Harold Lloyd and film noir? It’s true. Lloyd filmed frequently on Bunker Hill and at other downtown locations, far more so than did Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. After decades of accumulated grime and neglect, the benign settings appearing in Lloyd’s early silent films became the stark and gritty landscapes favored by the post WWII urban dramas. Ironically then, Lloyd, one of the silent era’s sunniest comedians, will forever be tied to the noir genre.
In the top image from Hot Water (1924), Lloyd watches his family car run away down Olive Street from the corner of 3rd Street. The shadow of the Angels Flight observation tower appears on the street at the left foreground. In The Turning Point (1952), a cynical investigative reporter played by William Holden trails a suspected corrupt cop up Olive Street towards the corner of 3rd.
Both scenes were filmed looking south down Olive Street from Third Street, near the top entrance to Angels Flight, just off camera to the left. The more famous of Los Angeles’ two funicular railroads originally stood next to the Third Street Tunnel. Today Angels Flight has been relocated a half block further west. The Olive Inn and The Ems Apartments loom prominently in the center of each shot.
Bunker Hill was scraped clean and completely rebuilt during the civic redevelopment boom beginning in the 1960s. With the redevelopment’s resulting elevated streets and pedestrian malls, certain intersections such as 3rd and Olive no longer exist.
My book Silent Visions has an entire chapter devoted to Harold Lloyd filming on Bunker Hill. Look for future posts of Harold filming at noir classic settings.
HAROLD LLOYD images and the names of Mr. Lloyd’s films are all trademarks and/or service marks of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc. Images and movie frame images reproduced courtesy of The Harold Lloyd Trust and Harold Lloyd Entertainment Inc.
The Turning Point (C) Paramount Pictures Corporation.