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<v Announcer>Major funding for the Los Angeles History Project was provided by the Durfee Foundation, <v Announcer>which is pleased to be supporting excellence in television programing on KCET. <v Announcer>Additional funding provided by the California Community Foundation dedicated to improving <v Announcer>the quality of life in Southern California since 1915 <v Announcer>and by the Fletcher Jones Foundation. <v Host>As Los Angeles hurtles into the future, we imagine its past <v Host>to have been free of big city heartbreak and crime. <v Host>Far from it. <v Host>50 years ago, a mystery writer, Raymond Chandler, portrayed a city with <v Host>more than its share of misery and murder. <v Host>The streets of Los Angeles, he wrote, were mean streets. <v Host>Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying,
<v Host>being maimed, cut by flying glass. <v Host>People were hungry, sick, bored, desperate, with <v Host>loneliness or remorse or fear. <v Host>Angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. <v Host>A city no worse than others. <v Host>A city rich and vigorous and full of pride. <v Host>A city lost and beat and full of emptiness. <v Host>Writing in the 30s and 40s, Raymond Chandler created a vision <v Host>of Los Angeles as a promised city stained by crime <v Host>and corruption. <v Host>And the crooks weren't just in the streets, they had the police department on the take. <v Host>They called the shots in city hall.
<v Host>Attorney Grant Cooper was there. <v Grant Cooper>Raymond Chandler was right. <v Grant Cooper>The city of Los Angeles was <v Grant Cooper>at that time, was as corrupt as any <v Grant Cooper>city in the United States, and that includes Chicago. <v Host>Heaven on earth, soft ocean breezes.
<v Host>An uncomplicated corner of paradise. <v Host>In 1930, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the nation's first, <v Host>proclaimed the city's delights. <v Host>The air of prosperity is deceptive for the stock market had crashed <v Host>and the city was hard hit. <v Host>Even the booming oil business was affected, though for a time there was <v Host>money to be made here in Long Beach. <v Host>The staff of the Dabney Oil Syndicate. <v Host>In the back row, far left, an urbane English educated executive in his <v Host>early 40s. <v Host>Though an excellent administrator, he was a hard drinker. <v Host>Raymond Chandler. <v Host>He wrote, it was a good job, so good I couldn't hold
<v Host>it. They tossed me out during the Depression. <v Host>In the city directory, Chandler and his wife listed a new address in Hollywood. <v Host>Jobless and at loose ends. <v Host>He listed what he hoped would be a new occupation. <v Host>Writer. He <v Host>weathered the worst of the depression at the El Pueblo apartments. <v Host>He later wrote, I went 5 days without anything to eat but soup <v Host>once. It didn't kill me, but neither did it increase my love of <v Host>humanity. <v Host>Chandler distracted himself reading Hard-Boiled detective magazines. <v Host>He found them forceful and honest. <v Host>And he decided to try his own hand at evoking what he called the smell <v Host>of fear.
<v Host>For inspiration, he only needed to walk out the door. <v Host>To Chandler, Los Angeles in the '30s was society gone wrong. <v Host>In his words, the city was a paradise of fakers. <v Host>Behind its placid facade, he saw the place to be populated by <v Host>dope fiends, smut peddlers, schemers in low places <v Host>and high, crooked cops, and crooked politicians. <v Host>Though the sun might shine and the warm breezes blow, Los <v Host>Angeles was haunted by corruption and not infrequently death. <v Non-Dialog Audio>[Radio transmissions]
<v Host>Death be it accidental or by design. <v Host>To Chandler, it was The Big Sleep. <v Host>In his first full length novel, Chandler introduced the detective hero intent <v Host>on doing battle with the vices of Los Angeles. <v Detective Actor>[Start clip from "The Big Sleep"] All right, boys, I'm just proving something. <v Host>In the film version, he's played by Humphrey Bogart, who Chandler felt was <v Host>the genuine article. <v Detective Actor>Pardon me? <v Unnamed actor>Who is he? <v Unnamed actor 2>Philip Marlowe over at Arms, Franklin Street. <v Unnamed actor 2>Special license, deputy Birgeneau. <v Host>Marlowe could take it and he could dish it out. <v Detective Actor>Maybe you need this. <v Unnamed actress>I don't like your manners. <v Detective Actor>I don't mind if you don't like my manners. I don't like them myself. They're pretty bad. <v Detective Actor>I grieve over them long winter evenings. <v Unnamed actress>People don't talk to me like that. <v Detective Actor>Oh. <v Unnamed actor 3>Say mister, would you please?
<v Host>But why Philip Marlowe? <v Host>Wasn't it the role of the police to chase criminals and solve crimes? <v Host>Where were they? <v Unnamed actor 3>This is just our way of saying lay off. <v Host>Chandler wrote the law is where you buy it in this town. <v Host>[End clip of "The Big Sleep"] This <v Host>old Los Angeles stationhouse was witness to the state of affairs in the police <v Host>department in the depths of the Depression. <v Host>Money was scarce. Morales got pushed. <v Host>For a 50 dollar bribe, you could buy a job as a sergeant. <v Host>You could be a detective for 125. <v Host>A captain for 250. <v Host>The force was under the command of Chief James Davis. <v Host>Two Gun Davis.
<v Host>In some respects, his men were good, reasonably honest cops. <v Host>They effectively tracked down major criminals. <v Host>Vice was another matter. <v Host>Quite a show was made of raiding brothels and collaring bookies, roundups <v Host>made the newsreels. <v Man on newsreel>George Howe ?inaudible? <v Host>Yet they were soon back on the street. <v Host>Even in the shadow of city hall, vice flourished. <v Host>Ace crime reporter for the City News Service, Jake Jacoby worked the <v Host>downtown beat. <v Jake Jacoby>There was about 50 bordellos. Probably more. <v Jake Jacoby>I wasn't too familiar with them because I didn't inhabit them. <v Jake Jacoby>But, you know, as a newsman, you'd get word there's one here, there's one there.
<v Jake Jacoby>How come they don't take take action? <v Jake Jacoby>This kind of thing? <v Police Chief James Davis>I have issued orders to all members of the police department of this city to bring in <v Police Chief James Davis>every reckless driver, drunken driver. <v Host>Police Chief Davis. <v Host>He took a hard line on traffic violations, but he looked the other way <v Host>when it came to the payoffs made to the police by madams and hundreds <v Host>of bookies. <v Jake Jacoby>I would say they were on the take a bit. <v Jake Jacoby>And there was a bookmaking establishment, a large one. <v Jake Jacoby>Right kitty corner from the Hall of Justice. <v Jake Jacoby>Most of the complaints came from distraught housewives, wives <v Jake Jacoby>of officials and sheriffs and policemen <v Jake Jacoby>who were spending their money at the bookies' joints. <v Host>There were more serious complaints. <v Host>Raymond Chandler, for one, took a dim view of the proliferation of <v Host>guns toted by L.A.'s low life. <v Host>As recorded in a '30s newsreel.
<v Host>All manner of firearms were openly for sale. <v Customer on newsreel>Any strings attached to this? <v Cashier on newsreel>No. <v Cashier on newsreel>It's 38 dollars and no questions asked. <v Customer on newsreel>Well, good. I'll take it. <v Host>Finally pressured to quell the latest gun craze, Chief Davis seized <v Host>an opportunity to improve his image. <v Host>He confiscated hardware by the boatload. <v Host>If there was a symbol of wide open L.A. <v Host>in the '30s, it was the score of gambling ships anchored off Long <v Host>Beach and Santa Monica. <v Host>The Rex was the most famous.
<v Host>Water taxis took customers on a fast ride just beyond the 3 mile limit, <v Host>beyond the reach of the law. <v Host>After an occasional pat down to make sure they weren't packing heat, <v Host>they were free to give Dame Fortune a whirl. <v Host>There was Roullete, Tango, Craps, Pharaoh, and Blackjack. <v Host>3,000 people could gamble at a time. <v Host>The action continued around the clock. <v Unnamed gambler in newsreel>Give me 500 dollars on the next please. <v Unnamed dealer in newsreel>All right. <v Host>Former rum runner Tony carnero was the unofficial <v Host>admiral of the gambling fleet. <v Host>He was not a man to be crossed. <v Host>Yet he confessed a soft spot for his customers. <v Host>Tony didn't care for the word sucker. <v Host>He preferred to call his clientele squirrels.
<v Host>Drab but cheerful little creatures looking for a little entertainment, <v Host>a little excitement, a little wickedness. <v Newsreel>[Gamblers chattering and cheering] <v Host>And Tony's squirrels, the gambling ship <v Host>Rex, and the admiral himself. <v Host>Tough, cocky and not without charm. <v Host>In fictionalized form, they achieved immortality in the final chapters <v Host>of Farewell, My Lovely. <v Host>Perhaps Raymond Chandler's finest novel. <v Host>In the first of many film versions, Dick Powell played Detective Philip Marlowe. <v Detective Actor 2>[Start clip of "Murder, My Sweet"] I didn't see anything, I felt it. <v Detective Actor 2>I was toad on a wet rock, and a snake was looking at the back of my neck. <v Host>He's brave, moral, incorruptible.
<v Host>He never quits. <v Host>Trouble is his business. <v Detective Actor 2>I caught the Black Jack right behind my ear, a black pool opened up at my feet. <v Detective Actor 2>I dived in. It had no bottom. <v Host>Marlowe's nightmare. <v Host>Pursued by an evil force, he's caught in a maze of crime <v Host>and deceit. <v Host>A mirror of Chandler's perception of Los Angeles. <v Host>[End clip of "Murder, My Sweet"] Regrettably, there was no listing for Philip Marlowe <v Host>among L.A.'s Real life gumshoes. <v Host>In Raymond Chandler's words, the typical L.A. <v Host>detective was a sleazy little drudge, a strongarm guy <v Host>with no more personality than a blackjack.
<v Host>There was an exception. <v Host>Private investigator Harry Raymond. <v Host>Newspaperman Jake Jacoby recalls,. <v Jake Jacoby>Harry Raymond was very resourceful and I would say an excellent investigator <v Jake Jacoby>and a good cop. He was a very flamboyant character. <v Jake Jacoby>He certainly wasn't a shrinking violet. <v Jake Jacoby>By the way, that was an expression from the old days. <v Jake Jacoby>You don't hear it anymore. <v Jake Jacoby>But that means, in effect, that he wasn't too much withdrawn. <v Jake Jacoby>While his investigation techniques were not only thorough but somewhat <v Jake Jacoby>abrupt, I don't know if he'd fit it in modern society. <v Jake Jacoby>But hew was sure right for his time. He didn't like crooks. <v Host>In late 1937, Harry Raymond was about to get involved <v Host>in the case of his career. <v Host>He got a new client. Clifford Clinton, the owner of an exotically <v Host>decorated downtown cafeteria.
<v Host>Clinton was good-hearted, so good-hearted that he let his customers pay <v Host>what they could. Or not at all. <v Host>Clifford Clinton was also an active reformer. <v Host>He didn't have to go far from his cafeteria to see that Los Angeles could use his help. <v Host>But he needed facts. Hard evidence of the city's corruption. <v Host>He needed Harry Raymond. <v Host>Back when he was a teenager, Clifford Clinton's son, Ed, helped out. <v Ed Clinton>Harry Raymond was asked by dad to investigate many of these things and check them out, <v Ed Clinton>check out the sources, because here we were every night going on the radio. <v Ed Clinton>We would come on the air at 7 o'clock. <v Ed Clinton>I believe it was. And I would say, this is the people's <v Ed Clinton>voice. The cause is right, I know. <v Ed Clinton>And then I would begin to say now, father, we have a question here from a listener, <v Ed Clinton>how do you know that such and such was going on?
<v Clifford Clinton on radio transmission>Who wants to stand firm in the cause against years and years of the avalanche of abuse, <v Clifford Clinton on radio transmission>ridicule, defamation and physical harm that ensues from evil forces? <v Ed Clinton>And he mentioned names and he mentioned addresses and he mentioned incidents. <v Clifford Clinton on radio transmission>I can only say at this time- <v Ed Clinton>As a result of checking out of facts that Harry Raymond and others did, he was in a <v Ed Clinton>position to give highly specific information no matter how high corruption <v Ed Clinton>led. <v Clifford Clinton on radio transmission>We can stay united behind that cause, which is simply honest, efficient government. <v Clifford Clinton on radio transmission>We can't lose. <v Host>This wasn't exactly what certain highly placed people wanted to hear. <v Host>And now our story becomes as complex as seemy as <v Host>intense as a Raymond Chandler thriller. <v Host>The newly reelected mayor of Los Angeles, Frank L. <v Host>Shaw. <v Frank Shaw on newsreel>Fellow citizens, the confidence expressed in my public <v Frank Shaw on newsreel>service by the people at the polls, it was extremely
<v Frank Shaw on newsreel>gratifying. <v Grant Cooper>To my mind, at least in my opinion, he was a pompous ass. <v Host>A man who knew city hall all too well, reform attorney <v Host>Grant Cooper. <v Grant Cooper>One could say that. <v Grant Cooper>Frank Shaw, the mayor, was the figurehead. <v Grant Cooper>And his brother, Joe did all the <v Grant Cooper>dirty work behind the scenes. <v Grant Cooper>At least that's the way it appeared to me. <v Host>Joe Shaw was his brother's trusted executive secretary and the man <v Host>who doled out the city contracts, the jobs, the favors. <v Grant Cooper>In the city hall in Los Angeles. <v Grant Cooper>You could buy a job. <v Grant Cooper>Bribes were every day affairs. <v Grant Cooper>It was a, it was a different city then than it is today.
<v Host>In late 1937, aware that Detective Harry Raymond was sniffing <v Host>around City Hall, Joe Shaw got nervous. <v Host>He was in touch with less than perfect police chief James Davis. <v Host>In turn, Davis had under his command the final player in our real life <v Host>drama. Earl Kynette of the shadowy head of the L.A. <v Host>Police Intelligence Unit. <v Host>On behalf of the Shaw administration, Kynette took it upon himself to cool <v Host>down Clifford Clinton and his overly inquisitive detective, Harry <v Host>Raymond, even if it meant playing rough. <v Host>October 27th, 1937. <v Host>The Clinton children were tucked in for the night. <v Ed Clinton>And at 12:00 midnight we heard a tremendous crash. <v Ed Clinton>So we all 3 ran downstairs and we saw coming up in the basement. <v Ed Clinton>All this black smoke.
<v Ed Clinton>So we ran to the corner, as kids always have wanted to do, to the firebox on the corner, <v Ed Clinton>broke the glass, and pulled the switch. <v Ed Clinton>And before you know it, the firemen were there. But we we saw that the whole basement <v Ed Clinton>and part of the kitchen, part of the main floor were destroyed. <v Ed Clinton>And they found that there had been a bomb planted in the basement of the house. <v Ed Clinton>Well, just a few minutes after the bombing occurred, dad received a phone call <v Ed Clinton>and the person on the other end of the phone said, well, how did you like <v Ed Clinton>the little puff puff you just had? <v Ed Clinton>If you think that was something, just keep your nose in this business where you don't <v Ed Clinton>have any place and see what happens next. <v Host>A quiet neighborhood in Boyle Heights, the home of Detective Harry Raymond. <v Host>As his investigations for reformer Clifford Clinton continued. <v Host>He was put under surveillance by the Los Angeles Police Intelligence Unit. <v Host>Across the street and up an alley, they rented a spy house.
<v Host>Looking out this very window, Earl Kynette, the head of the unit, could <v Host>keep tabs on Raymond. <v Host>And with a phone tap listen in on his calls probing City Hall. <v Host>January 14th, 1938. Harry <v Host>Raymond's wife was fresh out of eggs. <v Host>Shaved and dressed for the day, Harry volunteered to run by the market. <v Host>He grabbed the keys and headed for the car. <v Host>Got in, stepped on the starter. <v Host>The explosion was heard for miles around. <v Host>For blocks in all directions, windows were smashed. <v Host>Authorities raced to the scene, as did reformer Clifford Clinton. <v Host>Harry Reymond proved as tough as fictional Philip Marlowe. <v Host>A mass of broken bones and more than 100 bloody wounds, he was heard
<v Host>to mumble, this is a rotten way to try and get a man. <v Host>For weeks, doctors dug shrapnel out of him and still didn't <v Host>get all of it. <v Host>Harry couldn't believe what had happened to him. <v Host>And at first was mum as to who he thought tried to kill him. <v Host>But then one of his doctors received a threatening phone call. <v Host>That did it. <v Host>Kynette, Earl Kynette, he blurted. And with those words, <v Host>he blew the lid off Los Angeles. <v Host>The trial was sensational. <v Host>Taken to the Hall of Justice in the wheelchair, Harry Raymond was cheered <v Host>on by crowds shouting, stay in there, Harry, <v Host>tell them all of it, Harry.
<v Host>Good luck, Harry. <v Host>The courtroom is abandoned now. <v Host>But in 1938, it was packed and hushed as Harry Raymond <v Host>testified about city hall payoffs, bribes, bagmen <v Host>and a near fatal attempt to cool him off. <v Host>It didn't look good for Earl Kynette.In desperation, he <v Host>attempted to impress the jury by improving his appearance with glasses <v Host>and a mustache. <v Host>It didn't work. <v Host>The evidence mounted, he was even identified as the buyer of the bomb's <v Host>detonating wire. <v Host>In the final days of the trial Police Chief James Davis took the stand, <v Host>couldn't get his story straight, and dug Kynette in even further. <v Judge on radio transmisison>People against Earl E. Kynette and others are the defendants ready for sentence at this
<v Judge on radio transmisison>time? <v Defendants on radio transmission>The defendants are ready, your honor. <v Host>The verdict went out over the airwaves. <v Judge on radio transmisison>Would the defendants arise please? <v Judge on radio transmisison>You Earl E. Kynette have been duly found guilty by a jury in this court of the crime of <v Judge on radio transmisison>attempted murder. It is therefore ordered a judge then decreed that you'll be punished by <v Judge on radio transmisison>imprisonment in the state prison at San Quentin. <v Host>He got 10 years to life. <v Host>And the trial exposed a city hall rife with corruption. <v Host>Reformers in newspapers clamored for a special election to recall the Mayor <v Host>Shaw administration. <v Grant Cooper>It had become too blatant, and <v Grant Cooper>newspapers don't like the reputation of the City of <v Grant Cooper>Angels to be dragged in the dirt in the mire. <v Grant Cooper>So Fletcher Bowron was elected on the recall, <v Grant Cooper>and from that the wall came tumbling down gradually. <v Host>Grant Cooper now and then as
<v Host>campaign manager for L.A.'s reform mayor Fletcher Bowron. <v Grant Cooper>He threw the rascals out. <v Grant Cooper>Because by God, he threw them out like a bouncer <v Grant Cooper>does, you see them in the movies. <v Host>Bowron's takeover was truly remarkable. <v Host>For the first time in American history, the mayor of a major city <v Host>and all his cronies were run out of office. <v Host>3 <v Host>miles off the Santa Monica Pier, the curtain rang down in <v Host>L.A.'s his brush with iniquity in the '30s. <v Host>In a decade, The Rex and other gambling ships had cashed <v Host>in on over 12 million visitors. <v Host>But now the time had come for Admiral of the Fleet, Tony carnero,
<v Host>to pack it in. <v Host>These visitors were from the state attorney general's office, and they, too, <v Host>couldn't wait to get to the slot machines and the gaming tables. <v Host>As 1938 drew to a close, it was all over for <v Host>a thousand brothels, bookie joints, and gambling debts. <v Host>There had been trouble enough in Angel City. <v Host>Which all goes to show that when writer, Raymond Chandler, pitted his detective <v Host>hero against the corrupt and criminal world, he didn't have <v Host>to dream it up.
<v Announcer>Major funding for the Los Angeles History Project was provided by the Durfee Foundation, <v Announcer>which is pleased to be supporting excellence in television programing on Kasit. <v Announcer>Additional funding provided by the California Community Foundation dedicated to improving <v Announcer>the quality of life in Southern California since 1915 <v Announcer>and by the Fletcher Jones Foundation. <v Announcer>For information on purchasing a copy of this program for educational purposes, write <v Announcer>to KCET Video 4401, Sunset Boulevard, <v Announcer>Los Angeles, California. <v Announcer>90027. Or call <v Announcer>213-668-9541. This offer is made by KCET Los Angeles. <v Announcer>If you do not receive KCET magazine and wish to get a free 8 page viewer's <v Announcer>guide to the Los Angeles History Project, write L.A.H.P. <v Announcer>in care of KCET 4401 Sunset Boulevard, Los
The Los Angeles History Project: Trouble in Angel City
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KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Wilkman Production
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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"TROUBLE IN ANGEL CITY is one episode of our major, multi-year series, THE LOS ANGELES HISTORY PROJECT which celebrates the rich, colorful and often overlooked history of the Los Angeles region. "TROUBLE IN ANGEL CITY, narrated by actor Richard Widmark, looks at the dark side of Los Angeles in the 1930's'the era which provided the basis for Raymond Chandler's famous detective novels. The episode is filled with true examples of scandal and violence and shows how committed individuals and grass-roots groups helped Los Angeles mature, reform and take control of its own fate. "Major funding for TROUBLE IN ANGEL CITY and THE LOS ANGELES HISTORY PROJECT has been provided by the Durfee Foundation; the California Community Foundation, the Fletcher Jones Foundation and by KCET subscribers. "(see attached)"--1988 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: KCET (Television station : Los Angeles, Calif.)
Producing Organization: Wilkman Production
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Duration: 0:30:00
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Chicago: “The Los Angeles History Project: Trouble in Angel City,” 1988, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “The Los Angeles History Project: Trouble in Angel City.” 1988. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: The Los Angeles History Project: Trouble in Angel City. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from