Sunday, March 14, 2010

Speedway—Venice, CA

Image:: Speedway nr. Dudley Ct., Venice, CA 28 July 2005, Kenneth M. Kambara

One of my favourite noir movies is Orson Welles' Touch of Evil {1958}, with Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye {1950} a close second. Touch of Evil masterfully uses setting seamlessly with the storytelling. The gritty border town, which was supposed to be in Texas, reminded me of a road trip through Imperial and San Diego Counties in California, which involved Calexico. The gritty setting and grittier characters juxtaposed an idealized postwar America with its seedier undercurrents, in the deft hands of Welles. While there was realism in American cinema in the 1950s, e. g., Elia Kazan's œuvre, noir {typically B-movies} drew from the same spirit of filmmaking as the French new wave, an indie sensibility free of big-budget Hollywood constraints. Touch of Evil starred Charlton Heston as a Mexican-American sheriff, Janet Leigh as his wife, Orson Welles as a corrupt police chief, and Marlene Dietrich with a supporting role cameo.

About a decade ago, I found out that Touch of Evil was shot in Venice, California. This page has some relatively recent photos of the buildings in the opening scene::

I recall that one of the scenes in the movie was shot on a street called Speedway. My mom grew up in the Ocean Park area of Santa Monica in the 1930s and recalled that cars would roar down Speedway, which is an alleyway by today's standards.

Twitterversion:: Speedway in Venice, CA, 28 July 2005 & thoughts of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" {1958} @Prof_K

Song:: Louis Armstrong-"Someday You'll Be Sorry"

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