Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The House Across The Bay - Bittersweet Revenge

    Once Slant finally realizes that Brenda won't string along with him he carries out his threat and tells Larwitt that it was she who tipped off the IRS and caused his arrest.  Driven by  a fit of vengeful rage Larwitt escapes from the penitentiary and tracks her down.  Just in time, Tim Nolan intercedes and explains the real truth - Brenda has stuck by her husband all along and it was Slant's deliberately botched defense that sent him to prison.

 

    Now Larwitt directs his fury towards Slant, catching up with him at his hotel.  Slant's expression speaks volumes - he knows his number is up.  Sure enough, a couple of bullets seal his fate.

 

    Larwitt has no intention of serving out the rest of his life in prison.  He arranges to meet Brenda at Union Square then returns to the bay where the police are still out in boats searching for him following the breakout.  Purposefully, he swims towards them  - two more bullets are fired, this time sealing his fate.  Still waiting for him, Brenda hears the news from the cries of a passing street vendor.

 

Then ...  She decides to leave San Francisco and we see her taking off in an American Airlines Flagship Skysleeper DC-3.  But this isn't San Francisco, it's Grand Central Air Terminal in Glendale, one of Southern California's two busiest commercial airports at that time (Burbank being the other).

... a vintage photo ...  CitySleuth was able to identify the airport from this contemporaneous photo taken at Grand Central Air Terminal of another Flagship Skysleeper, the Flagship New York, showing the same mountain range in the background.

... and Now,  Grand Central Air Terminal, no longer an airport, is now a business park. (The 1929 terminal building has survived however; it is owned by the Disney Corporation).  The runway became Grand Central Avenue, in Glendale - this recent photo was taken from therelooking southwest down Grandview Avenue to the same skyline.

 

Then ...  Brenda glimpses Alcatraz from the air and we can only begin to imagine what conflicting thoughts must be running through her mind.

... and Now,  it's no longer a prison but the extant buildings continue to present an imposing authoritarian reminder of its grim past.

 

    In true Hollywood "All's Well That Ends Well' fashion who should be sitting right behind her but the determined Tim Nolan.  As she rests her hand on his the movie fades out to our collective nods of approval.  Aaaah!

 

The Conversation - Media Frenzy

Then ...  Having just seen the Director's wife very much alive after 'witnessing' her apparent death Caul is doubly shaken when he picks up a newspaper on a street corner and reads that the Director has died in a car crash.  By now the poor guy's head must really be spinning.

... and Now,  in the movie capture above there's a phone booth next to the newspaper kiosk ... earlier in the movie we saw Caul using this phone - it was on the Sutter Street corner at Polk (map).  There's no phone booth there now but wouldn't you know it, the newspaper kiosk is still there!

 

Then ...  He rushes back to the Embarcadero Center in the Financial District in time to see the wife, who has now inherited ownership of her husband's property business, about to be swarmed by the local media.

... and Now,  this is the same staircase, at the west end of the lobby level of One Embarcadero Center, where Caul had been turned away a little earlier.

 

    Caul watches from the fringe as she pushes her way through, deflecting reporters and questions - "Do you suspect any foul play in the accident?" ... "Will your stock now give you controlling interest?" ... "What's going to happen to the company?" ...

    But what really happened at the Jack Tar hotel?  We are as confused as he is.  Did her lover kill her husband then stage the car accident?  Nothing seems to add up but Caul's fecund imagination conjures up the Director laid out in Room 773.

 

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, the first one from the busy Powell Street turnaround,  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.

 

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