Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lady From Shanghai - Errol Flynn and the yacht Circe

  O'Hara joins Elsa and her husband Bannister as a crewmember on their voyage to San Francisco by way of Acapulco.  O'Hara, in voiceover, admits "Well, it's clear now I was chasin' a married woman, but that's not the way I want you to look at it".  The yacht is named Circe, after the Greek goddess who was described by Homer as 'the loveliest of all immortals' and who turned her enemies into animals using magic potions.  In other words a femme fatale.  Below, O'Hara steers the yacht while Elsa, in saucy nautical garb, looking extremely femme and certainly not (well, not yet) fatale, relaxes with her pet dog.

 

  While scouting locations in Acapulco Orson Welles had met Errol Flynn who happened to be there with his recently acquired luxury yacht Zaca.  Welles contracted to use the Zaca for the two month movie shoot.  Flynn captained the yacht himself - one can only imagine what life aboard must have been like with these two renowned high-living, hell-raising, larger-than-life characters.  Incidentally, Elsa's dog seen above was Flynn's pet dachshund.  During filming, on October 17 1946, Welles and Errol Flynn (with second wife Norah Eddington, below) celebrated Rita Hayworth's 28th birthday on board the Zaca.

  And here's a color photo of the debonair Mr. Flynn taken in the same cabin.

 

  Coincidentally, the Zaca, a 118 foot gaff-rigged schooner, was built at the Nunes Brothers boatyard which will be seen later in the movie when the storyline moves on to Sausalito.  In 1959 Errol Flynn, prematurely aged by a life of excess, died of a heart attack at age 50 in Vancouver while he was trying to sell his yacht to a Canadian businessman.  He must have taken with him many happy memories of his time aboard the Zaca, reportedly his pride and joy, seen below under full sail.

 

  After Flynn's death the yacht deteriorated badly over the years then underwent a stem-to-stern 'money-no-object'  resurrection by the Italian art patron Roberto Memmo making her one of the most spectacular yachts in the Mediterranean, with a Picasso hanging in her salon.  Check out excerpts from the video documentary 'In The Wake Of The Zaca' by Luther Greene telling the full story of the yacht's fascinating birth, life and rebirth here.

 

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D.O.A. - The Philips' Apartment

  Bigelow doesn't buy Halliday's story that Philips had committed suicide.  He goes to Eugene Philips' apartment (below) and threatens to kill Mrs Philips if she doesn't come clean about her husband's suicide.  She blurts out that in fact her lover Halliday had pushed him over her balcony when Philips confronted them about their affair, this after Halliday had framed Phillips, telling the police he had stolen the iridium.  Because Bigelow had a copy of a bill of sale proving Philips' innocence, Halliday had poisoned him.  Bigelow now knows his murderer's name.

 

Then ...   As they struggle on the balcony we get a good look at the view outside, it looks across a park with a large tower and building in the distance.  But this apartment scene was filmed on a studio set using a background photo to set the location.  So where is this view from?

... a vintage photo ...  It turns out this is the view across Lafayette Park looking west down Wilshire Blvd in the Westlake neighborhood towards the Bullock's Wilshire tower and the Town House hotel .  Below is a circa 1940 photo of this precise view.  The Philips' balcony view photo was taken from very close to this same spot.

... and Now ,  here's the same view today taken at street level alongside Lafayette Park (map).  Built as a luxury hotel in 1929 , the Town House has since been converted to low-income housing units.  The art deco department store and tower, also dating from 1929, is now part of the Law School of Southwestern University but still displays Bullocks Wilshire name plaques on the outside.

 

 

 

Then ...   When Bigelow leaves the building he runs into Majak and his thugs coming after him to avenge the death of Chester. Here they are, below, in front of the Philips apartment building.

... an undated photo,  this is the Chateau Chaumont, 855 S. Serrano Avenue, corner of 9th Street in Koreatown (map).  Below is a photo of the building which turns out to be over a mile away from where the window view photo was taken.  The 6-story multi-family structure was built in 1929 in a French Renaissance style.  CitySleuth thanks fellow sleuth Phil Stufflebean for finding it.

... and Now ,  it's remarkably unchanged (below), including the low flagstone planter walls.  The same cannot be said of the apartments' sales prices, currently around $650,000 for a 2 bed, 2 bath unit.

 

Then ...   He peeks out from inside the garage archway before making his getaway, giving us a good look at a classy house across the street.

... and Now ,  this is the house (below), opposite the Chateau Chaumont.  It too looks just as it did back then.

Woman On The Run - Amusement Park

  After leaving the coroner's office Eleanor tells Leggett she had fainted from relief because the stiff in fact was not her husband Frank.  What's more she has now solved the riddle in his letter - he is waiting to meet her at an amusement park at the beach.  Without delay they hop in a cab and head right over.

Then ...  They are dropped off at the amusement park outside a theater - the Dome - where the 1950 movie The Big Lift starring Montgomery Clift was playing.

... from a vintage photo ...  this is the Dome theater at the Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica, Southern California, seen in an undated photo.  Supposedly in Carmel per the script, the final scenes in the movie were actually all filmed here, not at San Francisco's Playland At The Beach as some have claimed.  Ocean Park Pier is no longer in existence so CitySleuth has resorted to vintage photos to authenticate the locations.

 

  Ocean Park Pier extended far out into the sea a little south of Santa Monica Pier.  First opened in 1919 it was rebuilt in 1926 after a major fire.  In 1958, 8 years after Woman On The Run was filmed there, it was renamed Pacific Ocean Park, aka POP.  POP closed in 1967 and after sitting forlornly vacant through the early 70's was demolished in 1975 following another major fire.

Then ...  an aerial view of Pacific Ocean Park in its heyday (1963)

... and Now,  a satellite view of the site today.  The pier jutted out to sea from where the road at upper center curves back (the parking lot at left is the only common feature in the two images).  The beach has since recaimed the site but warning signs still ban swimming here because of underwater obstructions from the detritus of the old pier.

 

  The denouement of the story is about to take place.  In filming it, director Norman Foster has left for us valuable rare footage of a long-gone early 20th century entertainment park beloved by generations of families, much as Don Siegel did with San Francisco's Sutro's Baths in the 1958 movie The Lineup.

 

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The House On Telegraph Hill - Crash Site

  The brakes have failed on Victoria's car and after a wild ride careening down the steep streets of Telegraph Hill she runs out of options when she turns into the Montgomery Street cul-de-sac between Union and Green - there is no place to go, the end of the road is directly ahead (map).

 

 

Then ... She swerves hard left and her car flips over onto its side.

...  and Now,  the blue and white house in the center, below, is 1227 Montgomery Street.  It was featured as the home of Donald Sutherland's character in the 1978 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers where he discovers clones of himself and his friends forming in pods in his garden.  At far left at the end of the cul-de-sac is the top of the Montgomery steps, featured in the 1952 movie The Sniper (see that here).

 

Then ...  Fortuitously Victoria lands in a pile of sand and for the second time in the movie narrowly escapes injury.  Trivia but tragic -  the actor who comes to her aid (Charles Wagonheim, kneeling below), was murdered years later in his Hollywood apartment in 1979 when he was 83.

...  and Now,  1227 Montgomery, alongside Montague Place, now has an added garage with a patio built over it.

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