Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Petulia - Penguin Show

   Archie takes his boys to see a performing penguin show.  On the way there he spots Petulia on a passing cable car and calls out "We're gonna see the penguins".

Then ...  this was filmed at a real show at a pool near Fisherman's Wharf featuring penguins diving off a high platform, sliding down a chute and riding on a skateboard.  Note the sign at the back - 'The Cannery Penguins' - in front of the gabled end of a long narrow building.

... a vintage photo ...  Neither the penguin pool nor that white building exist any more but the 1937 photo below of the old Cannery building at Leavenworth Street and Jefferson shows the gabled building across Leavenworth at lower left.  The pool was installed years later at the southeast corner of Leavenworth and Jefferson (map), left of center in the foreground.

... and Now,  the block that contained the pool and the building has since been redeveloped into the Anchorage Shopping Center, shown below taken from Jefferson looking south along Leavenworth.  The Cannery, still there, is just off the picture to the right.


Then ...  In the capture below one of the stars of the show summons up the nerve to take the plunge.  The highrise apartments in the background at left are on either side of Leavenworth at the top of Russian Hill.

... and Now,  Citysleuth snapped this matching photo from a rooftop within the Anchorage Shopping Center complex.  It looks south across Beach Street and over the Holiday Inn opposite and shows the same apartments and skyline as above.


    Petulia has followed them to the show.  Archie goes over to her and they briefly share a poignant, wordless moment to the gentle strains of John Barry's haunting Petulia's Theme.

Vertigo - Nervous Breakdown

  Following his visit to Madeleine's grave Scottie suffers a nightmare, causing him to spiral into a state of melancholia requiring treatment at a sanatorium.

Then ...  To usher in the nightmare scene a night vista is briefly shown with SP and Mobilgas neon signs glowing in the distance.  This was filmed looking east from the Top O' The Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel (map).

... a 1950s archival photo ...  We get a better look from the photograph below taken from the same spot.  The 32 story Russ Building, at that time the tallest office building in San Francisco, is over to the right and the Bay Bridge is seen crossing over to Yerba Buena Island.

... and Now, the relentless growth of the Financial District has transformed this view.  The tallest skyscrapers now are the Transamerica building at far left and the Bank Of America building right of center - the Russ building is still there, behind it and to the right, and several buildings in the lower foreground are little changed.


  The nightmare scene which followed included special effects by artist John Ferren who also painted the Portrait of Carlotta seen earlier in the Legion Of Honor art museum.


Then ...  Scottie has to spend time recovering in a sanatorium, St. Joseph's Hospital at 355 Buena Vista Avenue East facing Buena Vista Park (map).  Scottie's friend Midge's Karman Ghia is parked out front.

... and Now, the building looks the same today (OK, they moved the mailbox) but is now the Park Hill Condominiums.  Designed by architect John Foley, the six story building was built in 1928 in Spanish Revival style.



  In the sanatorium (the interior scenes were filmed in a Paramount Pictures studio) Midge plays Mozart to help ease him from his catatonic state but it will be months before he can recover and deal with his profound sense of guilt.


Then ...  Scottie's recuperation was represented by Hitchcock with soothing music played over a slow left-to-right panoramic sweep of the city, filmed from Twin Peaks (map).  Tiburon and Angel Island are in the left background, the Buena Vista Park hill is in the center, and that's Market Street at far right (click image to enlarge).

... and Now,  more than half a century later the almost identical view continues to be enjoyed from the popular Twin Peaks vista point.  Coincidentally, the red-roofed sanatorium building can be seen in the panorama, marked below by the arrow (click image to enlarge).

Experiment In Terror - High School

  Kelly drops her sister Toby off at school.  The police, who she had alerted after being threatened the night before, maintain a discrete watch on them.

Then ...  She drives up the hill to the school, on the left.  For this scene director Blake Edwards chose George Washington High School in the Richmond district (map).

... and Now,  though lacking the elevated perspective, this is the same view north down 30th Avenue to Geary Boulevard from Anza Street.


Then ...  Toby gets out and is puzzled when Kelly, without explaining why, warns her to watch out and be careful.  Meanwhile, filmed on 30th Ave close to Anza Street, we get a good view of George Washington High behind them.

... and Now,  trees and added structures obscure the school today at street level from this spot but here it is, looking essentially the same, viewed on a misty day from the upstairs level of a house opposite.


  Below is a recently taken aerial shot of George Washington High.  Lincoln Park is on the left and the Presidio on the right.  At the top, left to right, are the headlands of Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge, Bevedere/Tiburon and Angel Island.  The arrow shows where this scene was filmed.


... in 2005 ...  George Washington High was built in 1936 and is a well-regarded public school.  A bonus for the students are Golden Gate Bridge views from various vantage points at the school.  As an example, the photo below was taken from the bleachers of the sports field at the 2005 Senior graduation.

The Lady From Shanghai - Walhalla Bar

  On the boardwalk at Whaler's Cove in Sausalito , O'Hara again tries to persuade her to run away with him, telling her he can get his hands on $5000, but she continues to resist.

Then ...  The turretted house along the boardwalk behind Elsa used to be a beer garden and rooming house where Jack London is said to have written his novel 'Sea Wolf' while staying there.  On the left up the sloping walkway is the Walhalla, a bar and restaurant at 201 Bridgeway (map) with a long and checkered history (click the image to enlarge)..

... and Now,  In this recent photo we see that the turreted house is still there as is the Walhalla building, most recently the Gaylord India restaurant but currently vacant (click the image to enlarge)..

   Below is another recent view of the Walhalla building.  Compared to the 'Then' movie view above, the original building has been expanded out towards the water and has a gabled section added to the right side.


Then ...  Later in the movie the Walhalla is seen from a different perspective.  Incidentally, the bar was always called the Valhalla but the sign, seen below, had been misspelled with a 'W'.

... and Now,  the same view today.

The Lady From Shanghai -  Walhalla Bar


  The Walhalla received Marin County's first liquor license in 1870 when Sausalito (Spanish for 'Little Willow', named after a row of willow trees along the shore) was known as 'Dirty Ol' Sausalito'.  In 1946 Sally Stanford, who in her storied past had run a high-class San Francisco bordello, became Walhalla's owner.  After a dispute with the town over an electric sign outside her building she got into politics and eventually became Mayor of Sausalito in 1976 when she was 72.  Sally is pictured below in 1962.


  In the Walhalla George Grigsby reminds O'Hara that there's $5000 in it for him if he goes along with his scheme.  He wants to feign a murder, Grigsby's murder no less, and have O'Hara sign a confession. Then Grigsby will disappear to a new life, away from the threat of nuclear warfare, in a safe distant place.  He tells O'Hara he won't be at risk because ... "There's no such thing as homicide unless they find a corpse - according to the law I'm dead if you say you murdered me but you're not a murderer unless I'm dead".

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