The Adventures of Tiny Buster: Southwest Edition

Whenever I (plan to) go out of town, I usually get in the habit of trying to look for places or things that have some connection to film history. For this road trip, I wasn’t entirely sure I’d find that much, so I decided to bring Tiny Buster along with me.

The first stop was about 70 miles north of Kingman, Arizona. I had just finished reading Rudi Blesh’s Keaton last month, and recalled that the Mohave County is where Buster Keaton filmed his 1925 film Go West. I couldn’t find any outlines that resembled the mountains in the photos I hastily scrambled to look up on my phone (before the signal went out again), but I did find this:

I’m positive this is just wishful thinking, but I was still pleasantly surprised to end up at this sign, just how Buster’s character ended up at the Diamond Bar Ranch in the film.

Continuing further along, the sleepy town of Williams came into view, where an impressive time capsule of Route 66 is preserved just off the main highway. It really feels like a step back in time to the heyday (or for Tiny Buster, a step forward) with its display of mid-century automobiles and rows of brick-and-mortar shops embellished in neon.

Tiny Buster may have found his favorite coffee shop: train motifs EVERYWHERE.

The majority of the proceeding day kept Tiny Buster in my purse as it started to rain in Sedona, but he seemed to be enjoying the furnishings upon arriving at the next hotel.

Post-pratfall.

Already a few days into the trip, it was time to head back up and see the Grand Canyon before continuing onto Utah.

Monument Valley is simply a breathtaking place, and was used as the backdrop in a lot of films, most notably Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers (1956). Unfortunately, I had to miss my second outing through the park this time around, since I spent all night and morning at the mercy of a freak stomach bug. Luckily, this was the view from our balcony…

Arriving in Page (Arizona), I stayed in bed for the next two days, desperately trying to recover. Tiny Buster kept me company, though.

By the time we hit the road again, I started getting some of my strength back. Our next destination was Bryce Canyon, and the drive there is incredibly picturesque and one of my favorites. Once we passed through the town of Kanab, I spotted the words “Hollywood” and “museum” whizzing by. After looking it up, it appears that a little bit of movie history (dating back to the Silent Era) had found its way into Kanab, which is also known as “Little Hollywood.” Next time, I’ll have to remember to stop and pay a visit!

More hotel shenanigans.

The following day had Zion National Park written on the schedule. It was sweltering hot, but I somehow ended up taking refuge at a tiny movie theater, which had photographs of Old Hollywood stars on the interior columns. Stupidly, I didn’t take a photo.

Last but not least, our road trip culminated in Las Vegas, where Tiny Buster spent most of his time napping about in unusual places.

And it was here that something incredible happened: from my window, I saw Audrey Hepburn’s profile on a marquee just across the street from my hotel. It turns out that the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art was presenting Yousuf Karsh: Icons of the 20th Century, and I raced (read: lazily sauntered) over in the baking temperatures to catch a glimpse of the exhibition. The gallery was small—just two rooms—but one of them held portraits of the more well-known Old Hollywood stars and figures, including Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, The Marx Brothers, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, and Audrey Hepburn.

The lobby also held some movie posters, including one for Sabrina (1954) and a few Hitchcock films. Despite some of the more unfortunate moments of my trip, it’s the little things that completely make up for it.

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