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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Location sleuth

Twentieth Century Fox goes to Main Street, Los Angeles. The work of cinematographer Joseph MacDonald:


I had an opportunity to tour the Regent, 448 S. Main St. (yes, it's still standing) during the Los Angeles Conservancy's recent Mainly Main tour. The theater, built in 1914, was never a movie palace, so there's nothing opulent about it. The seats have been removed and the floor, though raked, is poured concrete. The ceiling appears to be mostly intact, as is the proscenium.   There's no stage to speak of and no orchestra pit. This theater was strictly intended for showing movies.


Photograph by Larry Harnisch / Los Angeles Times

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More old movie theater information on the runover:

Here are the movie listings from Nov. 9, 1914. It would be fun to find out how many of these buildings are still standing. I didn't realize the Westlake was that old. And I'm very curious about the plate-glass mirror screen at Miller's Theater.


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Comments (2)

Interesting Still Frame.

I’m not too versed on welding techniques or safety precautions but it would seem that the man carrying the suitcase is closer to the welder working on the streetcar rail than would seem safe. Or at least closer than would be allowed. There’s a lot of equipment on the street and a crew would be necessary for the repair maintenance job. It looks like one man is working out there. A welder wouldn’t be working alone. Maybe the rest of the crew is off camera. For sure vehicle traffic would be stopped and pedestrians would need to be kept at a distance.

That sort of work would need to be done in the early morning hours when the streetcars would not be running. Notice that the rails are for both broad and narrow gauge. Both Los Angeles Railway trolleys and Pacific Electric interurbans ran on Main Street. The Pacific Electric Building, where the PE cars left and entered onto Main and headed north is down Main in the direction of the faint building lights. Those could have been lights on the building itself.

It would appear that The Regent was an all night theater in 1948.

That stretch of Main Street would get pretty awful in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Don’t know if it’s gotten any better the last few years.

--I have been told (and I haven't had a chance to watch the entire film) that "The Street With No Name" has quite a few shots of Main Street. It certainly was funky in the 1940s. The burlesque houses were there, for example.

--Even so, I'm sure our friend the welder was just set up for the shot, like the street crew in the opening of "Double Indemnity."

--If you haven't been in that part of downtown in the last few years you would be shocked. (The Regent ended up as a 24-hour adult movie theater, we were told on the tour). Today, you can actually see people downtown who are walking their dogs or out with a baby stroller. For those of us who once rarely ventured east of Spring Street except to Little Tokyo, it's stunning.



You're first impression was correct- the former Westlake Theatre that's there today is not that old. It was built in 1926. The Westlake in the 1914 listings had to have been in a different building.

I'm sorry I'm leaving this comment so long after the post was made, but I only just found it, linked in a comment from the Cinema Treasures page for the Westlake Theatre:

Incidentally, I went to the Regent with a couple of adventurous friends to see a movie once, sometime around 1963. It was a cheap, triple-feature grind house at the time, used mostly by skid row types as a place to sleep off a drunk or just get off the street for a while. My main memory is that there wasn't enough popcorn in the world to make the Regent smell good. It's interesting to think of that while picturing all the 21st century yuppies who'll be attending trendy soirees there.

Joe Vogel


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