When my friend John Bengtson told me he was thinking about doing a blog called Silent Locations I couldn’t wait to see it! John has been my hero ever since he wrote the absolutely amazing SILENT ECHOES (Santa Monica Press) in 2000, a book that has thrilled not only every fan of Buster Keaton but also lovers of Historic Hollywood and old Los Angeles as well. With that book John did something that still boggles my mind: Using only old maps, vintage aerial photographs, Google images and other internet sources John was able to do the seemingly impossible – figure out the actual locations where Buster shot his comedies, an astounding feat of research made all the more amazing by the fact that he did this all from up in San Francisco. I still shake my head in wonder every time I look at one of his books. He makes it look so easy that you forget for a moment what it would actually take to do such a thing. I tried it once and my head nearly exploded!
SILENT ECHOES was so well received that everyone begged John to do it again, this time for Charlie Chaplin, which he did with equal brilliance with SILENT TRACES. And now he’s in the process of completing the triumvirate of silent comedy masters with his upcoming book about Harold Lloyd called SILENT VISIONS. I’ve had the honor of seeing a snippet of it and I can tell you already that you will want a copy of it. Harold Lloyd is the least understood of these geniuses and I think everyone will gain a new appreciation of Lloyd when they see what John has done for him in SILENT VISIONS. You can preorder it on Amazon by clicking on the link here.
With his remarkable series of books, John has opened up a whole new vista for fans of these silent comedy legends, allowing us to be right there with them as they put together their comedic masterpieces. Understanding their working methods and how they used the whole city as one big movie set makes their movies all the more enjoyable and every fan of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and soon, Harold Lloyd, owe John Bengtson a huge debt of gratitude for the great gifts he has given us.
And now he’s given us another with his brand new blog! John has uncovered so many locations related to silent films that he has set up a new blog to share them with us. I can see already it’s going to be a new addiction for me. Be sure and check this site out and I’ll bet it will become an addiction for you too. It is www.silentlocations.wordpress.com.