What’s been your coping mechanism during the pandemic? For me, it’s been silent movies.
The Silent Comedy Watch Party — a live YouTube stream of silent shorts accompanied by Ben Model on piano, with commentary from Steve Massa — has become a Sunday afternoon habit since the spring. Recent virtual screenings from CineCon and the Niles Essanay Museum have been a delight. And I already have my pass for the Pordenone Silent Film Festival — on-line this year for less than $12!
“Enjoy the silence,” Pordenone suggests on their website (thanks Google Translate!) and I have almost daily — a welcome respite from bad news
So I was thrilled to hear that silent film historian John Bengtson has launched an effort to recognize the three geniuses of silent comedy: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. Bengtson, author of books on the filming locations used by these comedy gods, seeks to christen a pedestrian alley in the heart of Hollywood as Chaplin Keaton Lloyd Alley. This unassuming byway just south of Hollywood Blvd. was a location for Chaplin’s THE KID (1921), Keaton’s COPS (1922), and Lloyd’s SAFETY LAST! (1923).
“This is the most unique confluence of stars and locations I’ve ever found,” Bengtson said of the location, which has also been used by filmmakers as diverse as Harry Houdini, Lois Weber and Tim Burton. Here’s his video explaining the initiative:
If you’d like to support John’s effort to make Chaplin Keaton Lloyd Alley an “international destination” for film lovers, here’s what you can do:
• Watch the video and give it a thumbs up;
• Leave a review of the alley on Google Maps (I wrote “As more and more of film history is lost to time, this spot endures. Recognize it!”)
• Share this project with fellow film fans on your social channels.
The more you spread the word, the more these men are likely to be recognized by a city they helped make famous. And hopefully, once this profoundly unfunny moment in history is over, we can all meet up there during a film festival.