Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The House Across The Bay - At The Airport

Then ...  Tim's idea of a date with Brenda is to to take her to a local airport.  They drive in between two hangars.

     In the storyline this scene was set in the Bay Area but it was filmed at Clover Field in Southern California at what is now Santa Monica Airport.  Here's an early 1930s vintage photo of Clover Field; at that time there were just three hangars - the one on the left was the first to be built.  The arrow shows the path of Tim's car in the movie.

    By 1940 a much larger hangar had been added alongside the three existing ones as well as the sprawling Douglas Aircraft plant next to it at 3000 Ocean Park Boulevard.   The path taken by Tim's car is again marked, on the left, after they drove in from Ocean Park Boulevard.  Douglas Aircraft Company became a major defense contractor during WW II employing 44,000 working 3 shifts seven days a week.

 

    Brenda is about to find out there's more to Tim than she knew - it turns out he's an ace aircraft designer for the Crane Aviation Company.  They pull up and look skyward where a test pilot is putting Tim's latest experimental plane through its paces. 

 

Then ...  The plane lands and taxis up to them - the pilot is effusive in his praise.  The Douglas plant is In the background at left and the structure in the center is the large hangar seen in the photo (two above) next to the plant.  Douglas Aircraft's original Clover Field hangar is on the right.

    Here's another aerial photo of Clover field, taken in 1940, which captured the buildings seen above.  The arrow points to another plane that happens to be parked in the same spot as Tim's was.

... and Now ...  the same site today , alongside Santa Monica airport.  The newer, longer runway was built on the golf course seen in the lower foreground above.  The Douglas plant has since been torn down, replaced by business parks; the arrow points approximately to where the location above was.  The Sunset Park neighborhood of single family homes surrounding the airport were mostly built during WW II to house the Douglas Aircraft workers.

 

    Tim persuades a very nervous Brenda to climb into the aircraft with him for what will be her first ever plane ride.  "Contact!", he calls and the propeller is cranked.  Looking at this slick flying machine makes it hard to believe that heavier-than-air machine flight began only 36 years earlier.

    The aircraft in the movie was a Phillips Aeroneer.  This 1940 photo of it was taken at the San Francisco Bay Airdrome, an east bay airfield that used to be next to where Alameda Naval Air Station is now.  The tail is marked with its identification number NX16075 but also sports 'Crane Aviation Co. XPT', its name in the movie.  MGM studios owned this aircraft and featured it in several movies, usually piloted by renowned stunt pilot Paul Mantz, who flew it in this movie. (Photo by William T. Larkins).

 

The Conversation - Payday At The Director's Office

  Stett, the Director's assistant, phones Caul and confirms he has the tapes.  He tells Caul to come to the office for his fee.

Then ...  Caul makes his way along a corridor at One Embarcadero Center (described here earlier).  The camera glimpses a building through the corridor window with other construction activity behind it.

and Now ...  This is the 33-story 100 Pine Center office building, barely completed when the movie was filmed.  It is now surrounded by many more Financial District high-rises built during the construction bonanza starting in the 1960s.  The shot was filmed high up on the south side of One Embarcadero Center.

 

Then ...  Citing leaseholder privacy the Center's owners were reluctant to allow CitySleuth to search out the office so he will use clues from its window views to deduce the specific location.  From inside the office this view looks northeast across Treasure Island to the East Bay hills.

and Now ...  using the amazing Google Earth app we can hover above One Embarcadero (center foreground) to see the same view today, indicated by the arrow.  The above view can only be seen from a north or east facing window (clue # 1).  Embarcadero Two, Three and Four are in-line to the right but when the movie was filmed Embarcadero Two was being built and Three and Four were yet to be started.

 

Then ...  Stett and the Director (Robert Duvall, in an uncredited cameo role) are listening to the tapes, the confirmation of his wife's affair making the Director both agitated and angry.  From here there's a window view looking west between Sacramento and Clay towards the Fairmont Hotel Tower (with the flag) and the tall, narrow 1250 Jones apartments to the right.

and Now ...  One Embarcadero is at center in the lower foreground and the yellow arrow indicates its west view; the white arrows point out those two buildings mentioned above.  Armed with this second clue we surmise that the Director's office must have windows facing west and north.

 

Then ...  The camera has panned to the left of the movie frame  above (the orange artwork is the link between these two interior shots); it shows Caul taking his money and we see there's a corner part to the office with windows looking out to the south and west.  Interestingly the model of One Embarcadero Center in the corner coupled with another model of the site area on the table in the interior shot above suggests the Director is the developer of the Center.

and Now ...  here's that same view today, far more cluttered.  This clue # 3 then tells us this office must have windows facing north, west and also south.  Only a small number of offices at One Embarcadero can boast of this but ... which of them is this one?

 

    This recent photo of the west side of One Embarcadero Center reveals that only the top three floors of the two tallest columns have windows facing north + west + south.  CitySleuth has marked where he thinks the scene was filmed, in an office spanning the two tallest columns.    Now refer back to the movie capture (three above) that looks out from a north facing window across Treasure Island.  It offers a fourth clue - see the narrow balcony outside the windows?  As viewed from the third office down from the top it is likely the edge of the rooftop of the column of offices on the far left in the photo below.  Too, in the south view above there appears to be a concrete detail outside the window; it looks like the top corner of the office column next to it.  So the location appears to be two floors below the top floor.  CitySleuth would appreciate it if any reader can confirm or correct this.

 

Then ...  Our guilt-stricken protagonist takes the packet of money but disgustedly flings it across the lawn in front of the Alcoa Building across Clay Street from One Embarcadero Center (map).  But second thoughts give him pause ...

and Now ...  note the seismic bracing at ground level, a fairly recent addition.

 

Then ...  Greed trumps guilt and he picks up the money.  The building's entrance has its name on it - The Alcoa Building.

and Now ...   there's since been a name change - it's now One Maritime Plaza.  The new seismic strengthening continues around the perimeter, advisable perhaps in this shake-prone city but detracting from the building's original levitated appearance.

 

The Laughing Policeman - The Snitch

  Police informants are part of the fabric of crime investigation especially when leads are scarce. In their search for the source of the automatic weapon used in the bus massacre Jake and Larsen meet one such snitch at Enrico's in North Beach.

Then ...  For this scene the director populated the curbside dining area with an odd array of characters ranging from hippie to dippy.  The restaurant diagonally across the street is Swiss Louis, at that spot since 1936, and the Transamerica pyramid looms in the background.

... and Now,  Enrico's started serving italian cuisine to customers at 504 Broadway near Kearny Street in 1959 (map) eventually closing in 2006.  Today the site houses a lunch spot, Naked Lunch, and sensibly the cosy outside dining space was retained.  Swiss Louis moved from across the street in 1978 to its current location at Pier 39.

... a few years earlier ...  The same location appeared in this scene in the 1968 movie 'Bullitt'.

 

Then ...  Information from a snitch is usually unreliable at best and all they gleaned from the meeting was a name that may or may not turn out to be useful.  As they leave Enrico's you can just see the awning sign of the adjacent drag venue Finocchio's at 506 Broadway.  They then turn at the fish and chip shop on the corner and head up Kearny Street.

... and Now,  the metal framework of the former Enrico's awning is still in place, a skeletal reminder of what used to be, as too is the stunted remnant of the corner power pole.  The Kearny steps have since been renamed for Peter Macchiarini, a local jewelry designer and founder of a number of San Francisco street fairs.  Finocchio's has become home to the Pier 5 law firm.

 

  Viewed from across Broadway Finocchio's is pictured here alongside Enrico's in an early 1960s image.  It featured cross-dressing entertainment from 1936 until it closed in 1999.  A must-see for visitors of the day, it remained a city favorite over the decades.  Check out this TV feature on the club from 1980.

 

Then ...  Their car is parked a short way up Kearny on a block so steep that steps replace sidewalks the whole way up on both sides.  Fortunately Jake knew how to curb his wheels, second nature with San Franciscans, but that looks like a No Parking sign up the way; certainly parking is prohibited here today.

... and Now,  some updated ductwork on the left, repainted exteriors, otherwise there are no significant changes.

 

The House Across The Bay - Tim's Best Friend

    Mary and Brenda stop by a store to make a phone call.  Mary, sassy as ever, hectors the man hogging the phone, Tim Nolan (Walter Pidgeon).  He doesn't mind, in fact he rather takes a shine to Brenda.  But she resists his efforts to get to know her, wanting no part of a new male friendship.

 

Then ...  Tim is a determined man and he manages to find out her address.  He pulls up across the street from her apartment on Lombard Street.  With Angel Island and Pier 37 lining up in the distance, this must be the junction with the north end of Kearny (map).

... and Now,  This block of Kearny has been developed quite a bit since then, including these houses, but Angel Island and the site of the demolished pier 37, now a marina, are still visible from here.

 

Then ...  Tim looks up to her apartment on the top floor of 301 Lombard Street at the base of Telegraph Hill ....

... and Now,  it's been over 70 years but you'd hardly know it comparing the houses today.

 

Then ...  As Tim wonders how best he should make contact a deliveryman arrives and calls Brenda from an outside phone.  She buzzes the door open for him and before it closes Tim urges his dog Smitty to follow the man.  He then returns home and, craftily, awaits a call from Brenda.

... and Now,  here's the same, identical, front door today. (By the way, check out the gawkers reflected in the doorway glass above, watching the scene being filmed).

 

Then ...  Sure enough, Brenda reads the dog's name tag and calls the phone number on it (Tim's).  When he shows up she's taken aback and accuses him of dirty tricks but he sweet talks her into a date (face it, how could she resist Walter Pidgeon's voice, one of the most mellifluous in the business?).

... and Now,  CitySleuth has explained earlier that the apartment scenes were filmed in a studio using photo and projected video backgrounds for the views.  The window view above is a photo plate of Yerba Buena Island and part of the Bay Bridge span taken from the Coit Tower parking lot at Pioneer Park.  From that same location today trees block that view but here's how it looks from close by at the top of Telegraph Hill Boulevard.

 

The Conversation - Prophetic Dream

    The conventioneers booze it up back at Caul's workshop.  Perhaps loosened up by the alcohol Caul uncharacteristically shares private thoughts with Meredith, the convention hostess (Elizabeth MacRae).  When his rival Bernie, using a planted microphone, jokingly plays it back for all to hear, Caul is furious and throws everyone but Meredith out.  She offers him solace and more as they end up spending the night together.

 

Then ... Caul's concerns over the fate of his surveillance target, the Director's two-timing young wife, gnaw away at him even as he sleeps and in a dream he finds himself following her to a park to warn her.

... and Now,  this is the southeast corner of Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights (mapwhere a series of four stairways lead up to the tennis courts.  The Director's wife was on the street level stairway accessed from Steiner Street.  (Coppola's use of oily smoke generators in this scene created a backlash amongst the surrounding residents forcing him to prematurely curtail the original scheduled shoot).

 

Then ...  She runs up the second stairway - the offset third and fourth are also visible successively climbing the hill towards the tennis court fence at the top.

... and Now,  the steps and the tennis courts are still there.

 

Then ...  He runs after her, pausing below the second stairway, offering as an excuse an outpouring of his childhood problems.

... and Now,  the matching view looks down to the corner of Steiner and Clay.

 

Then ...  He shouts his warning -  "... He'll kill you if he gets the chance ..." then, " ... I'm not afraid of death ..." and after a reflective pause, "... I am afraid of murder ".  Across Steiner Steet behind him we can just make out, at far left, the windows of 2310 Steiner.

... and Now,  absent the smoke there's a much clearer view of the shingled exterior of number 2310.

 

    Now he imagines the Director attacking his terrified wife ...

    ... then wakes up to find Meredith and his surveillance tapes gone.  So all along she had been on the Director's payroll to head off the chance that the incriminating tapes might end up in the wrong hands.  Caul's reaction was understandable ... "Bitch!".

 

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