Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Bureaucratic Runaround

Matthew wanders through downtown streets making a series of calls to city and federal officials. He quickly finds that nobody is interested in his reports of slimy half-formed beings.

Then … He first meets a staff member from the Mayor’s office in Union Square. He is urged to not say a word to anyone.

and Now, this is the northeast corner of the square at Post and Stockton (map). The steps have been expanded and one of the city’s Hearts, part of a citywide arts project, is on display there. In both images the St. Francis Hotel on Powell Street can be seen across the square.

 

Then … Next he tries calling the Police Department but is immediately cut off. The high-rise offices in the background are Two Embarcadero Center on the right and the Alcoa Building on the left. Harrington’s Irish pub is on the same block as the phone booth. In these street scenes the camera swirls in constant motion, reflecting his confusion.

and Now, this is Front Street looking north towards and across Sacramento Street in the Financial District (map). The Alcoa Building is known today as One Maritime Plaza. Harrington’s, there since 1935, continues to slake the neighborhood’s thirst.

 

Then … The Mayor’s office calls back and asks him to use his discretion, because “… this whole thing might be abating”.

and Now, this is the junction of Powell, Eddy and Market at the cable car turntable (map). The corner building straight ahead at One Powell was built in 1921 , originally housing A.P. Giannini’s Bank of Italy, later known as Bank of America. Today it’s a flagship AT&T store with redeveloped luxury condominiums above.

 

Then … The Federal Preparedness Agency are equally unhelpful, telling him to keep an open mind. “Don’t mention to anyone about duplicate bodies, for God’s sake”.

and Now, this is a half block up Powell Street from Market. the Mac Pro Store, partially blocked by the advertising kiosk and the cable car awaiting its turn to head down to the turntable, has replaced the Cable Car Steak Restaurant at 45 Powell.

 

Then … His head is spinning as he walks the streets replaying in his mind the unified opposition from those very agencies and officials who should have been jolted into an immediate investigative response. Perhaps Elizabeth is right, this smells of a conspiracy. On the left Woolworths occupies the retail level of the Flood Building.

and Now, viewed from Ellis, with Market Street crossing in the distance, this looks along the same block of Powell Street as the previous two Then photos above, but in the opposite direction. Woolworth’s is long gone; its site now houses The Gap.

 

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Matthew's Place - 1

Then … Matthew invites Elizabeth to a casual stir-fry at his home. She wonders if she is losing her mind - she tells him that her boyfriend Geoffrey is not Geoffrey; he looks the same but has lost all emotions and feelings. Matthew listens politely but he’s understandably skeptical.

… and Now, from the same vantage point there have been several changes to these rooms. The doorway at far left is the same one but is now partially hidden from here by a wall that has been extended towards the viewer. A kitchen remodel has eliminated the hanging shelves. Straight ahead in back of the living room is the same front entrance.

 

Then … A vista shown later in the movie reveals the location of the house - it’s the two story in the foreground at far right at 1227 Montgomery Street, Telegraph Hill (map). The street-facing upstairs patio door is the one seen in the interior image above.

… and Now, this view looks south towards downtown along Montgomery Street from Union Street. Forty years on, the distant bullet-shaped Salesforce Tower at left is the biggest (literally) change on the horizon. Note that 1227 Montgomery now has an added 3rd story.

 

Then … A shot of Matthew on the patio also captures downtown and, in the distance, the Bay Bridge.

… and Now, rampant foliage removes the view from our sight but we see that the rusted lamp post at left is the same one, but the lamp has been upgraded. Alongside it a tiny sliver of the bridge’s roadway is all that’s visible from here through the trees. And, the patio railing has since been replaced, conforming to tightened safety codes.

 

It’s warm outside so they dine in the garden. Matthew suggests she meet his psychiatrist friend David Kibner ... “He will put things into perspective for you”.

 

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Terror At The Mud Baths

    You read it here first, folks.  After months of searching, CitySleuth has found the location of the Bellicec Mud Baths.  The only online reference he had dug up was "somewhere on Clement Street," which turns out to be close but not the case.

Then ...  Jack Bellicec (Jeff Goldblum) runs a Mud Baths business with his wife Nancy (Veronica Cartwright).  She greets him as he enters the reception area from the street. 

...  and Now,  the bathhouse scenes were filmed at 5499 California Street at 17th Avenue in the Outer Richmond (map). Previously the L & E Market, it had been vacant for a couple of years before director Kaufman built a realistic movie set inside the store.  The site has since 1998 been a children’s dance studio, the home of Miss Tilly's Ballet and Theater Arts.

 

Then ...  Jack walks between two rows of massage booths towards the mud baths in the rear.

Then ...  He begins to feel very tired and hardly notices the customers soaking in the baths.

...  and Now,  the dance studio has since been foreshortened by a new rear wall. When the movie set was built, the massage booths were on this side of the new wall; the mud baths were behind it.

 

Here’s the 17th Avenue side of the building in 2008, similar to how it was when the movie was filmed, compared with the building today. New apartments have been built next door encroaching into the 5499 California space and onto its roof. The dotted red lines indicate the position of the dance studio’s interior back wall Then and Now.

 

Jack lies down for a nap. The movie’s undercurrent of mystery is suddenly jarred into reality when Nancy comes looking for him. She screams in terror when, in one of the massage booths, she finds a hairy, slimed half-formed creature with Jack’s facial features. They don’t know it yet but his body is close to being replaced by a look-alike alien.

 

Then ...  She finds Jack and wakes him up, unwittingly thwarting the body snatch. They call Matthew; as Nancy lets him in, the panning camera reveals two neon ‘BATHS’ signs, one in each of the store’s two front windows on either side of the central doorway (but note that the one on the right behind Matthew was not lit up during this scene - either an oversight or a setup problem).

...  and Now,  the entrance, previously with a double door, now has a single one. (Painters had erected temporary scaffolding outside the day CitySleuth took this photo).

 

When Matthew sees the body he has a dread feeling that Elizabeth, back at her home, may also be at risk. He finds her there asleep and carries her out, on the way passing another creature, this one with the features of Elizabeth. For the second time a body snatching takeover has been narrowly averted.

 

Then ...  Kibner joins them all at the mud baths but Jack’s look-alike has vanished. This shot in the reception area (the front entrance is on the right) helped narrow CitySleuth’s search for the location because the windows beyond them meant that it had to be on a street corner.

...  and Now,  frosted glass on those same windows provide privacy from passersby.

 

Then ...  An exterior scene filmed in front of the baths revealed more visual clues to the location: the wall detail at the corner behind Matthew, a kerbside power pole to the left and a curved arch at upper far left. The neon sign which was dark earlier (five images above) is turned on here. (The matching sign in the other window would be above Nancy’s head but is obscured by the car).

...  and Now,  the power pole is still there and the corner wall detail is the same. From here, trees block the view at upper far left of the adjacent space’s window arches corresponding to the curved detail above.

 

Play It Again Sam - Julie's Choice

    CitySleuth must confess that he has struggled to nail the location of this next scene, where Allan takes his new friend Julie out for a date at a tavern.  Instead he presents educated guesses and looks to his readers to confirm or otherwise.

Then ...  In the tavern two bikers spot them in a booth and head over.  (Click or swipe the image for an enlarged view).

... and Now?  Could this have been filmed in the Hidive bar at Pier 28 on the Embarcadero (map)?  The angled front door with the window next to it on the right matches nicely.  The tavern, for many decades known as the Boondocks, was remodeled in 2004, which might explain why the bar is now on the opposite side.

 

    As the bikers mercilessly hit on Julie (Joy Bang), totally ignoring our hapless hero, the writing on the life ring buoy on the wall references Pier 28, the location of the Hidive.  (A different shot showing all of the buoy revealed its full text as 'Maries Pier 28').

 

Then ...  The big guys follow them outside.  Allan's amusingly puny efforts to 'fight' them gets him nowhere fast but they leave him mostly unscathed after Julie makes a choice - them.  To CitySleuth's eye this is a different building than that used for the interior scene.

and Now? ...     Note the bar's name above - 'Pier Head'.  The 1972 street directory lists a Pier Head tavern at 780 Embarcadero South opposite Piers 42 and 44.  The tavern, indicated below in a vintage aerial photo, and the piers were demolished decades ago during major reconstruction of the Embarcadero.  But was this scene filmed here?  CitySleuth appeals to anyone who might know, or who might have a vintage photo of the long-gone building, to comment below or contact him at citysleuth@reelsf.com.

    Since then, these southern-most couple of blocks of the Embarcadero have been removed, making room for the Giants ballpark; as a result the spot where the Pier Head used to sit is now right next to the ballpark.

 

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