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Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin Paperback – August 1, 2006


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Silent Traces: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Charlie Chaplin + Silent Echoes: Discovering Early Hollywood Through the Films of Buster Keaton + Silent Visions: Discovering Early Hollywood and New York Through the Films of Harold Lloyd
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Santa Monica Press; 1st ed edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159580014X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595800145
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A delightfully obsessive piece of artistic detective work...that would make the ghost of Jacques Derrida weep with pleasure."  —Los Angeles Times Book Review


"John Bengtson has again produced a book that combines film history, social history, and a cultural study of Los Angeles."  —Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian



"John Bengtson uses the films of Charlie Chaplin to perform effortless miracles of observation and detection."  —Los Angeles Times


"What a debt we owe him! . . . Silent Traces is a marvelous sequel to his book on Buster Keaton."  —Kevin Brownlow, director and film historian



"Silent Traces offers fascinating glimpses of Charlie Chaplin's Hollywood in relation to the Hollywood of today." —Bob Mondello, National Public Radio


"Silent Traces is terrific! Bravo!' —Ray Bradbury


"Silent Traces is a fascinating inquiry that transcends the geographical and approaches the spiritual." —Palm Beach Post


"Film history at its most accessible, this volume is a treasure for Chaplin fans."  —Editor's Guild Magazine

From the Back Cover

"John Bengtson uses the films of Charlie Chaplin to perform effortless miracles of observation and detection. He widens our cultural horizons and treats us to a most entertaining education in cinema and California history." -Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"What a debt we owe him! ... Had it not been for John Bengtson's heroic researches, virtually all traces of the silent era would likely have been erased. Silent Traces is a marvelous sequel to his book on Buster Keaton." -Kevin Brownlow, director and film historian

"Silent Traces offers fascinating glimpses of Charlie Chaplin's Hollywood in relation to the Hollywood of today. If you think Chaplin's Hollywood has disappeared, John Bengtson will prove you wrong so entertainingly that you'll half expect the Little Tramp to show up in person to turn the pages." -Bob Mondello, National Public Radio

"John Bengtson has again produced a book that combines film history, social history, and a cultural study of Los Angeles. It's unique and fascinating." -Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian


More About the Author

John Bengtson is a business lawyer and film historian whose books Silent Echoes, Silent Traces, and Silent Visions explore the early Hollywood history hidden in the background of the films of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd. John's work has been hailed by the New York Times as a "Proustian collage of time and memory, biography and history, urban growth and artistic expression." John has presented his work at events hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Turner Classic Movie Channel Film Festival, both Film Forum and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, USC, UCLA, and the American Cinematheque, and has prepared bonus programs for many Keaton, Chaplin, and Lloyd DVD/Blu-rays. John lives in the Bay Area. For tours, maps, presentations, and new discoveries, visit John's blog: http://SilentLocations.Wordpress.com/

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I recommend this book to all Charlie Chaplin enthusiast and history buffs alike.
Christy L. Denenberg
My only complaint (and this is a quibble) is that for such a nice book, I wish the publishers had released it in hardback!
Lonnie W. Neubauer
Bengston's similar work on Buster Keaton is selling at a massive premium as well it should.
Ken McCarthy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Richard J. Oravitz on December 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Along with Bengtson's previous SILENT ECHOES (Buster Keaton) this is absolutely amazing stuff!!! I've been fascinated by this before & after photography since purchasing several Dover books (NEW YORK THEN AND NOW; WASHINGTON...etc)in the 1970's (still available at amazon) & Frassanito's series of Civil War books (GETTYSBURG...ANTIETAM, ETC...1980's) that show modern views of battlefield sites (also still avail...). But Bengtson clearly is the undisputed master of such "STUFF". The detective work involved in locating the actual sites where Chaplin (& Keaton) filmed their masterpieces is nothing less than astounding! Why isn't this guy working for our government on some top-secret spy project? I was & am simply blown away by Bengtson's books! I've revisited Chaplin's & Keaton's films & have enjoyed them even more (if that can possibly be) thanks to Bengtson. What's next...Lloyd?...Sennett& Keystone?...Fatty?
AN ABSOLUTE MUST-HAVE FOR FANS OF CHAPLIN, KEATON & SILENT SCREEN COMEDY!!! BUY AT ALL COSTS.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Edward Dunn on January 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
In 1999, I posted a 4-star Amazon review of John Bengtson's "Silent Echoes--The Films of Buster Keaton." While I praised the book as a masterpiece of urban archaeology, I think...at the time...I ultimately considered it to be an accomplished curiosity. It's not and, if I had it to do over, I'd opt for a 5+ rating. "Silent Echoes," and now "Silent Traces," are ingenious works of film scholarship that use environment and architecture to map the unique genius of their respectives subjects. At the time of the "Silent Echoes" publication, I lived in California and made a number of trips to LA armed with my now dog-eared copy of the book. (The related website was an equally dazzling revelation in unearthing long-lost LA.) The more I used the book to guide me through the landscape of Keaton's filmography, the more it became apparent that Bengtson was, in fact, charting the manner in which Keaton spun comic genius from the world around him. He constructed a unique world view from the pieces of the real world...a now quaint and unrecognizable LA of a past age more akin to the gentleness of spirit that imbued his work. If nothing else, the book was worth it for its view into the now faded glories of Venice Beach. I'm now on the East Coast, so I'll have less opportunity to trace Chaplin's journey through old LA, but that doesn't make the book any less rewarding. Now, we can only hope that, six or seven years down the road, Mr. Bengtson does the same service to Harold Lloyd, thus completing a study of the Holy Trinity of silent comedy. The rating for the Keaton and Chaplin books: Not enough stars in the heavens!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Wilson on September 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
All in all, this book represents a massive amount of research and contains a lot of great information. Now don't get me wrong... I do like the book, but for me though, the book fails on 2 levels: 1. the soft cover combined with the 300 pages and 11" depth makes it flop all over the place and subsequently I kept damaging the book. You have to set it on a table to read it. It's very inconvenient; but easily solvable with a hard cover. 2. The "now" pictures are in black & white. This is the most disappointing aspect of the book. The emphasis on change, and being made to feel like you are visiting the "now" location is lost in the myriad photos from different time periods. I almost felt sea sick

trying to separate the then and now pictures. I guess I was expecting the original pictures to be lined up the current pictures for a stunning contrast.

I suppose that both of these things decisions were made for cost of production reasons, which I can understand to some degree. In the end however, the feel of the book is more academic than entertaining. For a true Charlie fan, it is a treasure trove of information, but a little bit disappointing. Having never knocked a book for stuff like this before,I must have some sort of leg to stand on. So, overall, a great book with a wealth of information, poorly packaged.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lonnie W. Neubauer on August 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a FUN new book for Chaplin fanatics to own (and I am one of them!) I have purchased, for my personal library, almost every book on Charlie that's been printed over the last 30 years, and I feel that this is a VERY worthy volume - in fact, it's already one of my favorites. It's one of those books that you just know you will be looking at again and again. It has a nice "look" to it inside - alot of nice pictures from Charlie's films, arranged chronologically (the Keystones, then Essanays, then the Mutuals, the First Nationals, and then Chaplin's United Artists and later films). Bengtson examines them, film by film, with alot of pictorial clues (aerial views, maps, etc.) as to exactly where the various shots were done, and "then and now" photos - all laid out in an easy to follow format. My only complaint (and this is a quibble) is that for such a nice book, I wish the publishers had released it in hardback! Oh well. Anyway, this is a very evocative book, and really makes me want to get to L.A. to make a pilgrimage to some of these Chaplin locales myself! I would of course HIGHLY recommend it as a "must own" book to any fellow Charlie-lover, and also to people who like silent films, and classic films, in general.
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