Of Scrap & Steel: free rooftop screening of rare 1949 color film set on Main Street, Downtown L.A.

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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 is in conjunction with 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, chips and beverage. 100% of proceeds from your meal donation goes to the URM, and the proceeds from each dinner will feed two other people.

This screening is held in conjunction with the Skid Row Walking Tour, a separate free event beginning two hours before the screening. Separate registration for each event is required if you wish to attend both the screening and walking tour.

Nearest Metro station is Little Tokyo.

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 the SW corner of 2nd & San Pedro (MAP). A free shuttle will run between Joe’s parking lot and the Union Rescue Mission before and after the event. 


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

7pm-8pm Box dinners available for purchase, guests can watch the sunset (7:45pm)


  • 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.

8:30pm Film screening

9pm Q & A

9:30pm Event ends