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Ephemera(l) City: Los Angeles in Travelogues, Industrial Films & Amateur Movies

November 20, 2015 - 7:30 pm

Booster dreams and noirish visions comingle in tonight’s program covering almost 60 years of Los Angeles history as seen through a selection of travelogues, industrial films and amateur movies.  Between the Ford Motor Company’s silent-era portrait of a booming young metropolis and the DWP’s early 1970s promotion of an imminent, water-drenched Pacific Rim economic explosion, street-level views of Depression-era Downtown and the end of the Pacific Electric railway capture the ever-shifting landscapes and fortunes of the city.

Live musical accompaniment provided by Cliff Retallick for the silent portion of this program.

Total running time of program:  approx. 120 min.

Media courtesy of Flicker Alley.

A Visit to Los Angeles  (1916)

The Ford Motor Company presents a silent tour of Los Angeles as part of “Visits to American Cities,” a segment included in Ford Educational Weekly, its free, weekly film “magazine.”

DigiBeta, b/w, silent, 11 min.  Production: Ford Motor Company.

Hollywood, City of Celluloid  (1932)

The glamorous side of Hollywood is the subject of this tour of studio backlots and hillside bungalows.

35mm, b/w, 8 min.  Producer: Sten Nordenskiöld.  Screenwriter: C. Court Treatt.  Cinematographer: Sten Nordenskiöld.  With: Robert Swan (narrator).

Citywatchers—Excerpt: “Earle O’ Day Film of Downtown LA c. 1935”  (1974)

Los Angeles Times
film critic and Citywatchers host Charles Champlin narrates a short film shot by publicist Earle O'Day, who contemplates various scenes of Downtown people and places while composing a letter about Los Angeles to family back in St. Joseph, Missouri.

BetaSP, b/w, 12 min.  With: Charles Champlin, Art Seidenbaum

The Last Red Cars  (1963)

Local rail enthusiast Dub Harkey produced this silent ode to the Pacific Electric streetcars, a.k.a. the Red Car, shot on the last day of their service.

16mm, b/w, silent, 20 min.  Producer: Dub Harkey.  Director: Dub Harkey.

Expedition Los Angeles: While the City Sleeps  (1961)


This episode of a short-lived local public service program presents a noir-tinged look at the city after dark.

16mm, b/w, 30 min.  Producer: Stanley Z. Cherry.  Screenwriter: Saul Halpert.  Editor: Bob Collins.  With: Lee Zimmer (narrator).

Subject: Los Angeles (c. 1970)

An epic industrial paean to the natural resources, industry, culture and spirit of Los Angeles circa 1970, this DWP promotional film almost makes you want to live here!

16mm, color, 27 min.  Production: Department of Water and Power.  Producer: Richard J. Soltys.  Director: Richard J. Soltys.  Screenwriter: Don Livingston.  Cinematographer: Dan Yarussi.  Editor: Dick Bansbach.