Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The House On Telegraph Hill - Marc Bennett's Office

  Following her close call after her car's brakes fail Victoria finds fluid on her garage floor and a pair of her husband Alan's gloves with stains on them.  It all looks very suspicious.  She has her friend Marc send the gloves for analysis and later takes a cab to his office to see the analysis report.

Then ...  The cab pulls up outside Marc Bennett's office, the Crocker flatiron building at One Post Street.

... and Now,  this is the same view today - the view west along Post from near Market Street.


Then ...  As she gets out of the cab we look down the opposite direction along Post and across Market.  The Wells Fargo building is at far left on the corner of Montgomery and the Balboa building is on the corner of 2nd Street across Market.  She is about to enter the Post Street entrance of the Crocker building on the right.

... and Now,  most of these buildings have been replaced, including the classic old Crocker.  The narrow end of the original flatiron building used to be where those trees are.

... an archival photo ...  This circa 1920s photo shows us the Crocker building as it was, taken from across Market at 2nd Street with a receding view along Post.  The proliferation of banks at each corner of this junction led to its nickname of Banker's Corner.

... and Now,  the Crocker building occupied this site from 1890 until it was replaced in 1969 by the Aetna building (below).  Let's pause a moment while CitySleuth wipes away a tear.


Then ...  Inside the lobby Victoria checks the directory but unexpectedly runs into Alan and has to make an excuse and beat an awkward retreat.

... and Now,  with the building gone, even CitySleuth cannot show you the matching view but he can at least offer a substitution from just around the corner, at 111 Sutter Street, in the Hunter-Dulin building, a National Register landmark, built in 1927.  Its restored marble lobby still invokes, as the Crocker did, the intimidating feeling of grandeur to all who enter.

Vertigo - Scottie Can't Sleep

  Perplexed and confused by Madeleine's strange trance-like behavior and by his feelings for her, Scottie has trouble sleeping and wanders around town in the very early hours.

Then ...  In the lower right corner we can just make him out crossing a deserted street at the corner of a city square.

... a vintage photo ...  Any San Franciscan and many tourists will recognize this one - it's Union Square, the heart of the city's downtown hotel and shopping area.  Scottie is crossing Stockton Street on Geary (map).   The 1955 photo below shows us a clearer picture of how it looked back then.  This photo was taken from atop the old City Of Paris Store (it became Nieman Marcus in 1980).

... and Now,  a recent view (below) from the same corner.  To the right, all of the buildings but one on the Post Street block have been replaced but the tall building rising behind them, the Sir Francis Drake hotel, is still there.  That's the St Francis hotel on the left; it opened in 1903 and added its highrise tower in 1972.  The Dewey 'Victory' monument in the center of the square was dedicated in 1903 and survived the devastating 1906 earthquake.  A useful history of Union Square can be seen here.

D.O.A. - Bus Ride

  Bigelow has discovered that Halliday is the one who poisoned him.  He rushes from the Philips' apartment to find him, pursued by Majak and his henchmen.

Then ...  They chase after him but he manages to stay steps ahead and jumps on a downtown bus (click image to enlarge).

... and Now,  CitySleuth is indebted to L.A. sleuth Phil Stufflebean who pointed out this location.  This is the junction of Western Avenue and W. 8th Street in Koreatown, just three blocks from Mrs Philips' apartment (map).  There's still a liquor store on the corner (below) 60 years on!  Old habits die hard.


Then ...  Majak and his cronies don't give up easily - they follow the bus into town.  The roof sign of the Gaylord Apartments behind them indicates that they are driving east into town on Wilshire Blvd.  The Gaylord was built in 1929 as a hotel but had been converted to luxury apartments by the 1940s.  It was across the street from the Ambassador Hotel where Robert F Kennedy was assasinated in 1968.  Back in those days the clubs and joints on this stretch of Wilshire Blvd were the places to be to rub elbows with the Hollywood set.

... and Now,  The apartment building is still there (below), at 3355 Wilshire Blvd in Koreatown (map), now book-ended by newer structures.  The Ambassador Hotel opposite is gone, closed to guests in 1989 and demolished in 2005.


Then ...  Bigelow arrives downtown and jumps off the bus - fortunately for him a couple of policemen at the bus stop tell Majak to move on.  Clifton's Cafeteria can be seen behind them.

... from 1951 ...   The vintage photo taken just a year after the movie's release (below) shows us a clearer view of Clifton's Cafeteria, at 648 Broadway near 7th Street (map).  The Harris & Frank store is next to it -  its rather unusual awning can also be seen above.

... and Now,  the same view today.  Amazingly, Clifton's Cafeteria, opened in 1935, is still doing business in the same spot.  Times change though, today's merchants can only sigh in envy over those long-gone teeming hordes of downtown shoppers

Petulia - The Danner Residence

  CitySleuth had fun finding this one.  There's a flashback in the movie, lasting no more than four seconds where we see Petulia's father-in-law Mr Danner (Joseph Cotten) and his wife in a spectactular living room, presumably at their home.  But where was this house?  There are no clues whatsoever in the movie other than that one brief shot.  But fear not - CitySleuth tracked it down, it's in Sausalito, and he was recently there.

Then ...  The striking feature of the room was this remarkable fanshell window.

... and Now,  the room has to this day remained largely unchanged, obvious exceptions being a window wall in the far right corner and the refinished fireplace hood on the right.

... and Now, from outside,  the house is well-hidden on a hillside but the distinctive window is just visible from the street below.


    CitySleuth is withholding the home's street address to respect owner privacy but a hillside view of the house is shown below.  From its vantage point high above Bridgeway between Atwood Avenue and San Carlos Avenue (map), it enjoys a sweeping view across the Bay towards San Francisco.  The house was originally built in the late 19th century by Melville Attwood, an immigrant mining engineer from England, then remodelled to its present form in 1961 by French architect Walter Nemhauser, a former owner.


    So how was the house found?  Serendipitously the movie DVD's accompanying documentary Petulia: The Uncommon Movie included footage of the film crew setting up in a house "somewhere In the suburbs of San Francisco", according to the narrator.  It's clearly not Petulia's house but CitySleuth surmised it could be the Danner house.  Brief window views in the documentary suggested Sausalito and studying hillside photos of east-facing houses pinpointed the site.

... on location ...  The crew carries massive lighting fixtures into the house along a suspended walkway.

... and Now,  here's the walkway, still there.  Its railing design invokes a marine rope theme.


... on location ...  The lights are then set up above the living room.  This is the window view that led CitySleuth to Sausalito.

... and Now,  the same view, looking south along the Sausalito shoreline (the fanshell window is downstairs at lower left).


... on location ...  Here's director Richard Lester and Joseph Cotten admiring a view of San Francisco across the bay.  They are on the same balcony seen above - note that the little shoreline point matches up, one of the clues in pinpointing the location.


... on location ...  Look at this fascinating shot below - what on earth is that circular hole they are filming through?  (That by the way in the corner is the camera setting up to film the brief movie shot).

... and Now,  it turns out to be the small oculus at the radial 'center' of the fanshell window! (see the window at the top of this post).  The shot above was filmed from the east balcony looking through it across the living room.  Neat.  Here's the matching photo, below, showing some changes to the fireplace.


  It's puzzling why so much cost and effort was expended for a mere four seconds of footage.  Most likely it was filmed as a longer scene (Mrs Danner is speaking in the brief shot but there's no dialog heard) that ended up on the cutting room floor.


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