Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Impact - Railroad Depot

  Walter, dazed and groggy after being callously attacked by his wife's lover, aimlessly strikes out on foot.

Then ...  He stumbles upon a rural rairoad depot with a sign reading Junction City.

... in 1970...   disregard the depot's movie name - this was filmed at the Southern Pacific depot at Santa Susana in Southern California, on East Los Angeles Avenue near Tapo Street (map).  Built in 1903, it remained in service until it was closed down in 1963.  The photo below taken in 1970 captured its neglected state seven years after it closed.

... and Now,  determined railway lovers saved the depot from demolition and moved it to a new location, below, not too far away on Katherine Road near Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley (Santa Susana was incorporated into Simi Valley in 1969), where it has been lovingly restored as a museum.  This map shows the depot's original (red marker) and new (blue marker) locations.


Then ...  He asks the station master when the next train leaves for San Francisco but is disappointed to learn it won't be until the next day.

... and Now,  below, the depot today looks exactly as it did then.  More information on the museum is available here.


Then ...  He makes a phone call to check on his attacker who had claimed to be Walter's wife Irene's cousin.  When he discovers he was not a relative at all the whole murder plot becomes clear.  As he leaves the station we see a building across Los Angeles Avenue bearing a partially obscured name - Santa Susana Cafe.

... in the 1930s ...   the vintage photo below, most likely from the 1930s, shows this same cafe, then known as Long's Place. To its left, visible also in the movie view above, was Hinkle's Place, a saloon run by teetotaler Clark Hinkle.

... and Now,  not there any more, the cafe and saloon used to be where Xpress Lube at 4560 East Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley now sits.

... in 1940 ...   this photo, looking southeast across the Santa Susana airport, serendipitously included the depot (large arrow) and the cafe and saloon opposite (small arrow).  (The airport has since been suburbanized and the street that replaced the runway is called ... Runway Street).

Experiment In Terror - Night Club

  Kelly's tormentor gets word to her to meet her at a night club in town, threatening to target her younger sister Toby if she doesn't.  The police monitor the call and encourage her to go - they carefully prepare an operation to keep watch inside and outside the club, hoping to pounce.

  The night club is Varni's Roaring Twenties, a real club in 1962 at 807 Montgomery Street (map).  (Not to be confused with the present-day Roaring Twenties club on Broadway).  Below, Ripley preps his team using the actual floor plans of the club.


Then ...  The police watch from their parked car as Kelly drives her Ford onto a corner gas station lot right next to the brightly bordered club.  This view looks north up Montgomery from Jackson in the Jackson Square neighborhood.

...  and Now,  that gas station has since been demolished and built over. Trees hide the site of the club from this angle but a few doors up, at 847 Montgomery we can recognise the building that used to house Ernie's restaurant, extensively featured four years earlier in the movie Vertigo (see it here).


Then ...  She parks her car and walks past a circular stained-glass window and enters the club under the watchful eye of Agent Ripley.

...  and Now,  the club building currently houses the law offices of Arnold Laub and the circular stained-glass windows that used to be on either side of the entrance have been replaced with conventional ones.

... in 1964 ...  the vintage photo below shows how the club looked when the movie was filmed.  An image of a girl on a swing was above each round window. 

...  and Now,  compare it with the Laub building today.  At least those two stubbed-off protrusions below the left window survived the exterior remodel.


Then ...  Kelly has never seen the face of her tormentor so she anxiously waits to be contacted.  The circular window at upper left is the one on the left in the 1964 photo above.  There's a bar beyond the curtain to the right and revellers are seen looking over a railing at left - the club's first floor wrapped around an area open to the basement level below.

...  and Now,  taken from about the same spot on the first floor looking towards the entrance, the photo below shows an interior made over into office space.  In particular the open well has been floored over and a row of offices added along the wall on the right where the bar used to be. 


Then ...  The club was known for its 'Girl On A Swing'.  Lightly clad (by the mid 60s, unclad) ladies swung back and forth within the open well area.  They are filmed, below, looking up to the first floor railings from the downstairs level.

...  and Now,  with the first floor now covering the open well the resulting ceiling visible from the same spot downstairs blocks the matching view.  Coincidentally, this same club was featured six years later in the 1968 movie Petulia (see it here).


    A man (Al Avalon) follows her out of the club and she assumes he must be her stalker.  As we shall soon find out, he isn't ...

Vertigo - Resurrection

  Scottie continues dating Judy but he has a definite agenda in mind ...  when they stop at one of San Francisco's many downtown flower stands he suddenly informs her he wants to buy her some clothes.


Then ...  He firmly guides her across the road to Ransohoffs, the swanky downtown ladies clothes store.  Reflected in the window above, and through the flower stand below, we can see a Florsheim Shoes store on the corner.

... and Now,  this is on Post Street, a half block from Union Square (map).  There's still a flower stand at the same spot but Florsheim's, on the corner of Stockton Street, is now Johnston & Murphy.  Ransohoffs, at 259 Post, closed in 1976 and until recently was another ladies clothes store, Escada.  The site is currently vacant.  Note too that the one way traffic has been reversed.


    In Ransohoffs (filmed on a recreated studio soundstage) Scottie seems to know what he wants.  He picks out a grey suit just like the one that Madeleine used to wear and, against her uneasy protests but intent on making her over, persuades Judy to wear similar shoes and have her hair dyed blonde.


Then ... While she is at the hairdressers he returns to her room at the Empire Hotel (described earlier here) and anxiously awaits her return.

... and Now,  CitySleuth explained in an earlier post how director Hitchcock shot the hotel room scenes on a studio soundstage, basing its layout on the Empire's room 401 except that he reversed the layout.  Below is the matching, reversed photo from room 401 of the hotel today (now the Hotel Vertigo).


Then ...  Judy returns, watched by Scottie from the doorway of her room (again, filmed on a studio set).  But something isn't quite right - he doesn't like the way she is wearing her hair.

... and Now,  the corridor outside the real room 401.


  "Please, Judy" - he implores her to put her hair up.  She does so, behind the closed bathroom door, and again he waits, on tenterhooks.  Bernard Herrmann's suspenseful music rises to a haunting crescendo and she emerges, ghostlike, an apparition.  Madeleine is resurrected.

The Lady From Shanghai - O'Hara's Trial

  O'Hara is tried for the double murder of Sydney Broome and George Grisby in San Francisco's Hall Of Justice.  He is defended by Elsa's husband Bannister who is famous for never having lost a case in his entire career.

Then ...  The movie's interior courtroom scene shows the distinctive arched windows of the Hall Of Justice.

... from a vintage photo ...  This undated photo of a Hall of Justice courtroom matches the movie scene almost exactly so it would appear that the scene was indeed filmed in the Hall of Justice.

... in 1958 ...  A good view of the exterior of the Hall Of Justice building isn't seen in this movie but, 11 years later in the 1958 movie The Lineup, it is seen looking as it did to Orson Welles and his crew.  It was at 750 Kearny Street, on the corner of Washington, facing Portsmouth Square (map).

... and Now,  the original building with its distinctive fan shaped window arches was razed in 1967 and replaced by a high-rise hotel, the Hilton San Francisco Financial District (below).  The city's law enforcement headquarters had moved to 850 Bryant Street (map) in the early 1960s, where it still is.


  Elsa visits O'Hara in his jail cell - he expresses concern over Bannister's intentions, not trusting him for fear he was aware of their amorous meetings.  Check out that fine view to the Bay Bridge from his cell window (just as if ...)


Then ...  This same window view is seen a number of times during the courthouse action, the example below is from the courtroom.  But this is a backdrop using a photo taken from the Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill looking down Sacramento Streeet, and in the bottom left corner we can see (arrowed) ... the Hall Of Justice itself!

... and Now,  decades of Financial District development has dramatically altered today's view from the Fairmont.  The arrow points to the hotel on the site of the old Hall Of Justice.


  The trial does not go well for the defendant and as they await the jury's decision Bannister admits to O'Hara that "this is one case I've enjoyed losing" and pointedly, satisfyingly, tells the recipient of his wife's ardor "I know you're going to the gas chamber".

Then ...  But O'Hara suddenly grabs Bannister's medication pills and swallows them, creating a chaotic courtroom reaction during which he manages to make his escape.  Below, he runs from the courthouse (that's it on the left) into Kearny Street and heads towards Portsmouth Square opposite.

... and Now,   The view looks south down Kearny with Portsmouth Square off to the right.  Note that the restaurant straight ahead on the corner of Merchant advertised 'Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner' then (above) and still does now, six decades on.  That's a lot of meals.

Click in this box to search this site ...