Buster Keaton in West Sacramento

The silent-era film star left an indelible mark along the Sacramento River.

A black-and-white photo showing two sailers leaning against a rope on a dock.

Buster Keaton, left, is seen standing before the Sacramento River in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”

Public Domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular gags of the silent film era, one which we could say left an indelible impression on our region, was shot not far from the Sacramento River in modern-day West Sacramento.

How could it have left an indelible impression? Well, the facade of a West Sacramento home falls heavily to the ground, narrowly missing Buster Keaton who has been perfectly placed to pass through the building’s second-story window. The scene is from Buster’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.,” which shot on-location around Sacramento in 1927.

In fact, there’s a fascinating mini-documentary that does a side-by-side comparison of what Sacramento looked like during the production of Buster’s movie to what our area looked like in 2020. Our favorite part? Seeing the bustling port that once was Discovery Park.

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