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Hollywood Stock Footage Used in “Down to Earth” Staring Rita Hayworth

Here is a unique treat, a late night steam train ride on tracks running parallel to the North San Fernando Road, in Los Angeles County that at the time was a part of California Highway 99. It is stock Hollywood footage shot from a train car pulled by a 2-8-0 steam locomotive, and lit by movie studio klieg lights positioned on a flatcar.

The trip begins in Burbank, and heads north on Highway 99, is filled with fascinating sights, period vehicles, and ends in the Sun Valley located in the San Fernando Valley. The footage shot by Columbia was taken on the evening of April 17, 1946, and used in the film Down to Earth (1947) starring Rita Hayworth and Larry Parks.

In the footage, you will see a 1940 Ford convertible, a Citroen Traction Avant, a General Motors sedan, a Model “A” Ford and other vehicles. Be sure to check out the many neon-lit roadside establishments. The video is courtesy of Wes Clark.

21 responses to “Hollywood Stock Footage Used in “Down to Earth” Staring Rita Hayworth

  1. Great video. I always thought videos could take our carspotting to a new level. I watch the TCM channel specifically to see the old cars and trains.( and sometimes a great movie comes along). It blurs when I stop it, so gotta be quick. Looks like a motor coach @.43, gas @ .17/gallon @2:04, and my favorite, a vintage Pacific Freight Lines truck pulling a set of doubles @4:18, but I can’t tell the make of truck. I’d have to think that bright light would be a distraction. I almost thought we’d see the Fabrini brothers ( They drive by night) in their old Sterling clammering along( before the crash, that is) Thanks for video, more please.

  2. I’ve watched Highway patrol with Broderick Crawford on YouTube, and what a great show for carspotting….also there are a few street signs visible….fun to google todays street view!!

  3. Fascinating footage to watch! Like Howard, I’m a TCM channel freak too, especially for the contemporary late 40s and 50s movies with street scenes to watch the cars. This clip is interesting in that watching along the roadside, the vast expanses of empty lots not yet built on, and the little stand-alone diners & road side motels! One little diner with round, neon-lit windows almost had a “Nighthawks Cafe” feel to it!
    Not familiar with this particular movie, so unsure which car the focus was supposed to be on–the Citroen or the `40 Ford cvt. Another movie that’s fun to watch for the same reasons is “Double Indemnity” With Barbara Stanwick and Fred McMurray, shot in 1944. Besides being ‘steamy’ Stanwick drives what looks like a late 30s LaSalle sedan in a few scenes, while McMurray’s car looks like a `38 DeSoto coupe. Very ‘Ray Chandler’ like!

    • After you mentioned Double Indemnity, I had to checkout, the Internet Movie Car Data Base. The cars you mentioned were a 37 LaSalle and a 38 Dodge.

    • Hi Will, one night on TCM, I watched a ( young) Mickey Rooney film called, “Drive a crooked road”, where he works at a foreign car dealer in the late ’40’s,early ’50’s in Santa Monica. Lot of cool ’50’s sports cars. He also raced, and catches the attention of a crook, who wants to hire Rooney to drive a getaway car in a heist, down a “crooked road”. I believe the getaway car was a ’46 Packard. That was a fun one.

  4. If you’re disappointed that Rita Hayworth does not actually appear in this clip then search YouTube for “Rita Hayworth Stayin Alive”.

  5. The car that gets the most time on screen is a 1933 Buick – I think a Series 60. Towards the end the later model sedan might be a LaSalle? I presume that is a 1934 Ford that passes the ’40 Ford and the Citroen, going much faster than both of them.

  6. If anyone wants to sync this up with google street view, at 2:21 the building which is currently General Industrial Tool & Supply at 7645 San Fernando Road is visible.

  7. That’s just about the neatest thing I’ve seen in a while, I spotted a Wig wag crossing signal towards the end of the film, I think it was a “Magnetic Flagman” the passing plumes of smoke or possibly steam from the whistle blowing for all the road crossings truly amazing , thanks for sharing…

  8. I used to own a 1952 Citroen Traction Avant back in the 1990s.
    It was really nice car but I’ve read they were a failure in the US Market. I think they were mainly imported into California.
    This is the first time I’ve seen one in a 1940s American film clip or photograph.

  9. I’ve always wondered what happened to all the rear projection footage used in “in-car” scenes as well as the stock footage street scenes going back to at least the twenties. Someone should get Jay Leno on to it 🙂

  10. I’m stunned at how many visible gas pumps are left in L. A. in 1946! You’d think they would all be newer types with computing numbers display.

  11. It’s a little more difficult to name the cars that are stopped at the side of the road! Anyone up to the challenge?

  12. The interstate 5 parallels San Fernando Road nowadays which was not there in the 40’s! There might be a few buildings that still exist but that area looks nothing like it does today. However right along the San Fernando Road going through Burbank there is a pocket industrial buildings that could’ve been there back then. But the camera is looking north east and the industrial areas are south west. The speed of the train and the cars were impressive for that time. Those cars were doing probably 50 mph! I have a 1940 coupe and 50 mph is where the car and me feels most comfortable.

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