Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Fog Over Frisco - Butchertown Bridge

Then ... Val continues on her desperate dash to the Butchertown Bridge.  The company sign in the background gives us a clue as to this location, supposedly in San Francisco but, as it turns out, filmed in Los Angeles ...

    Here's an old ad for the California Corrugated Culvert Co.  Of its two addresses, the shot above is the Los Angeles location east of Chinatown, looking towards Leroy Street from the railway tracks alongside the Los Angeles River (map).

... and Now,  in 1942 the  William Mead Homes public housing project was built on the 15 acres alongside Leroy Street , still there today.


    The cops are next seen pursuing Val at a location yet to be found ... possibly the industrial area south of Market in San Francisco (that could be the Marin Headlands way in the distance).


Then ...  Val arrives at the bridge where a man is waiting for her.  A train track on the right parallels the roadway over the bridge.

... and Now,  believe it or not, this is the same view today.  But where is it and why does it look so different?  Read on ...

    Here's the bridge in a 1930 photograph.  Built in 1924 as the Badger Avenue Bridge, it linked San Pedro across the Cerritos Channel with Terminal Island (map).  When a Ford assembly plant was built in 1930 on the island (seen below in the background), the bridge became known as the Henry Ford Bridge.  The bridge design is known as a Bascule bridge - this one is unusual in that it is a combination of two back-to-back Bascules, each with three massive counterweights.  The movie image above was shot from the far lefton the south (Terminal Island) side.

Then ...  When Tony's cab reaches the bridge as a train reverses by we get a closer look at the bridge's triple counterweights.

... and Now,  an aerial view of the bridge today (with Terminal Island on the right) shows many changes.  The original road/rail bridge has been replaced by two bridges:  the Commodore Schuyler Heim road bridge since 1948 and a vertical lift railway bridge that replaced the Bascule bridge in 1996 (the nearest one).  (The Now image above was taken from the spot arrowed at right).


    So the bridge scene was filmed in Southern California even though San Francisco has a Bascule bridge of its own, the Lefty O'Doul Bridge crossing Mission Creek (McCovey Cove) at 3rd Street in China Basin (map).  It's next to the SF Giants' ballpark and just blocks north of the old Butchertown neighborhood.  Unlike the Henry Ford Bridge this one is a single bridge and has only two counterweights, but it's still in use today.  Built in 1933 it was there when the movie was filmed so why the moviemakers didn't film here is anyone's guess.


The Penalty - The Penalty Is Paid

    Blizzard has another diabolical plan - he now turns his attention to Ferris, the doctor who had needlessly amputated his legs.  He begins by kidnapping Ferris's assistant and taking him to the fully equipped operating room that he had set up in his cellar for this very moment.


Then ...  He then calls Ferris telling him his daughter Barbara is at his house, injured.  He wastes no time rushing over.

and Now...  this is 59 Wentworth Place in Chinatown, described in more detail in an earlier post.  Note that the sidewalk has since been widened and the lampposts shifted outwards.


    Rose is mortified when she overhears Blizzard demanding that Ferris remove the legs from his assistant and graft them onto him otherwise harm will befall the doctor's daughter.  Despite her love for Blizzard, she is shocked into action, rushing off to get help from her Secret Service colleagues...


    ... but they arrive to find that, instead, Ferris had finally treated the original injury, a contusion on the brain that had all along been the cause of Blizzard's bizzare and criminal behavior.  Rose is overjoyed to see that he is now not only mentally cured but determined to right his wrongs.


    Unfortunately, a happy ending is about to be thwarted by Blizzard's cronies who, hearing of his transformation to righteousness, are fearful he will shop them...

    Blizzard's new life - he and Rose are now married, is short-lived when Frisco Pete shows up and dispatches him with a single shot.  

        His dying words ...


Harold And Maude - Bereft

    Maude's death has left Harold bereft and confused.  He takes off on a long drive in his Jaguar prompting our concern for his well-being.  Director Hal Ashby chose to include the drive as a series of clips interspersed within the hospital scenes but CitySleuth presents them here sequentially in the order in which they appear in the movie.  They were filmed south of San Francisco, jumping from place to place across the peninsula without regard to geographical continuity. 

    Our first view of the drive is here, somewhere in the hills on a wet and gloomy day.  CitySleuth is still searching for the location.


Then ...  He's next on a curving coastal highway passing a golf course on the left between the road and the ocean.

... and Now,  this view looks north from an overpass crossing Highway 1 in Pacifica (map).  The Sharp Park neighborhood of Pacifica is straight ahead and the seaside links course, now shrouded from here by tall trees, is the Sharp Park Golf Course.  A central concrete divider has since been installed to make the highway curve a little safer.


Then ...  Back in the hills ...

... and Now,  ... this is miles away on Pescadero Creek Road, halfway between the little town of Pescadero and the Pacific Coast (map).  Location nuts visiting this spot should take the opportunity to stop for lunch at the popular Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, a way station serving hungry travelers since 1894.


Then ...  The rainy weather is beginning to clear up.

... and Now,  This S-curve looks awfully like the same location, also on Pescadero Creek Road but deep in the hills between Alpine Road and Loma Mar (map).  At this and the previous Pescadero Creek Road location the white center line has been upgraded to yellow reflectors.


Then ...  Next he's driving alongside a cemetery that he and Maude had visited earlier in the movie.

... and Now,  it's the Sneath Lane side of the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno (map).


Then ...  Back at the coast, returning to Pescadero, the Jaguar turns from Pescadero Creek Road onto Highway 1 and heads north  (map).

... and Now,  Then and Now comparisons of rural locations often show little change over time.


Then ...  He is still on Highway 1 but now 29 miles further north in Pacifica.  Where is he going?  What will he do?  (Patience, dear readers, the next blog post will reveal all).

... and Now,  this is the Mori Point Road junction.  The turn-off  takes hikers to the Mori Point trail a short distance away (map).


Fog Over Frisco - To The Bridge!

Then ...  Val, responding to Arlene's telegrammed cry for help, speeds south down 4th Street on her way to Butchertown Bridge.   Behind her, facing us, is the Roos Bros. department store on Market Street (map).

... and Now,  The store today houses the Union Square branch of Forever 21.

     The Roos Bros. store opened October 31, 1908 to great fanfare, an important contribution to the city's downtown post-earthquake recovery.  It's pictured here after a 1937 remodel; Stockton Street intersects at far left.


Then ...  Now it's the turn of the police to join the chase - a police captain's car pulls out of Harbor Police Station from the left side and heads  south on Drumm Street, about to pass the masonry arched Engine 12 firehouse at far right on the southwest corner of Drumm and Commercial Street.

... and Now,   Three Embarcadero Center replaced this block of Commercial Street in the 1970s and a pedestrian bridge was added above Drumm.   Ann Taylor and a Naturalizer Store currently overlap the location of the old firehouse site (map).

    This 1953 photo of a 1929 hose tender taken outside the Engine 12 firehouse shows the masonry arches seen in the movie.  The window visible through the open door looked out onto Commercial.


Then ...  The police station, kitty-korner across Drumm from the firehouse, spits out a cadre of cops on bikes.

... a vintage photo ...  a wider view of Harbor Police Station, on the northeast corner of Drumm and Commercial, is seen in this photo.

... and Now,   the Embarcadero Four Center sits astride where this Commercial Street block used to be.  For a look at the block before it was demolished go here.


Then ...  Tony's cab isn't far behind Val as it heads across Market about to turn into 4th Street.  Note the vertical sign at far left for the California Theatre, San Francisco's first real movie palace, which opened in 1917.

... and Now,   the building on the right corner dates from 1908 and has survived but the theatre building across 4th at 799 Market was demolished in 1961, subsequently replaced by the retail/office building still there today.

    .... here's a 1944 vintage photo that, 10 years later, reproduces the Then image above.  By then the movie house had been renamed the State Theatre, continuing under this name until it closed down in 1961.  Note Roos Bros. store opposite.

    And for those theatre history buffs amongst us here's a c. 1917 photo taken shortly after the original California Theatre opened.


Then ...  When the cops make a turn into a wide thoroughfare a barely legible United Cigars store sign on the corner at left provided the clue to this location.

... a vintage photo ...   CitySleuth came across this 1921 photo taken from the same spot; it looks east along Mission Street past 4th (map).  The United Cigars store was at 99 4th Street.

... and Now,   the soul of SoMa is rapidly crumbling under the encroachment of impersonal modern buildings.


    Here's a challenge, dear readers - the location of this next shot of Tony's cab has so far stumped CitySleuth.  Does anybody out there recognize it?  (The sloping hill at the end of the street may be the best clue)...

    ... a closer view of the hillside is seen as the cab nears the end of the road.  Note the path or road winding up the lowest part of the hill.  But where is this?


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