Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
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Chaplin at First Presbyterian Church
Newhall, California

CHARLIE CHAPLIN

THE PILGRIM (1923)
SPRR Saugus Depot

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Full Movie

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Depot Screenshots

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Inside Depot

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Church Screenshots

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The original wooden First Presbyterian Church of Newhall (1891-1923) gets 20 seconds of screen time — exteriors only — in Charlie Chaplin's 1923 production of "The Pilgrim." (Chaplin was writer, director, producer, film editor and star.)

Sequentially in the movie, Chaplin uses both interiors and exteriors of the Saugus Train Station (which was in Saugus, now in Newhall). A bit later there is a church scene. Interiors were filmed on a sound stage, not in our local church. A quick cutaway of Chaplin leaning out the church window also was not at our local church. But then Chaplin and cast members leave the church. That's when the local church building is used.

We see Chaplin exit through the front door of the church, then trip on the stairs and land on his butt. Or bum, as he would say. Next come some greetings, and then the cast exits, stage right. We see the front of the church for a total of 20 seconds not counting the title card that cuts in for 6 seconds. (That is significantly longer than we see Beale's Cut, and for that matter, the Santa Clarita Valley, in John Ford's 1939 "Stagecoach.")

"The Pilgrim" gives us the tightest closeups of the original church building that are known.

"The Pilgrim," which premiered February 25, 1923, in New York City, must have been one of the last motion picutures to use the original church building as a location. That same year, the wooden structure was replaced by a much more substantial brick building. The replacement was ruined in the 1971 Sylmar-San Fernando Earthquake.


LW3402: Download individual screenshots here.
NEWHALL FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

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History 1891-1991

Reynolds Story


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1st Church Building

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Parsonage Construction 1914

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Film Shoot ~1920

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Chaplin in "The Pilgrim" 1923

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Fellowship Hall Construction 1950s

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1960s

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1977 Building Dedication

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