Of Scrap & Steel: 1949 color film on Main Street


LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association is pleased to announce a free roof-top screening of a newly-discovered circa 1949 short color film of Main Street and other downtown Los Angeles locations, the Union Rescue Mission-produced Of Scrap & Steel. The screening celebrates the launch of a new series of downtown stories on the In SRO Land time travel blog, featuring material from the Union Rescue Mission Archives.

ABOUT THE FILM: In mid-1948 the Board of Directors of the Union Rescue Mission approved the expenditure of $5,000 to make the 30-minute film Of Scrap & Steel which portrays the redemption and good works of Arthur Hawkins, an alcoholic executive who ended up on the streets of Los Angeles and whose life was saved when he turned to the URM for help. Porter Hall (Arthur Hawkins) is one of only two actors in a film otherwise populated by real Los Angeles characters. (You may recall Hall’s performance as the pesky guy on the train in Double Indemnity.)

Of Scrap & Steel  was only shown in screenings organized by the URM or related organizations, and would have been completely lost if Liz Mooradian, URM historian, had not saved a deteriorating 16mm print and had it transferred to video before it was too late. Of Scrap & Steel is just one of the remarkable artifacts discovered in the Union Rescue Mission archives and explored in the In SRO Land blog.

This entertaining and powerful short film is a compelling snapshot of life on Skid Row (Main Street) circa 1949, and a fascinating document of the important work that the URM continues to do with the most needy in the community. Although downtown Los Angeles features in numerous noir films, it is extremely rare to see color images of eastern downtown, and rarer still to see full-color live-action footage of the vibrant street scene that included rescue missions, pawn shops, amusement parlors, bars, restaurants and the ever-patrolling paddy wagon in search of drunkards to haul away to jail or County work crews.

This free rooftop screening is jointly organized by LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the In SRO Land time travel blog and the Union Rescue Mission. Seating will be provided, and attendees are encouraged to dress warmly for the cool night air.

Gourmet box dinners: “Meals with a purpose” will be available for purchase ($7, cash only), with a choice of sandwich (vegetarian, roast beef or chicken), cookie, fruit, crackers and beverage. 100% of proceeds from your meal donation goes to the URM, and the proceeds from each dinner will feed two other people.

Limited free parking is available at the URM’s underground parking lot. Just tell the attendant you are there for the film. Please carpool: if each guest arrives with one other person in their car, there should be enough parking for all. Those arriving later will have to leave their keys with the parking attendant. Should the URM lot fill up, there is also off-site, paid parking available at Joe’s Parking Lot at 1st & San Pedro. A free shuttle will run between this parking lot and the Union Rescue Mission from 5pm-9pm. Nearest Metro station: Little Tokyo.

Rain check: if it’s raining on October 20, this event will be rescheduled for October 27.


6pm Doors open (reserved guests check in at the main entrance and are sent up to the roof)

6pm-7pm Box dinners available for purchase, guests can watch the sunset (6:13pm)


  • Introduction to the URM by Rev. Andy Bales, CEO
  • Historians Nathan Marsak & Richard Schave introduce the film in the context of the neighborhood’s history, and their work on the In SRO Land time travel blog.

7:30pm Film screening

8pm Q & A

8:30pm Event ends

To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click “signup” and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.