Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lady From Shanghai - Jailhouse Lament

  O'Hara is in jail and laments his predicament in voiceover.  "The wrong man was arrested, the wrong man was shot.  Grisby was dead and so was Broome.  And what about Bannister?  He was going to defend me in a trial for my life, and me charged with a couple of murders I did not commit.  Either me or the rest of the whole world is absolutely insane".

  While he laments we are shown two city vistas - a reminder that we are now in San Francisco - and then we see Elsa driving to the jailhouse ....

Then ...  First, a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, beloved by all who visit and also by the directors who used similar views in the movies Dark Passage and Vertigo (see them here and here).

... and Now ,  taken from the south end of the bridge in the Presidio (map).  Fort Point is in the lower foreground in both views. 


Then ...  The second vista looks west over Cow Hollow and the Marina district towards the distant Golden Gate Bridge.  The fortunate inclusion of the distinctive foreground chimney enabled CitySleuth to find this location.  It's the rooftop of 1360 Jones Street, a classy 1920s apartment building in Nob Hill (map).

... and Now,  the view from alongside the same chimney 64 years later is virtually identical except that the gasworks right of center has been dismantled.  (It used to occupy the block behind the Marina Safeway store).  The golden dome belongs to the Palace of Fine Arts.

... a vintage photo ... here's a 1955 photo taken from the Top 'O The Mark at Nob Hill's Mark Hopkins hotel showing the 1360 Jones building (arrowed) from which the views above were taken.

... and Now,  here's 1360 Jones, looking east down the cable car tracks on Washington.


Then ...  O'Hara laments on as Elsa drives up a steep hill.  She's in the head-turning 1946 Lincoln Continental V-12 convertible seen earlier in the movie when she was in New York.

... and Now,  this is Sacramento Street, viewed from Mason (map).  The Fairmont hotel is on the right and the Brocklebank Apartments on the left.  This exact location was used two years later in the movie Impact (see it here).


Then ...  She turns and passes the courtyard of the Brocklebank Apartments, at 1000 Mason.  In the movie Vertigo, Kim Novak's character Madeleine resided here (see it then).

... and Now,  the courtyard today.


Then ...  She continues on, north down Mason.  The twin-towered church on Broadway down on the left is Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, built in 1912 to serve the local catholic community.

... and Now,  there are some changes in this recent view.  An obtrusively jarring apartment highrise, the Royal Towers at 1750 Taylor, has appeared on the left (bad) but the gasworks at the bottom of Mason are gone (good).  The church is still there, now housing a Chinese language school.

Petulia - A Bittersweet Goodbye

  Months have passed and Petulia and David have reconciled, so much so that she is about to give birth to their child, in the same hospital where she first saw Archie.

Then ...  The hospital is the California Pacific Medical Center at 3801 Sacramento Street in the Pacific Heights/Laurel Heights neighborhood (map).  Throughout this movie, director Lester seemed to have a thing about nuns as in this shot showing two of them entering the main door.

... and Now,  the same entrance today, looking west down Sacramento.


  Archie stops by to see Petulia outside the delivery room.  He impetuously proposes spiriting her off to a private hospital so they could be together again ... she agrees ... he picks up the phone ... a change of heart ... and instead they reluctantly bid adieu.


Then ...  David enters the lobby to join Petulia scant seconds before Archie leaves - they barely miss each other, two ships passing in the night.  The two houses seen through the glass doors are across Sacramento Street.

... and Now,  of those two houses, the Tudor-styled one on the left is still there but the one on the right has been replaced with a newer building.


Then ...  A passing group of attractive young women catches Archie's eye - well, after all, he is once again unattached - and the camera pans up the exterior facade of the hospital.

... and Now,  the recent matching view.


    The movie ends with this closeup of Petulia in the delivery room as she is about to be put under.  She touches the doctor's hand and murmurs " Archie? ... ".  He may be gone from her life, but, it seems, never from her mind.

The Sniper - Hangups

  After the shock of seeing Miller aim his rifle at an unsuspecting woman the audience is introduced to the possible causes of his hangups in this next scene, filmed entirely on the Columbia Ranch, the original back lot for Columbia Pictures, in Burbank (map).

  Below, a layout of the Columbia Ranch as it was shows the locations of the ensuing action.  The ranch is today owned by Warner Brothers and is now known as the Warner Ranch.


Then ...  Miller walks past a cinema and overhears a passing girl tell her friend she has ditched her boyfriend.  We get the impression he's been on the receiving end of that situation himself.

... on the back lot ...  Here's where this clip was filmed (on Brownstone Street, location 1 on the map above).  The cinema, with the same 'Shorts - News' sign on the marquee, is over to the right.  Note the huge lights on the top of the street facade.


He walks down the street and witnesses a mother smacking her disobedient child (a public scene not uncommon in the 1950s).  Clearly, it brings back unhappy memories.


Then ...  He comes to a park full of canoodling couples, a sight he seems to abhor.  Next to him is a fountain - at location 2 on the map above.  Note the building behind him (marked by a yellow dot on the map).

... on the back lot ...  below is a back lot photo of that same building, known as the Park Boulevard Apartments.  The park is off to the left of the picture.

... on the back lot ...  here's an overview of the park, including the fountain, taken in 1964.  On a trivia note, this same fountain was featured during the opening credits each week of the Friends TV series.


Then ...  Miller continues on, feeling down on his luck.  This is location 3 on the map above, again on Brownstone Street but at the other end, near Skid Row.

... on the back lot ...  the capture below, from a 1949 Batman and Robin TV episode filmed on the lot, shows a closer look at the buildings seen above behind Miller.  (CitySleuth is indebted to an excellent Columbia Ranch website for these images).


    Later we get to see just how troubled Miller really is when, in a moment of self-inflicted punishment, he holds his hand against an electric range burner.  His subsequent visit to a doctor will turn out to be pivotal to the denouement of the story.

Impact - "Meet me in Sausalito"

  Walter is looking forward to a trip to Tahoe with his wife Irene.  To save him returning to San Francisco that day from a meeting in San Rafael she suggests they meet up "in Sausalito ... there's a drugstore on the corner opposite the square".

Then ...  the camera pan gives us a good look at the drugstore, Rexall's, at 690 Bridgeway and El Portal Street, below the Hotel Sausalito and close by the Sausalito ferry terminal (map).

... and Now,  the Mission-Revival styled Sausalito Hotel is still there, in fact, since 1915.  One of the pair of elephant statues alongside the compact Vina Del Mar park can be seen to the left - brought there in 1915 from San Francisco's Panama-Pacific Exposition.


Then ...  Walter pulls up in his Packard roadster and crosses over to the drugstore to wait for Irene.

... and Now,  more than 60 years on it's no surprise that all of the stores' tenants have changed.  The drugstore is now a Fine Arts gallery.


Then ...  Irene doesn't show up so Walter goes into the store and calls her. 

... and Now,  the phone scene was filmed in a studio with a background photo of the San Francisco skyline across the bay.  Here's the same skyline today taken just steps from the store.  It spans Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill at far left to the Marina Green at far right where the lone highrise on the skyline is the apartment building at 2500 Steiner at Jackson.


  Irene (Helen Walker) tells him she can't join him because of a toothache but asks him to go anyway and take along her cousin Jim who needs a ride across country.  Walter hasn't met Jim but, because it's she who must be obeyed, he agrees.


Then ...  'Cousin Jim' Torrence (Tony Barrett) is really Irene's lover so we fear for the worst when he shows up to meet Walter, below, outside the store at the edge of the bay.  (CitySleuth's mind boggles - how can Irene, who has everything in Walter ... a doting husband ... the trappings of wealth, fall for a loser like this?  Welcome to the wonderful world of noir!)

... and Now,  the imposing hoist is gone and instead we see the ferry docking pier.  The background, as above, shows Belvedere on the left and Angel Island on the right.


Then ...  Walter and Torrence exit El Portal Street and begin the drive east.  The stores opposite include a bank on the right at 715 Bridgeway and that's a clock (a closer look is shown below) hanging from the bank's vertical sign.

... and Now,  the traffic on El Portal now flows the other way and that building still houses a bank, Wells Fargo.




Then ...  Here's a closer look at the bank's clock outside 715 Bridgeway.  Note the pair of globe light fixtures below it ...

... and Now, ... there are still globe fixtures on either side of the stairway but the bank sign has been replaced by a smaller Wells Fargo sign and the clock is gone.

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