“Vintage L.A.” Noir! Celebrate LA’s Heritage, Amazing Website And Classic ’70’s Noir!

The Sign Says It All!

vintage LA

Welcome to LA!

Yes, time to visit the city of angels – well, the 70’s version at least! It was a time of innocence, at least when it came to traffic:

downtown LA Hollywood Freeway

I wanted to share a couple of things: first, two classic film noir thrillers based in Los Angeles, both from the 70’s – AND I want to share a terrific website from a friend who is keeping LA’s history alive!

Vintage Los Angeles

First, kudos to Artist Mark London for his terrific logo, and kudos to Alison Martino for the website. More on the GREAT “Vintage Los Angeles” in a moment…


But first, let’s look at two movies that are based in Los Angeles – and seeped with LA attitude…

Behold The Face Of “L.A. Noir”…

It’s a classic image from one of the greatest films ever made…

Los Angeles has contributed so much to culture: everything from The Beach Boys to The Sunset Strip, and two “film noir” classics…

Don’t You LOVE The Definition of Film Noir?

If you are not a fan of the genre, you are missing out on some of the most stylish – and darkest – films ever made in Hollywood. “Film noir” is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that:

“emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.”

Yep – Cynical Attitudes and Sexual Motivations!

film noir

Well, that’s just about everything I love! I’ve posted before about film noir – which is a terrific, moody style of film making, with classic films in the genre like “Double Indemnity” and “The Postman Always Rings Twice”…so you tend to think of film noir in black and white:

best film noir

But this time I want to share two more recent examples of the genre: it’s more like “LA Noir!”


“LA Noir!”

Vintage Los Angeles plays a major role in both of these films – let’s start first with a neglected modern classic of the genre!


Here’s a line that oozes “noir”…
“You wanna know somethin’, punk? You were born dumb and you’re gonna die dumb.”

classic cult films

The Late Show

The Late Show!

Director Robert Benton created one of his best films, a movie that captured the seediness and smokiness of LA in the 70’s – with a terrific cast including Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy and Joanna Cassidy. Benton would go on to win an Oscar for “Kramer Vs. Kramer”, but this late 70’s film noir look at LA is a neglected gem.

Here is the trailer:

obscure classic films

It’s a film that is pure “LA Noir” – just listen to this dialogue:

“Back in the Forties, this town was crawlin’ with dollies like you. Good-lookin’ coquettes tryin’ their damnedest to act tough as hell. I got news for you: they did it better back then. This town doesn’t change – they just push the names around. Same dames… screwin’ up their lives just the same way.”

That’s Art Carney speaking: a broken down gumshoe struggling to make rent, who has seen it all. He gets a new client, Lily Tomlin, who needs help finding her cat.

“Boy, it’s really lucky for you that I just happen to be a very self-destructive person.”

Tomlin has never been better as a woman full of self-doubt, paranoia and big big dreams! What happens next is one of the best tales of Hollywood noir ever, with terrific acting and a ton of recognizable faces in small roles.

best Lily Tomlin movie

If you only know Art Carney from The Honeymooners, his performance here is amazing, and Lily Tomlin is also outstanding – her best film work ever…

classic Lily Tomlin performance

“The Late Show” is poignant, touching, full of action and twists, and oozing with the smell of Hollywood glitter and grime. Director Robert Benton was oscar-nominated for his script…


Carney Kicks Ass!

The best part of the film is Carney as a washed up private eye – trolling the dirty streets of Hollywood as life passes by , but who gets a chance to show that he’s a tougher guy than he looks…

greatest film noir

There are SO many great supporting characters in this film, but none more memorable than Bill Macy, a veteran character actor from TV’s “Maude”, who is pitch perfect as a small time Hollywood hustler…

legendary actor bill macy

Macy captures perfectly the kind of small time hustler who Carney has to deal with as he tries to find Tomlin’s cat…the plot, however, is much much more than that, and a truly great gem of a movie…


“The Late Show” is now on DVD, and you can also find it on various ondemand services…and now, onto a vintage “LA Noir” that sits on every list as one of the greatest films ever made…

“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”



One of the most penetrating looks at LA politics in the 40’s, it’s a classic film about vintage Los Angeles. First, take a look at the trailer for this brilliant film…

chinatown_1974 LA noir

Simply put, “Chinatown” is one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Roman Polanski, with a brilliant screenplay by Robert Towne, it stars Jack Nicholson as LA Private Detective Jake Gittes, Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray, and legendary Director John Huston as LA Businessman Noah Cross…

Noah Cross: “You’ve got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gittes. I like that.”

‘Jake’ Gittes is a private detective who seems to specialize in matrimonial cases. He is hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects her husband Hollis, builder of the city’s water supply system, of having an affair.

You don’t need to know anything else – Towne’s masterful screenplay is a virtual “LA noir” history of the city’s water system, the corrupting influence of politics and greed, and a brilliant meditation on evil…

Noah Cross: “Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water.”


Some of the film’s best dialogue and most dramatic moments occur near the end of the movie, when Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway really get into it:

Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my daughter.
[Gittes slaps Evelyn]
Jake Gittes: I said I want the truth!
Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my sister…
Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my daughter…
Evelyn Mulwray: My sister, my daughter.
[More slaps]
Jake Gittes: I said I want the truth!
Evelyn Mulwray: She’s my sister AND my daughter!

This movie is perfect: the writing, directing, and acting are all flawless…and it ends with one of the most iconic movie lines of all time:

“Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.”

Both films showcase a city that is full of life, possibilities, and greed…but hey, like I said, “welcome to LA!” Have a drink here:

Filthy McNasty's

That’s right, LA has a bar called “Filthy McNasty’s!”

OK, maybe not any more, but don’t you want to go back and see some of:

“Vintage Los Angeles!”

Vintage Los Angeles

Well, thanks to my friend Alison Martino, you can! Alison has created a terrific website that celebrates vintage Los Angles, with stories and pictures of a bygone era…and for anyone who has visited in the last twenty years, don’t you yearn for these simpler times?

downtown LA Hollywood Freeway

Alison is dedicated to keeping classic stories – and locations – from LA’s past alive! Check out her website, like her Facebook page, and read her blog:




Kudos to Alison Martino for believing in the magic of LA’s past! Click on the sites and support the effort!

vintage LA

Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Awards, Books / Media, Film Noir, Golden Globes, Great Films, Independent Cinema, Movies, Movies About Movies, Obscure Movies, Politics, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized

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8 replies

  1. I thought only I saw “The Late Show!” Haven’t seen it for years. Great job putting this out there, Boss.


  2. Terrific, John. I’m vintage myself. Saw both these movies during the original releases in a theater. Clearly didn’t appreciate them the way they deserve. Going to watch both again soon. Thanks. And thanks to Alison for her dedication to preserving Vintage Los Angeles. There’s no city like it. Or its traffic.


    • Yes, Alison is doing all she can to keep LA’s rich history alive! Thanks for the comment, “The Late Show” in particular is a neglected gem…oh, the Director’s next movie was “Kramer Vs. Kramer!”



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