Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Bunker Hill And Angels Flight

If God had intended us to fly he would have given us railways.
-Michael Flanders

My husband and I lost our satellite TV last summer when our neighbor's trees finally reached the height where the branches were interfering with our signal. We switched to basic cable (crappy) and joined Netflix. I spent an hour creating a play list and after buying a wireless Blu-ray DVD player we were set up to stream tons of movies from Netflix to our television set.

Now, I am a big fan of black and white movies from the 1950's and especially of the genre known as Film Noir. I like the fact that most of them are filmed on the streets of Los Angeles or other towns. They are a peek into the past, showing us what the cities they are filmed in looked like at that time, how the people dressed, what cars they drove, where they shopped, and how much things cost. Sometimes I am concentrating so hard on what is happening in the background of theses films I have to rewind the movie and listen again to what I missed of the story.

Below is a list of movies I watched last week along with information about where some scenes were filmed and other tidbits about the movie:

1. The Turning Point (1952) Los Angeles, Bunker Hill neighborhood and Angel Flight.

2. Cry Danger(1951) Los Angeles, Bunker Hill neighborhood with a very cool trailer park.

3. Private Hell 36 (1954) Los Angeles. Directed by Ida Lupino, staring Lupino and her then husband Howard Duff and written by her with her ex-husband Collier Young. It also has Duff and Lupino's baby daughter playing Duff and his screen wife's baby. It was a family affair.

4. Johnny Cool (1963) Los Angeles, including hills above it and Newport Beach. Staring Elizabeth Montgomery before she married Darrin.

5. Plunder Road (1957) Los Angeles, including the freeway and other small California towns.

6.The Sound of Fury (1950) California and Arizona. Lloyd Bridges plays a very bad man. Based on a true story.

7. Hell's Half Acre (1954) Honolulu, Hawaii, back before Hawaii was a state and when you needed a passport to visit from the mainland.

8. Cry Vengeance (1954) Ketchikan, Alaska with cool airplanes.

9. The Big Boodle (1957) Havana, Cuba before the revolution.

There is a reason for the order in which I have listed these movies. As you can see the first five movies take place in LA and the first two movies take place in the Bunker Hill neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Bunker Hill in these movies no longer exists. Bunker Hill started out as a rich section of the city but by the mid 1950's it was considered a slum with a majority of the original homes and apartments nothing but flop houses. In a misguided attempt at urban renewal the city had every building on top of Bunker Hill leveled and by 1969 it was all gone. I find that a crying shame.

Bunker Hill, 1900. All of these buildings in this photo are gone.

The Turning Point is the first movie on the list because in addition to being filmed in Bunker Hill, it has scenes filmed on and around Angels Flight, an incline railroad that traveled up to Bunker Hill from downtown Los Angeles. I fell in love with Angels Flight after I got a glimpse of it on TV in the movie The Glenn Miller Story. What can I say? It is just cool.

Angels Flight in 1960.

Angels Flight was almost destroyed in 1959 but public outrage saved it. In 1969 Angels Flight was dismantled and put in storage for 27 years. In 1996 it was reassembled half a block south of the original site but with a new track and system for hauling the cars up and down the line. So in reality Angels Flight died when the old Bunker Hill did. At least we still have images of Bunker Hill in these films even though they are images of ghost people walking around ghost streets in a ghost town. As I said, it's a crying shame.

For more photos of Bunker Hill buildings go to On Bunker Hill. This side bar on this site includes a list of many of the films shot in the Bunker Hill neighborhood.

For more photos of Angels Flight go here.


Jim Dawson said...

Glad to see that folks are interested in Bunker Hill. A couple of scenes in "Cry Danger" were shot on Bunker Hill, namely the bar at Third and Olive and the Nugent Hotel at Third and Grand, but the Clover Trailer Park was on North Hill Place, several blocks north of Bunker Hill. See www.electricearl.com/bh.  Jim Dawson, writer, "Los Angeles's Angels Flight" (www.electricearl.com/af)

la peregrina said...

Jim, thank you for dropping by to leave a comment and the link to the page about Bunker Hill and the movies. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful- and I am talking about both the site and your book.   Just ordered a copy of the book and know it will be interesting as I have bought other Arcadia Publishing books.  Thank you, again, for dropping by and letting me know about your book and about the Clover Trailer Park. It may not have been on Bunker Hill but it still was pretty cool.