Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Chinese Laundry

Then ...  When Matthew spills coffee on his shirt he takes it to his favorite Chinese laundry.  We see him here passing the Four Seas restaurant in Chinatown.

... and Now,  the same entrance today, at 731 Grant Avenue (map), has retained the wall decoration but the doors have been replaced.

... and Now,  the Four Seas took over the restaurant from the original Hang Far Low in the early 1960s, serving the neighborhood for decades until it closed in 2014.  It recently reopened as Mr. Jiu's who moved the entrance to the rear of the building at 28 Waverly Place.  The recent photo below shows the prominent Four Seas sign is still there on Grant, above the front entrance.


Then ...  He continues down Grant, here crossing Sacramento Street.

... and Now,  the same junction today.


Then ...  But as he enters the laundry it is clear from the Victorian houses reflected in the side window that this place is not in Chinatown.

... and Now,  in fact, it's miles away in the Haight district, at 1515 Waller Street (map).  It was called Russ Cleaners back then and it's still Russ Cleaners today.  But at least it's Chinese owned.


Then ...  The owner, thinking Matthew is a doctor, beckons him over to tell him he's very concerned - his wife "she different", "not my wife".

... and Now,  on a recent visit, based on the many racks filling the space, CitySleuth concludes the locals launder their shirts more often than they used to.


Then ...  When he leaves, a wider view of the laundry reveals more details that enabled CitySleuth to find this place.  Not for the first time the audience is left puzzling over what is being disposed of in the garbage truck.

... and Now,  the same view of 1515 Waller Street today.


  Russ Cleaners took over from Waller-Clayton Street Cleaning and Dyeing works in the 1950s and has been in business continuously under this name since then. 


Play It Again, Sam - Hong Fat Noodle Company

    Despite Allan's bizzare behaviour back at his apartment, Sharon comes along as his date, accompanied here by Linda as they arrive at the Hong Fat Noodle Company restaurant.  (But you can just make out the edges of a temporarily applied plastic sheet on the window, suggesting that a fictitious name was affixed just for this scene).


Then ...  CitySleuth could not find any record of a restaurant of this name in San Francisco.  But as they enter, there are a few clues that helped him find this location.  The girls climb two steps to the door, at bottom right there's a handrail and across the street is what could be a brightly lit nightclub.

... and Now,  here's the same view from the restaurant today - note the similar, if not the same, handrail.

Then ...  Inside, Allan continues making a fool of himself by demonstrating the right way to eat rice - by stuffing his face as fast as possible.  Sharon has seen enough ... she ups and leaves.  This shot yields another clue to the restaurant location - the sign across the road in the top right corner that reads 'Pepper'.

... and Now,  there's now a takeout counter where their table was.  So, enough already, where is this location?  Read on ...


    A search for 'Pepper' in the 1972 San Francisco street directory brought up the Peppermint Tree night club at 660 Broadway in North Beach at the edge of Chinatown.  And across the street from it?  The Yank Sing restaurant at 671 Broadway.  This was where the restaurant scene was filmed (map).

    As confirmation, a subsequent web search for Yank Sing yielded a 2005 online article about its history that mentioned that the restaurant was featured in  Play It Again, Sam.


 The location now ...  In 1974 Yank Sing moved to another location in town where it is still in business.  But its old location - the movie location - at 671 Broadway, now the VIP Coffee and Cakes Shop, looks just as it did, including those two steps and the handrail.


   As it turns out, there was a restaurant called Hong Fat Noodle Company at 63 Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown (map), in business when Play It Again Sam was filmed but long since closed.  It was a very popular dining spot with the local Chinese community and those fortunate others who knew about it (CitySleuth suspects Woody Allen was one of them and that he borrowed its name for the movie).  Here's a recent photo of that location - the restaurant was upstairs via those stairs.


Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Matthew's Office

Then...  Elizabeth and Matthew are both employed by the city's health department.  On her way to work she passes a street busker (Joe Bellan, banjo recorded by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead) and his faithful boxer companion.

... and Now,  this is Polk Street near the Grove Street corner in the Civic Center (map).  The view looks west past City Hall at far right and towards the War Memorial Opera House across Van Ness.  Davies Symphony Hall, there since 1980, is across Grove opposite the Opera House.


Then...  She enters her workplace at 101 Grove Street (map).

... and Now,  except for the ADA wheelchair sign and a handrail replacement the entrance looks exactly the same.


Then ...  She joins Matthew and a colleague in the lab; he is absorbed in scrutinizing a baked potato for contamination.

... and Now,  the rooms that comprise the lab area, on the top (4th) floor,  have been rearranged and refitted significantly since the moviemakers were here.  This is the most likely one used for this scene.


Then ...  They leave the lab, then and now called the Microbiology Laboratory, and head past room 412 towards his office.

... and Now,    today's safety-conscious era dictates an abundance of warning signs.


Then ...  Window views enabled CitySleuth to home in on Matthew's office.

... and Now,  the same office today has been divided into cubicles.  This is room 410 on the top floor of the building - the view looks across Grove Street to the south side of City hall.

    The office window is indicated here, overlooking Grove Street.


Then ...  Several of the Grove Street offices have a similar view.  How did CitySleuth decide that this was room 410?  Another movie view looking from the office down to the street corner at Polk and Grove was the clincher...

... and Now,  from room 410 today note the position of the lamppost relative to a statue pedestal beyond it.  Only this room's view has that matching alignment.


Then ...  In this shot the dome of City Hall dominates...

... and Now,  just as it does today.


   This is strange ... from outside Matthew's office we see a man peering intently through the glass at them.


Then ...  And as Elizabeth walks back to the lab, two more people are staring at her.  What is going on?

... and Now,  in this view of the top floor corridor we expect the marbled walls to be unchanged but we also note from the patterns that the floor tiles are the same ones as 40 years ago, in excellent condition.


Play It Again, Sam - Allan's Apartment, Interior

    A previous post identified Allan's apartment as 15 Fresno Street in North Beach.  Here he is outside the front door with his best friend Dick.

Then ...  Later in the movie Dick and his wife Linda (Diane Keaton) visit Allan; she is seen here just inside his front entrance.  But the apartment's interior scenes were filmed elsewhere.  (Note the continuity goof - the front door's letter box is at a different height).

... and Now,  this is 1212 Lombard Street in Russian Hill, a block from the city's famous Crooked Street (map).  It's the first floor flat of a luxury two flat property, addressed 1210 and 1212 Lombard, that fortunately for CitySleuth was on the market (asking price $5.8M) when he visited, allowing him to take photos during an open house.  1212 has a different front door now.


Then ...   To say that Allan is down on himself after his rejection/divorce is an understatement.  Dick and Linda try to help by lining up a series of blind dates for him.  This view across the North Bay from the living room captures the incongruously bulky Fontana Towers condominiums whose construction in 1962 on the site of an old pasta factory spawned a successful campaign by concerned neighbors for a 40 foot height limit for future projects near the waterfront.  A dollar short and a day late.

... and Now, here are those same towers today.  On the left side of the balcony a mirrored wall now extends out a few feet and the railing has been replaced to meet evolving safety standards.


Then ...   The imminent arrival of the first date, Sharon, prompts him to douse himself in deodorant; for good measure he adds baby powder and after-shave.

... and Now, the bathroom has since been remodeled; a shower has replaced the tiny corner sink.


    As he gets ready in the bedroom his imagination conjures an appearance by his hero Humphrey Bogart for some sage advise on how to handle women.  But first Bogie chastises him ... "For Christ's sake kid, you're gonna smell like a French cat-house ... it's her job to smell nice for you".


Then ...  Bogie stresses the importance of not being nervous.  "And whatever you do don't tell her you don't drink, she'll think you're a boy scout".  

... and Now, the bedroom is accessed via the door to the side of the entrance seen in the first Then and Now photos in this post.  The bathroom door in the corner, in an unusual traffic pattern, links through its shower, making a right turn into the bathroom shown above.  Note too the modified fireplace.


Then ...  His apartment is a jumbled mess with movie lobby cards and half sheet and one sheet posters  plastered all over the walls. After all, he is a movie nut.  He charges around in a tizzy clearing up right before she arrives.

... and Now, in this view looking away from the living room's picture windows towards the front door at the far end we see that the fireplace on the left is unchanged but over on the right a staircase leading to the lower level has since been added.  The closed door right of center leads into the bathroom.


    Sharon (Jennifer Salt) is gobsmacked and Dick and Linda shrink in embarrassment as Allan makes a fool of himself trying to come across as irresistibly macho.


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