood, lay only in photographs and motion pictures. And then came John Bengtson. Thanks to his sixth sense, his detective's nose, and historians tenacity, we can discover scores of locations that we had assumed had been flattened. He gives an entirely new level of interest to the city. Of course, changes occur every day and more and more buildings are demolished, so youd better hurry if you want to see these locations. But either way, he has provided an excellent record, and he will have given new heart to other researchers. I envy John Bengtson's achievement as much as I admire it, because I have had a go at this sort of thing myself. With David Gill, I prowled the streets of L.A. and went to Cottage Grove, in Oregon, to film locations for our documentary Buster Keaton - A Hard Act to Follow. Despite all the resources of Thames Television and eager researchers, we did not find out nearly as much as Bengtson did on his own. I suspect he may have invented a new art form. Certainly it's a godsend for film enthusiasts. Let us hope more of his location surveys appear in the future. Kevin Brownlow, London
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Buchbeschreibung Santa Monica Press, 1999. Paperback. Buchzustand: Near Fine. Reprint. 11 X 8.60 X 0.90 inches. Artikel-Nr. 46824