Silent comedy classics of the 1920s hold up surprisingly well, especially those made by the so-called Holy Trinity of the genre: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd. While these actors took different approaches to comedy—Chaplin blending slapstick and melodrama while Keaton and Lloyd opted rather for daredevil stunt work—their films had a lot of similarities.
One example is a then-unnamed alleyway just south of Hollywood Boulevard, which was a filming location for Chaplin’s The Kid (1921), Keaton’s Cops (1922), and Lloyd’s Safety Last! (1923). The alley marks one of the few spots where the three icons of silent comedy converged.
In the opening scenes of The Kid, the Little Tramp discovers the titular orphan in the alley. In Cops, the alley appears in its most famous stunt sequence, in which Keaton grabs onto the back of a speeding car to escape an angry mob of police. Lloyd passes through the alley when clocking in late for work at the department store in Safety Last! All of these films have been added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, honored for their enduring influence and significance in the American cinema.
The unassuming landmark finally earned recognition in 2021, after film historian John Bengtson proposed the back street be named Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley. A crowdfunded plaque and a new street sign now mark the historic passageway.