The Black Dahlia and Downtown L.A. at Night, 1946

"Down to Earth"

"Down to Earth"

Photo: Man with a slate in footage shot for “Down to Earth.”


My friends over at the 1947project have found some process footage that was filmed about April 1946 for the Columbia feature “Down to Earth.”

It’s unfortunate that they are hyping it as an eerie foreshadowing of the Black Dahlia case,   allegedly tracing Elizabeth Short’s path on the night she disappeared, purportedly walking from the Biltmore to the Crown Grill. In truth, nobody knows for certain where she went or what she did.

The Crown Jewel Cocktail Room (also known as the the Crown Jewel Grill, the Crown Grill and the Crown Grill Cocktail Lounge), 427 W. 8th St., was just another downtown bar where people thought they had seen Elizabeth Short. There is a shadow  — but only a shadow — of truth because her roommate Ann Toth sometimes met her boyfriend there.

But there’s nothing in any official records to confirm that Elizabeth Short ever set foot in the place, despite a fairly extensive investigation by the district attorney’s office. And it is less than honest to present such a statement so definitively and without attribution.

Downtown L.A. in color | black and white version

But the footage of downtown Los Angeles is worth a look:

"Down to Earth"

The Biltmore, obscured by a bus. Warning: Olive is now a one-way street, so it’s impossible to re-create this drive.

Biltmore Hotel
Now obscured by planters, via Google’s Street View.

'Down to Earth'

Construction underway at the United Airlines office at 6th and Olive.

6th and Olive

6th and Olive via Google’s Street View.

'Down to Earth'
Aha! Traffic cop!

'Down to Earth'

A bus!

'Down to Earth'

Olive and 7th.

Olive and 7th

Olive and 7th via Google’s Street View.

'Down to Earth'

Notice the style of streetlights at 7th and Olive.

'Down to Earth'

Maurice Ball Custom Furs!

Olive Street

Now it’s a 7-Eleven!

"Down to Earth"

Olive, turning east on 8th.

8th and Olive

Now a parking lot, via Google’s Street View.

'Down to Earth'

It’s Coffee Dan’s!

'Down to Earth'

Look! It’s the RKO Hillstreet Theatre at 8th and Hill!

8th and Hill

Oh, that’s an improvement.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Another Good Story Ruined, Architecture, Black Dahlia, Downtown, Film, Hollywood, Preservation, Theaters and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Black Dahlia and Downtown L.A. at Night, 1946

  1. Sam Flowers says:

    Notice all the Police presence. This s an arranged shooting for stock footage for a movie I believe. I wish it could be slowed down so I can marvel at all the signs, Acme signals (all turned off by the way) and cars.

  2. CatM says:

    Oh my gosh these before and after pictures are marvelous! I clicked on the link because I love Down To Earth – cheeseball as it may be – but these pictures are really giving me goosebumps. Look at those CARS! Look at those lights! I miss the place, I really do. And I miss what it used to be as well. Ah, me.

  3. Eve says:

    I read in the NY Times today about the probability of more skyscrapers ruining what is left of old L.A. Too sad. I saw my own hometown, Philadelphia, destroyed by row upon row of towering monstrosities (including the first, unaffectionately known as “the Jesus H. Chrysler Building”).

  4. Like I’ve always said: don’t let the facts, or at least the truth, get in the way of a good story! ;)
    But, wunderful fotos indeed!

  5. Charles Seims says:

    The two gray busses are movie props, possibly parked there to hide something. The red Pacific Electric bus has just left the Olive Street bus deck of the Subway Terminal Building. Can’t see its destination, but possibly the Redondo-Gardena line.

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