Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

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.

Experiment In Terror - Crocker-Anglo Bank

  Kelly works as a bank teller at Crocker-Anglo Bank at One Montgomery Street in the Financial District (map).  Below, center, she prepares for the first customers of the day.


Then ... The bank has a novel clock built into the marble steps at the Montgomery Street entrance in which the 12 letters of the bank name are used as the numbers.

... and Now,  the clock is still there, with a more conventional face and a protective bannister.


Then ... As the customers stream in past the clock and up the steps we see a panorama of the majestic columned interior with a glimpse of Lick Place alley through the windows on the west wall. The tellers are in a line on the left - Kelly sat between the second and third free-standing columns from the west wall, marked by the arrow.

... and Now,  the bank is now a Wells Fargo branch but the line of tellers are still in the same place.  Note the windows have been filled in since the alley was replaced by the Crocker Galleria mall (described earlier here).  Note too the extra lamps on the columns, an effective addition illuminating the decorative ceiling.


    History buffs will enjoy this December 1925 Christmas photo of Santa Claus taken in the bank, most likely organized for families of Crocker employees.  (Courtesy


... a vintage photo ...  The photo below, looking down Post from across Market Street, was taken in 1979 and shows the bank building, on the right, as it looked when the movie was filmed.

... and Now,  the top ten floors were removed in 1983 to circumvent the prohibitive expense of earthquake reinforcement.  The remaining majestic two stories gained a public roof garden as part of the deal that allowed developers to build, in 1982, the Crocker Galleria and the Post Montgomery Center tower next to the bank along Post Street.


  ... the rooftop garden is popular with local workers and Crocker Galleria visitors for snacks and relaxation.  This deserted view of it on a wet day looks across Montgomery Street at the Hobart Building.

Vertigo - Empire Hotel

Then ...  Unaware she is being stalked, the woman leads Scottie along Sutter Street, here passing a beauty salon at 916 Sutter and the tailor/cleaners at 920, between Leavenworth and Hyde.

... and Now,  these two addresses currently belong to Dolce, a cafe, and Bellissimo Pizza.


  A few steps on she enters the Empire Hotel at 940 Sutter (map), where she has a room.  He watches from across the street as she opens her window, alongside the letter P  in the vertical sign.


Then ...  Which room is this?  When Hitchcock's camera scans the hotel (below) we see that it was the second one up on the left, which today is room 401.  (In a later scene the same letter P is visible outside the window from the interior, further confirming room 401).

... a few years ago ...  the Empire was subsequently renamed the York Hotel, seen in this 2004 photo.

... and Now,  the hotel has since been acquired by new owners and is now called (guess what?) the Hotel Vertigo.  The exterior, new paint aside, retains the same look.


Then ...  Scottie is compelled to meet this woman and brings himself to knock on the door of her room.

... and Now,  the corridor above was a studio set but Hitchcock often based his reconstructions on real locations and sure enough the actual corridor has the same feel (below), although the door at left is a few doors down from room 401.


Then ...  He talks his way in and finds out that her name is Judy Barton, a sales clerk who works at Magnin's in town.  Anxious to find out more about her, he persuades her to let him take her out later for dinner.  (On a trivia note, Kim Novak later said it was a relief wearing this dress with no bra after being straitjacketed for so long in Madeleine's constraining grey suit).

... and Now,  the room scenes were filmed on a studio set based on room 401's layout except that Hitchcock decided to flip it so that the entry was on the left side, not the right.  A photo of today's room 401 is shown below, flipped to demonstrate the similarity - the bathroom (behind the mirrored closet) relative to the entrance location matches the layout in the movie.


  After Scottie leaves, Hitchcock boldly reveals the murder plot to the audience - Judy in flashback recalls her climb, impersonating Madeleine, into the bell tower where Elster was waiting, ready to hurl his already dead wife, the real Madeleine, from the tower.  From here on the only person not in the know is Scottie.


  By the way, guests at the Hotel Vertigo today are treated to the continuously running Vertigo movie on a screen behind the check-in desk.

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