Fall 2006

Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin
(Santa Monica Press, 301 pages, $24.95)
By John Bengtson

A worthy companion piece to the Schickel collection is John Bengtson’s deliriously obsessive and bracingly thorough Silent Traces, which scours the backgrounds of Chaplin’s films to point out their exact locations, past and present, in a collection of vintage and contemporary photographs. In the process, Bengtson (who previously compiled a similar volume for the films of Buster Keaton) uncovers a mesmerizing lost geography of the emergent city of Los Angeles. A boon to fans of Thom Anderson’s documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, this softbound book offers pleasures that verge on the Proustian, and belongs in the car of any civically conscious Angelino.

Review written by John Patterson.


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