Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Laughing Policeman - No Communication

Then ...  Jake returns home unsure whether or not he should confront his son about seeing him in the porno theater.

... and Now,  the front door today, at 156 Robinhood Drive in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood, has new glass side-panes but the peephole, now polished, has survived.

 

Then ...  He checks the son's bedroom but he's not back yet.

... and Now,  another teenager occupies the same room!

 

Then ...  He opens the door to his wife's bedroom and tells her that their son is out late but  she's more concerned about a button of his about to fall off.  This is a couple who have forgotten how to communicate.

... and Now,  mirrors cover the closet doors.

 

   The sound of a motorbike alerts Jake to the son's return but when he goes to confront him he finds his bedroom door 'keep out' closed and decides to let sleeping dogs lie.

 

The House Across The Bay - Brenda Skips Town

    Larwitt's lawyer Slant arrives in San Francisco and asks Brenda to stop by his hotel.  He delivers bad news - the money Larwitt set aside for her has run out.  No more fashionista outfits, at least until after her husband serves out his sentence.

 

Then ...  He has also discovered that she is seeing Tim Nolan and, after again professing his love for her, implies he'll tell Larwitt if she doesn't spend time with him.  When she refuses he gestures out the window towards Alcatraz and threatens to tell Larwitt that it was she who put the IRS onto him.  But she brushes him off anyway.  Belvedere Island is to the left of Alcatraz and that's the original Pier 39 in the foreground at center.

... and Now,  Slant's hotel in the movie, the Ritz Curson, was fictional - this scene was filmed on a studio soundstage using for the window view a backdrop from a photo taken at the parking circle at the base of Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill (map).  There's now a sprawling tourist replacement at Pier 39 but, as seen below, it's not visible from the same place because of encircling trees.  This view is at the one spot where en pointe visitors can just glimpse Alcatraz and Belvedere.

 

Then ...  Brenda worries that Tim will be dragged in so she leaves San Francisco hoping he'll give up on her.  But he tracks down her friend Mary, she works at a hairdresser's, and finds out that she has taken a job singing in a nightclub in Alameda.  As they talk a cable car climbs by outside the window and we see a store across the street, H. L. Ladd, and unique street-lamp globes; these three clues led CitySleuth to the location ...

    Here's an ad for H.L. Ladd from the  1927 San Francisco Blue Book and Club Directory - it was a pharmacy at 343 Powell Street and was still at that location when the movie was filmed in 1940.

... and Now,  here's today's matching photo.  343, now the boutique Cop Copine, is next to the corner boutique, Goyard.  Those same array of lamp globes still stylishly traverse the whole block in front of the hotel.  Cable cars still stop here; the line of tourists on the street island are waiting for the next one.

... a vintage photo ... an arrow has been added to this 1928 image pointing out the H.L. Ladd pharmacy.  But wait ... that's Union Square opposite, there never was any store there, so the scene at the hairdresser's must have been on a studio soundstage with the location implied using video filmed at the corner of the square (map).  Now we know.

... and Now,  the same view, taken from the top floor of Saks Fifth Avenue.  Those folks on the island will be lucky if they manage to get on the already packed cable car. (CitySleuth has heard that the cable car operators refer to this stop as 'Fantasy Island').

 

The Conversation - A Shocker

   Stunned after witnessing the deadly attack on the young wife at the Jack Tar Hotel, Caul decides to return to the Director's office to confront him.

Then ...  He crosses Grove Street outside his apartment building in Hayes Valley (described in an earlier post) to hail the 21-Hayes bus.  Movie director Coppola has described the demolition taking place across the street during the latter phase of the Western Addition clearance as a metaphor for Caul's crumbling state of mind.

and Now ...  this is the corner of Grove Street where the bus makes the turn from Laguna.  Those apartments across Laguna were replaced but Caul's building at 700 Laguna is still there having survived the clearance.  The 21-Hayes still follows the same route.

 

Then ...  He's told the Director is not in but barges past the guard anyway.

and Now ...  the same staircase today, at the west end of the lobby level of One Embarcadero Center in the Financial District.  If this looks familiar it's because we first saw it in an earlier scene.

 

Then ...  The guards make it very clear he's not welcome.

and Now ...  it's more eclectically colorful than it was!  CitySleuth prefers the original austere look and suspects the building's creators would agree.

 

Then ...  Caul takes the hint and exits the One Embarcadero building via a walk-through tunnel - the end of it is visible at far right.

and Now ...  this was the exit to Clay Street on the north side of the building (map) - it's now closed off and there's a full-height window in its place.  The Security Pacific Bank sign partially visible on the concrete overhang, above, has been replaced with a One Embarcadero Center sign, below.  See too how those sidewalk trees opposite have grown in the last 40 years.

 

Then ...  His attention is drawn to a swanky limousine, a 1971 or 1972 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman.  This model is no ordinary limo; it has over the decades been the street transportation of choice for the famous and the infamous (John Lennon, Pol Pot), for the feted and the hated (Elizabeth Taylor, Saddam Hussein), for the simply rich and the filthy rich (Hugh Hefner, Aristotle Onassis),for believers and non-believers (The Pope, Leonid Brezhnev),  to name just a few.  (Trivia note - Francis Ford Coppola negotiated a gift of a car from Paramount Studios should 'The GodFather' take exceed $50 Million.  When it did he chose a 600 Pullman.  This one perhaps?).

and Now ...  the garage is still there and the mosaic-tiled sidewalk has held up remarkably well.

 

    He looks into the limo and is shocked to see the Director's wife!  What the ...!?  Isn't she dead?  Didn't he just see her brutally attacked at the Jack Tar?  How can this be?

 

Then ...  He walks away, flabbergasted, trying to make sense of it all.  Just beyond him is the tunnel from which he had exited moments before.

and Now ...  as mentioned earlier the exit tunnel is no longer there and the building name has been relocated around the corner of the overhang.  An additional sign has been added on the far wall and other changes have been made there to accommodate retail stores.

 

The Laughing Policeman - Porno Theatre

  Jake visits a porno theater to question the manager about his brother, an ex-San Quentin inmate, one of the bus victims.  A long shot, but Jake was hoping the connection might shed light on the massacre.

    The theatre scenes were filmed at the New Follies Theatre at 2961 16th Street in San Francisco's Mission District (map), seen here in 1968 as it must have looked when the movie was made.  (Note an earlier name, the Victoria, on the side wall).

... and Now,  The theatre is still in operation, below, but in 1979 it reverted to its earlier name, the Victoria Theatre.  The theatre first opened in 1908 as Brown's Opera House featuring G-rated vaudeville but when The Laughing Policeman was filmed it was offering R-rated burlesque entertainment.  Its longevity makes it the oldest operating theatre in the city.

 

Then ...  By way of introduction Jake flashes his SFPD badge to the sassy lady in the ticket booth.

... and Now,  from the same booth today, a daytime view across 16th Street.

 

Then ...  He heads up the stairs in the lobby but is taken aback to see his teenage son entering the theatre.

... and Now,  other than the snack counter and new paint the lobby has hardly changed.

 

Then ...  We have come to realize that Jake never cracks a smile but he's understandably less than amused to witness his son and a smattering of others enjoying an eyeful.

... and Now,  the seats have been replaced but there's still a firehose on the side wall.

 

Then ...  Backstage, the theatre manager gives Jake lip for being questioned about his murdered brother but more importantly is unable to provide useful information.  Yet another dead-end lead.

... and Now,  this is the basement dressing room area where today a concrete pillar has been added against the wall on the right to add seismic stability.

 

Then ...  On the way out the last thing he wants to do is listen to a Hare Krishna pitch.  The tiled ticket booth adds color, style and the street number, 2961, to the exterior.  This view looks west along 16th from Capp Street.

... and Now,  it's always good to see time stand still in these Then and Now comparisons.  OK, so the last digit of the street number is missing.

    A chicken and egg question ...  which came first, the floor tiles or the ticket booth?

 

The House Across The Bay - White Knuckles

    Tim persuades Brenda to go up with him for her first ever flight.  Below, they are above Treasure Island (map), newly built on silt dredged from the Bay in 1936 to host the Golden Gate International Exposition, a World's Fair celebrating, in part, the opening of the Bay Area's two great bridges.  The movie was filmed during the fair (1939 -1940) and the island is packed with Exposition buildings.  The elevated approach from Oakland to the eastern section of the Bay Bridge is visible at far right.

 Then ... Brenda is tense and white-knuckled as her relaxed guide points out the Tower of the Sun, the Exposition's 400 foot tall centerpiece.

 ... in 1939 ...   this contemporaneous image gives us a closer look at the Tower Of The Sun.   The theme of the Exposition was 'Pageant Of The Pacific' highlighting the culture and architecture of the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean.  As an example the colossal Elephant Towers flanking the approach to the Tower Of The Sun incorporated both Oriental and Mayan elements.  Check out the informative newsreel footage here and chuckle at the stridently hyperbolic commentary so popular at that time.

    This wider view shows the full expanse of the Exposition and the entire eastern section of the Bay Bridge can be seen, connecting to Yerba Buena Island on the right.

... and Now,  the same aerial view today courtesy of Google Earth.  The original cantilever bridge is partially dismantled after been replaced in September 2013 by a new causeway and single tower suspension bridge.

 

 Then ...  The sightseeing flight continues across the Bay to San Francisco.  In this shot the clock tower of the Ferry Building is dead center on the Embarcadero - beyond it is the western section of the Bay Bridge.

... and Now,  the bridge and Ferry Building remain the same but over 60 years of rampant development has transformed the Financial District.

 

 Then ...  They swing back across the Bay and Brenda is brought down to earth, so to speak, at the sight of Alcatraz below them.  She is yet to reveal her past to Tim who doesn't know she has a husband nor that he is incarcerated on The Rock. 

... and Now,  the prison block itself is unchanged (other than closing down in 1963) but a close comparison of the Then and Now images does reveal some additions and subtractions on the island.

 

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