Baby Let’s Cruise: 1940s Bunker Hill

Thanks to the Internet Archive by way of Blogdowntown I found this high-resolution digitization of some amazing footage of 1940s downtown, apparently filmed for use in some unidentified motion picture. Look close and you might see John Fante (or perhaps even Arturo Bandini) walking around.

The clip is made up of several segments, and is literally the next best thing to actual time travel. As best as I can plot it the car follows this route from 2nd Street to Grand, to 5th Street to Flower and back up to 2nd. I’ve already spent too much time scrolling through it frame by frame just entirely mindblown at the slice-of-life details to be discovered in the people and places and passenger vehicles the camera captures in passing, and invite you to get lost in this record of a long-gone Bunker Hill (best viewed full screen in 1080p) :

4 Replies to “Baby Let’s Cruise: 1940s Bunker Hill”

    1. I may give that a try via my bike-mounted cam, but the same exact route isn’t possible today. Back then Flower and 2nd Street crossed cleanly, but that intersection’s long gone.

    1. These scenes were filmed for “process plates” to be used in rear screen projection on a movie studio sound stage. The actor(s) were usually seated in a stationary prop car facing the camera while these moving scenes appeared in the background giving the illusion of motion. Sometimes the prop car was rocked a bit by stage hands. These clips are “straight back” plates; side and front views were also filmed. A typical process plate was about two hundred feet of film or roughly two minutes, enough time for the actor(s) to say their lines throughout the scene.The high quality scenes you are watching come from cellulose silver nitrate film stock, the extremely flammable and explosive stuff that was replaced by safety film in the early fifties.

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