18th & Grand is a documentary feature film centered around the spectacular and seedy Olympic Auditorium, a cavernous cathedral of violence located on the south end of downtown Los Angeles.
Built in 1925 as L.A.’s answer to Madison Square Garden, for eighty years the Olympic was the most viscerally entertaining show in town. Known as the greatest boxing and wrestling venue in the west and go-to location for Hollywood—the smoky, beer-spilled 10,000 seat punch-palace was film noir come to life.
Financed by the most wealthy and powerful men in the city, it took a woman to make it thrive. Filmmaker Stephen DeBro uses the story of Aileen Eaton, a.k.a. the Dragon Lady, as the backbone of the documentary. Eaton was a brilliant woman who dominated a man’s world for forty years, using her fiefdom at the Olympic to gain influence among the city’s political and entertainment establishment. Along the way, we meet gangsters (Mickey Cohen), oligarchs (Edward Doheny), giants (Andre the Giant) and even the Greatest of All Time (Muhammad Ali), all of whom were deeply connected to the Olympic. The great forces driving the birth of America’s most dynamic 20th Century city—oil, movies, violence, and crime—were intertwined in the history of the building, and the film places the Olympic in that context.
18th & Grand uses interviews with fighters, musicians, insiders and fans, historic footage, period music, and dramatic photography to capture the intensity and atmosphere of the Olympic. The interview subjects were carefully chosen to serve the narrative and accurately represent the diverse cast of characters who made the Olympic so dynamic.
18th & Grand, part of The Olympic Auditorium Project, is in production and nearing completion, expected 2019.