Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

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.

Impact - "From Irene And Me, Sucker"

  During their drive east in Walter's car through the Sierra Mountains, Irene's lover Torrence attacks Walter and leaves him for dead.

Then ...  Here we see them driving past a substantial retaining wall with minimal protection from a precipitous drop.

... and Now,  it was a lot more convenient for the film crew to choose the nearby Angeles National Forest area north of Pasadena for this shot.  It's on Mount Wilson Red Box Road, 3.0 miles from the junction with the Angeles Crest Highway and 2.0 miles from the observatory (map).  In the recent photo below we can see the retaining structure has held up amazingly well these last 64 years but it still has a very low wall along the side of the road.

  You might wonder how CitySleuth tracked down this location?  While watching TV he was astonished to see a Mercedes Benz commercial with ... hallelujah ... a shot of the same place!  Whadayaknow!  A few phone calls and emails later, the location was revealed.  Here is that image from the commercial, beautifully captured by professionals in the magic light of dawn in July, 2011.


Then ...  They continue along another stretch of mountain road.

... and Now,  CitySleuth is pretty sure this was filmed on the Angeles Crest Highway which snakes up from the lowlands to the Mount Wilson location described above through terrain just like this.  He can't be 100% certain but this curve is very similar.


   Torrence had earlier let air out of one of the tires and when it goes flat he pulls over.  While Walter replaces the wheel Torrence, snarling "From Irene and me, sucker", thwacks him with a lug wrench and dumps him over the roadside edge, leaving him for dead.

  He then frantically drives off when a passing Bekins van stops and in his haste meets an approaching gas tanker head-on.  The ensuing explosion reduces him to toast, a punitively fitting end to a thoroughly bad apple.


Then ...  Walter, however, survives the ordeal and staggers back to the road.  He climbs in the back of the van just as it drives off and, some time later, hops off at Vera's rest stop in Nevada (below) where he reads in a newspaper of his reported death.  The authorities, not knowing of Torrence, have assumed it was Walter who died in the car crash.

... and Now,  This may have been a real place or it may have been filmed on a studio back lot.  Either way, if any reader can shed light on it, please contact CitySleuth.


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Experiment In Terror - Dead Mannequin

  Agent Ripley gets a call from another woman, Nancy Ashton (Patricia Huston), who claims she has a friend whose life may be in danger.  She wants him to come to her place as soon as possible and the fear in her voice persuades him to do so.  She waits for him, surrounded by a bizarre specter - disjointed and hanging mannequins that she works on at home.  This may not bode well ...


Then ...  Ripley and fellow agent Brad (Roy Poole) pull up outside her apartment.

... and Now,  they were at 2632 Larkin Street, between Lombard and Chestnut (map), a short block and a half from the well-known 'crooked street' on Russian Hill.  The view looks south towards Lombard.


Then ...  Their sharply angled view of the house accentuates its elegantly bowed windows.

... and Now,  the house hasn't changed, even the curvilinear window panes are the same.


Then ...  A diversion - Frank Bullitt's 390GT fastback Mustang drove right past this house six years later during the famous car chase in the movie Bullitt (in the capture below, the arrow points to the house).

... and Now,  a recent view of the same block.



  Where were we?  Oh yes ... unfortunately, Kelly Sherwood's tormentor as beaten the agents to it and they find Nancy Ashton as lifeless as the mannequins hanging alongside her.


Then ...  When an ambulance is called we get a glimpse of the house next door.


... and Now,  in this wider view of 2632 Larkin that neighboring house is currently being replaced andhas just been demolished.

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