Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Experiment In Terror - Toby at The Country Club

  Kelly's sister Toby and boyfriend Dave choose a sunny day and outdoor setting to go for a swim.  They are at Max Friedman's Marin Town and Country Club in Fairfax, 30 minutes or so by car north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County (map).  (CitySleuth is indebted to reader Janice Pearcy for bringing this location to his attention).  Although termed a club, it was open to the public and by the 1960s hosted thousands of visitors on a typical summer weekend who could enjoy swimming, basketball, baseball, volleyball, dancing, movies and more.  Families, especially from San Francisco, would rent out summer cottages here for a leisurely week or two for their annual vacation.

Then ... Toby shrieks as she's about to leap backwards from the diving board.


... and Now,  the country club closed down in 1972 - the site is now privately owned - and since then the pools and buildings have steadily deteriorated over the decades as evidenced by this sorry sight.


... a vintage photo ...  the diving board Toby jumped from is seen in this undated photo, taken in the club's heyday from the opposite direction, with the pool house behind it.

... and Now,  the same view today.  The diving board is gone but the pool house still stands


... an early aerial view ...  This aerial from the 1940s of the Marin Town and Country Club clearly shows the swimming pool featured in the scene above. To it's right is a basketball court and a small diving pool and the tennis courts are partially visible near the top right corner.  Baseball diamonds are on either side of the oval parking lot, which used to be a horse ring.

... and Now,  the algaed pool and pool house from the air today.  The surrounding spaces have been claimed by many uninvited trees.


  This amusing poster for the country club reminded Casper-the-ghost-like denizens trapped in the nearby bleak city of the glorious paradise but a short drive away.


Then ... Toby and Dave (Harvey Evans) flirt outrageously in the pool and we get a closer view of the diving board structure and the pool house.

... and Now,  the original tiles are still there, also one of the diving board mounting brackets.  The drooping downspout on the dilapidated pool house is but one example of the ravages of time.


  Toby then gets a fright when she finds a note from the stalker in her sports bag commanding Kelly to meet him at the Roaring 20s night club the following evening.  He was that close to her, playing mind games to heighten the threat.

The Lady From Shanghai - On The Lam - Chinese Telephone Exchange

  Just around the corner from Grant at Washington was the venerable Chinese Telephone Exchange at 743 Washington (map).  It opened in 1901 at which time, pre dialling, the operators had to know all of the Chinatown customers by name and address because it was considered rude to refer to a person by number.  Each operator also had to speak the many dialects of Chinese spoken by the residents.  It was no surprise perhaps that the original male operators were soon replaced by women, on account of their "good temper".

Then ...  The charming and compact pagoda-style exchange was briefly seen in the movie during O'Hara's desperate dash along Grant Avenue.  Note the name on the shop to its right, on the corner of Grant - Dupont, a throwback to Grant Avenue's previous name.

and Now ...  the exchange closed in 1949 two years after the movie was filmed and since then has housed banks, including Bank of Canton and, in this recent photo, United Commercial Bank.  (Update: East-West Bank is the newest tenant but the building remains unchanged).  It says a lot about San Francisco's mild climate that the painted sign on the brick side wall has aged so gracefully.


Then ...  Later in the movie when Elsa makes a phone call we see inside the exchange as the call goes through.

... a vintage photo ...  here's the pretty Harriot Ng at work in the exchange back in 1929.  Check out her chair -  it's obviously still in use almost 20 years later, in the movie scene above.

... another vintage photo ...  this undated photo shows the exchange in its very early days with a small bank of equipment and a handful of operators.

... a later photo ...  by the time this vintage postcard photo was taken the equipment takes up the full width of the room and more and there are many more operators.

and Now ...  the room may have been refigured for a bank but the same two dragons partially visible above continue to face each other on the back wall.

Portrait In Black - I. Magnin's on Union Square

  How does a lady meet with her lover when she can't drive and her husband's chauffeur takes her everywhere?  Sheila has just heard that her amour David Rivera, who also happens to be her husband's doctor, is leaving the country to take up a new job.  She is desperate to see him.

Then ...  She has the chauffeur drop her off at I. Magnin's flagship store on Union Square, asking him to return later.  They pull up in front of the main entrance on Geary near Stockton (map).  The signs along along the Geary block include Macy's, Frank Werner's Shoes and Dohrmanns.

... and Now,  the same view today.  The St. Francis Hotel takes up the whole Powell Street block in the background and there's still an entrance to the parking lot below Union Square at far right.  The plaza itself has been relaid out with many more steps for easier access from the sidewalks.


... a vintage photo ...  this early 1960s postcard pictures the block on Geary as it was when the movie was filmed.  I. Magnin's is the tall white building left of center and to its right is Blum's and Macy's Geary street entrance (its main building is behind it on O'Farrell) and Dohrmanns department store is further along.  The City Of Paris store with its rooftop Eiffel Tower is at far left across Stockton Street.

... and Now,  I. Magnin was purchased by Macy's in the late 1980s and its store is now a Macy's building but the original entrance, left of center below, today leads into a Louis Vuitton store.


Then ...  Sheila makes her way through the store.  Behind her, across Union Square on the Post Street block, we see a narrow three story building with arched windows on the top floor and a balustrade at roof level.

... a vintage photo ...  here's the same block back in 1947 where we see the same narrow building next to the Hotel Plaza.  These are the two buildings seen in the movie image above.

... and Now,  the same block today.  The narrow building, at 340 Post (with awnings over the arched windows), is the only survivor on this block since the 1940s.  Built in 1923 for Bullock and Jones, they were there for over eighty years until Sonoma Williams recently took it over.


Then ...  But shopping is the last thing on her mind.  She passes directly through I. Magnin's, exits onto Stockton Street, hails a cab and directs it to Rivera's apartment.  Sneaky.  The cross street is Geary and the store at right across Stockton is the City of Paris.  Across Geary is Guaranty Savings.  Check out that $8,000 tourmaline mink coat worn by Lana Turner - it was flown in from New York just for this scene.

... and Now,  the same view.  The City of Paris store at far right has been rebuilt with a glass facade and is now the home of Nieman Marcus.  Bulgari is the tenant now across Geary where Guaranty Savings was.

Impact - Larkspur - Walter Lies Low

  The two-timing Irene has been arrested and accused of Walter's murder while the police continue to look for Torrence.  Walter follows the news in the papers but decides to lie low in Larkspur under an assumed name and let his wife suffer in jail.

Then ...  Marsha suggests he room in her house next to the garage and It soon becomes clear that they are falling for each other.  In this scene they chat on the porch of her house, in real life the home of garage owner Hil Probert, at 234 Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur (map).  That's Hil's greenhouse next to the house.

... and Now,  the house today is the Tavern at Lark Creek restaurant (formerly the Lark Creek Inn) and the greenhouse and surrounding garden is now a parking lot.

... and Now,  here's a wider view of the house.  The newer structure in the front was appended in the early 1970s when the Probert house became a restaurant.  The garage site, described in the previous location, is next door to the left, just off the picture.


Then ...  Walter readily adapts to quiet rural town life, even joining the local Volunteer Fire Brigade.  Below, he attends the local church, St. Patrick's, which faced onto King Street at the corner of  Locust (map).  For this scene the director chose the older, quainter church over the newer St. Patrick's that was built eight years earlier at the end of the block at Magnolia.

... and Now,  the old church has been replaced by St. Patrick's Parochial School, seen below.  A good cause, yes, but what a pity such a picturesque structure was abandoned.


Then ...  They take a stroll across a bridge at a nearby lake.  Did I say nearby?  This scene was filmed in Southern California at the Corriganville Movie Ranch, an outdoors spread in Simi Valley including extensive Western town sets and used by countless movies from 1937 - 1965.  The lake was known as Robin Hood lake after the Robin Hood movies filmed there.

... and Now, the Western town on the ranch today has reverted to foundations and hiking trails and is open to the public as Corriganville Park.  The cement-lined man-made lake, located on the Corriganville loop trail near the 118 freeway (map), is now dry and exposed.  The bridge is gone but the supports are still there.  If Marsha and Walter were re-creating the above scene below, they would be approaching from the left.


Then ...  In this pastoral setting Walter admits to her that he is married but before she can ask how he ended up in Larkspur the town's fire horn (the real one) blares out, beckoning the volunteer brigade.  Note the large rock across the lake ...

... and Now,  the rock, now with a safety railing, used to be called the stunt rock.

... a vintage photo...  here's a circa 1950s shot of Gene Autry, the singing cowboy, taken from the same spot, again showing the stunt rock across the lake.


  In this not-to-scale map of the Corriganville movie ranch in its heyday, the lake, which was a mile from the Western town, is sketched in over to the right (click on the map to enlarge it).

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