To help cover her expenses Mama has taken in a boarder, an urbane gentleman, Mr. Hyde (the great character actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke). He would enthrall the whole family for hours at a time by reading from his collection of books in a measured, mellifluous voice. Katrin in particular was swept up by the classic tales and credited these magical evenings with her desire to become a writer.
Then ... Katrin and her sister Christine (Peggy McIntyre) go to the local drug store to meet their brother Nels (Steve Brown) but as they arrive, far right below, he sees Mr. Hyde climb onto the front end of their cable car, at far left, laden with suitcases. This scene was shot on RKO studio's back lot .
Then ... They watch as the cable car carries him off down the street. Katrin is worried for Mama - "I just hope he's paid whatever he owes her".
... and Now, this is Hyde Street looking north from Lombard (map). Turn to the right from here and you'd be looking down Lombard's famous crooked street but as the movie setting is 1910 and the block's switchbacks weren't built until 1922 the director wisely chose not to show them. The buildings on the left are still there, hidden by the trees, but an incongruous apartment building has since appeared down the block.
They rush home to find that Mr. Hyde has left a note apologizing for the sudden departure but leaving them his book collection and a check for four months rent. Relief and delight!
Then ... The camera cuts to Aunt Jenny laboring up a steep hill towards Mama's house.
... and Now, the houses across the street are 2502 and 2500 Leavenworth Street on the corner of Francisco in Russian Hill, not far from the bottom of the crooked street (map).
Then ... Francisco tees off to the left as she continues huffing and puffing up Leavenworth. This time though, a faux pas - the tower behind the houses belongs to the San Francisco Art Institute at 800 Chestnut Street; it wasn't built until 1926 whereas the movie is set in 1910.
... and Now, this corner has changed very little but for the yellow house, rebuilt with an added story. From this viewpoint it hides the Art Institute tower...
... but take a few steps down Francisco and you can see it's still there.
Aunt Jenny arrives at Mama's with bad news ... Mr. Hyde had written another check and it turns out he doesn't even have a bank account. "Marta, I bet he owed you plenty, didn't he?" Papa is stunned but Mama is stoic, "He owed us nothing," she said, "He pay with far, far better things than money."