The Hollywood Sign  -  Nothing could be more appropriate than working the famous Hollywood sign into a film.  That’s what director Arnold Laven did for the 1953 Noir, Down Three Dark Streets.  In scene at right Broderick Crawford rescues Ruth Roman at the base of the sign with a smoggy L.A. below.

The Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro was used as a backdrop anytime a dock location was needed. Here Broderick Crawford is confronted in a scene from the 1951 noir The Mob.

The Los Angeles River is a concrete lined channel that is dry most of the year.  An extensive storm drain system feeds into the river from throughout the city.    Above left, Charles McGraw drives down the riverbed trying to evade pursuers in Roadblock.  At right, Richard Basehart in He Walked By Night  also tries to elude the cops in one of the storm drains  that is an offshoot of the river.

The Hollywood Bowl  at right, has been seen in a number of films but rarely noir.  Billy Wilder managed to use it as backdrop for Double Indemnity,  where Fred MacMurray sits with Jean Heather.  Wilder’s nighttime scene kept the noirish atmosphere.   Twelve years later William Campbell and Karen Sharpe sit on the same hill in 1956’s Man In The Vault.

Subway in Los Angeles?

Not quite.  Although L.A. did have one of the most extensive streetcar systems in the country in  the 1940s, it was all above ground except for a short segment underneath the downtown transit terminal.  This building was known as the Subway Terminal at Fifth and Hill Streets.  

The underground segment extended for less than half a mile and was essentially under the hill.  Nonetheless, it found its way into noir.  L.A. now has a modern, albeit short subway system.  

Above - Howard Duff runs in the subway in While The City Sleeps  in 1956.  The film was set in New York City but any New Yorker would instantly recognize that this is no N.Y. subway absent the third rail.


Top right - Dana Andrews runs down the entrance ramp in the same film.


Right - Martha Hyer walks down the same ramp in Down Three Dark Streets.  This film was set in L.A. so they did close ups of the transit cars.

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American Film Noir
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