Keystone Cops in 1939 film


Image: photographer/source not identified, probably was a studio promotional photo

In what is probably a publicity still for the Hollywood Cavalcade movie, the Keystone Cops emerge from between two trolley cars in a “tight squeeze” auto that has been specially modified. Most likely, the movie showed them riding on a full-width car as they approached the trolleys then switched to this one as they departed. After editing, it would look like their car had been squeezed between the trolleys. The trolleys are from the Los Angeles Railway and the location may have be on 2nd St. near the Subway Terminal.

Aug. 10, 2020 update: […location] was on Douglas Street at Ridge Way about a block north of Edgeware Road in Los Angeles.*

Normally you wouldn’t find the silent-era Keystone Cops appearing in a movie as late as 1939 but Hollywood Cavalcade depicts the transition time from silent to “talkie” films. Learn more about the film at .

“The Keystone Cops (often spelled “Keystone Kops”) are fictional, humorously incompetent policemen featured in silent film slapstick comedies produced by Mack Sennett for his Keystone Film Company between 1912 and 1917.” Excerpt from . See the link to learn more about them.

On this day in 1939, this photo was approved by the Advertising Advisory Council. The full name was Advertising Advisory Council of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc. that decreed that “only such advertising or publicity material or trailers, approved by such Council shall be used in advertising and exploiting” a movie that had been approved for release. This was part of the movie industry’s self-policing practices in response to pressure from some members of the public and governments regarding the moral content of films.

Watch a 31 second video of this scene from the movie :


* Thanks to the Ralph Cantos update here: that shows a different pose of the Keystone Cops at the same location. Thanks, too, to John Bengtson of for his assistance in providing similar photos, one of which showed a street sign that wasn’t visible in other pictures. And thanks to Steve Crise, Los Angeles trolley historian and co-author of this “then and now” book on PE red cars who may use this blog photo in his upcoming “then and now” book on Los Angeles Railway cars.

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