The Madeleine Brand Show for July 12, 2012

David Kipen remembers Bunker Hill's film noir past

Rick Hall/flickr Creative Commons

From The Exiles (1961), directed by Kent Mackenzie.

Rick Hall/flickr Creative Commons

Angel's Flight in 1961.

Rick Hall/flickr Creative Commons

Angel's Flight in 1961.


After Los Angeles became an incorporated city in 1850, wealthy Angelenos began building large Victorian homes on the hill just West of the downtown Brea, which later became known as Bunker Hill.

The unusual architecture, dark alleys and numerous stairways could not have been duplicated on a studio lot, and for a time, filmmakers made extensive use of the area.

"Bunker Hill fell into charming disrepair by the mid-century, and became the location for a lot of terrific movies, [and] a whole lot of film noir," critic David Kipen said. Examples of films set in Bunker Hill include Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing," Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly and "The Asphalt Jungle" from John Huston.

Today, Bunker Hill is an indistinguishable part of downtown Los Angeles. Other than a few Victorian houses that were moved and restored in a cultural park, there are only few reminders of what the area once was.

But Jim Dawson's new book, "Los Angeles's Bunker Hill: Pulp Fiction's Mean Streets and Film Noir's Ground Zero!" explores the shadowy history of the area, from its film noir past to the current era of re-development.

Tonight, at the Gary Leonard Gallery in Downtown L.A., a photo exhibit debuts focusing on Bunker Hill in its 'dilapidated hey-day.' Saturday, Jim Dawson will be signing copies of "Los Angeles's Bunker Hill: Pulp Fiction's Mean Streets and Film Noir's Ground Zero!" at the same gallery.

Guest:

David Kipen, a regular contributor to this show and the founder of Libros Schmibros, a lending library in Boyle Heights.


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