How Silent Film Star Harold Lloyd “Flew” Through 1924 Multi-Modal Los Angeles


The silent film era of the 1910’s and 1920’s was a period of explosive growth for Los Angeles.  For example, the number of automobiles registered in Los Angeles County quadrupled in just eight years, from 1914-1922.

This transition to a vibrant city can be seen in silent film star Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy (1924), which features Lloyd racing through Los Angeles in its exhilarating multi-modal climax, commandeering not only a Pacific Electric streetcar, but several automobiles, a fire engine, a police motorcycle, and a horse wagon to rescue his love from marrying another man.

The elaborate streetcar scene in the film’s finale can be viewed here:

These scenes were filmed primarily on the Franklin Avenue Line along Yucca and Argyle Streets, near the present-day Capitol Records Building in Hollywood.

According to film historian John Bengston, who provides the photo overlays above and who the New York Times called “the great detective of silent film locations”:

Lloyd’s elaborate race to the altar [is] staged on the streets of Hollywood, San Fernando, Altadena, Palms, Culver City, Bunker Hill, Rampart Village, Fort Moore Hill, and downtown Los Angeles.

Earlier in the film, one can even spot the L.A. Gas Company storage tanks which stood near present day Union Station.

But Girl Shy was not the only Lloyd film to depict a rapidly-evolving Los Angeles.  As Mark Shiel writes in Hollywood Cinema and the Real Los Angeles, Lloyd’s Get Out and Get Under (1920) and Hot Water (1924):

articulate struggles specific to Los Angeles in the 1920’s when streetcar use peaked, automobile ownership exploded, and pedestrians, horses, and trains were increasingly a thing of the past.

More information about Pacific Electric Railway’s role in the production of Girl Shy can be found in the October 10, 1924 issue of Pacific Electric employee news magazine.