Danny DeVito’s opening narration of the marvellous movie L.A. Confidential describes a Los Angeles where “the sun shines bright, the beaches are wide and inviting, and the orange groves stretch as far as the eye can see.” But a few seconds later, DeVito’s character, tabloid crime reporter Sid Hudgens rips away the façade and quips, “That’s what they tell ya, anyway. Because they’re selling an image.”
These words taken from the Oscar-nominated movie about corrupt cops in 1950s Hollywood highlight the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles that is explored in sometimes graphic and gory detail in a startling new book. The glamorous City of Angels is renamed Dark City by author Jim Heimann for his unflinching and macabre photography book that peels back the shiny veneer of Hollywood to reveal the sordid and often violent crime that riddled the city from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Heimann has collected black and white images from archives, museums, newspaper photo morgues, private collections, and his own library to create a visual history of LA that lifts up the red carpets and goes beyond the velvet ropes to visit crime scenes, notorious nightclubs and dark alleys. Alongside the photographs are pages from rare vintage crime tabloid magazines that record the exploits of LA’s cast of criminals and hold a magnifying glass over the real noir of the city.
We’ll leave the last word to DeVito’s magazine hack Hudgens who warns in his narration of L.A. Confidential’s opening scene, “But there’s trouble in paradise…”
From the headline crime of the Black Dahlia to the petty corruption of mayors and cops, discover the flip side of the Southland that inspired the movies and novels which came to be known as “Noir” in this edition, complete with bound-in facsimile magazine clippings.