Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Impact - Bayview Apartments

  Walter Williams (Brian Donlevy), a hardnosed, successful businessman, lives in the Bayview Apartments with his wife Irene (Helen Walker), over whom he shamelessly fawns.  The apartment shows up a number of times throughout the movie.

Then ...  A visitor drives up a steep hill and turns into the apartment courtyard.

... and Now,  the steep hill is Sacramento Street and the apartments are the Brocklebank Apartments at 1000 Mason Street (map), former home of San Francisco's iconic Herb Caen.  Another famous resident of the Brocklebank was the enigmatic Madeleine in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo (seen here).  The Fairmont Hotel is on the right.


Then ...  When the visitor enters the lobby, we wonder if this was filmed inside the Brocklebank?

... and Now,  the answer, based on the real lobby below, is no.  Evidently a studio set was used but some similarities are there - in particular, the corridor with four steps leading from the lobby.  There was an elevator on the right in the movie set (above) but in real life the courtyard is on the other side of this wall.


Then ...  Inside the Williams' apartment, the window view behind Walter is of the Bay Bridge where it meets Yerba Buena Island (map).  This again was a studio set, using a photograph to represent the view.

... and Now,  the east facing windows of the Brocklebank did indeed have a view of the bridge back then, before today's Financial District urban jungle blocked it, but the angle doesn't correspond to the movie view above.  That photo was taken from further north, most likely from Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, like the recent one below.


Then ...  But when we are shown this view looking down to the courtyard from another of the apartment's windows, it's the real thing.

... and Now,  the same view from ground level, unchanged in 60 years but for the lamp-posts.  The building kitty-korner across Mason Street is the Pacific Union Club, also featured in Vertigo as Madeleine's husband's club (see it here).

... The Brocklebank Apartments today ...  This fine 1926 building is testament to the days when class informed architectural design.  It was designed, as too was the nearby Huntington Hotel, by the architects Weeks and Day.

Experiment In Terror - Parking Garage

Then ...  Kelly drives to work, heads down a narrow alley, and pulls into her downtown garage.

... another look ...  Below is another view of the alley seen later in the movie.  Recognizing the building across the street at the end as the distinctive Hallidie Building at 130 Sutter Street led CitySleuth to the garage site, which as it turns out has since been built over.  The 1962 San Francisco street directory revealed that it was the Lick Garage at 55 Lick Place, an alley between Post and Sutter. 

... and Now,  the garage and the alley were demolished in the early 1980s to make way for a shopping mall, the Crocker Galleria (map).  The matching photo below was taken from where the garage would have been - the ground level is a few feet lower and the line of shops on the right side sit astride where the narrow alley, no more than 30 feet wide, used to run.  The Hallidie Building, still there across Sutter Street, is currently hiding behind scaffolding.


A vintage photo ...  This 1950 photograph showed the entrance to Lick Place at Sutter Street.  The classy building on the left is the Hunter-Dulin Building at 111 Sutter.  The alley side of this building is on the right in both of the 'Then'  images above.

 ... and Now,  the Hunter-Dulin Building is still there but the narrow alley and the two-storey building beyond it have been replaced by The Crocker Galleria.


  Here's the 1962 Street Directory entry confirming the address and name of the garage.

Vertigo - Look-alike

  After recovering from his melancholia Scottie drifts around town imagining every blonde he sees is Madeleine.  He can't help himself from revisiting Podesta Baldocchi's flower shop, the same one she had once led him to, at 224 Grant Avenue near Union Square (map).


Then ...  He can't believe what he sees -  a woman in a green dress is walking towards him ... and she's a dead ringer for Madeleine (surprise - also played by Kim Novak).

... and Now,  the same view today looking south from in front of 224 Grant is remarkably similar although not surprisingly the building across the street on the corner of Post Street no longer houses the Rexall's Owl Pharmacy.


Then ...  She pauses with her friends in front of Scottie.  He probably didn't notice that her dress matched those two Podesta Baldocchi vehicles, an example of Hitchcock's detailed attention to color.

... and Now,  the alley across the street is Campton Place.  Shreve and Co. the jewelers occupied the building to the left back then and still does today.


Then ... As she continues on along Grant Scottie finds himself drawn in once again, unable to resist the urge to follow her.

... and Now,  the view today has hardly changed, well ... vehicles excepted.

The Lady From Shanghai - Aquarium

  Elsa sends word to O'Hara to meet in the aquarium.  This would be the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, also filmed 11 years later in the 1958 movie The Lineup.

... in 1968 ...  the Academy, the aquarium is marked by the arrow, is in this 1968 aerial photo, across the concourse from the old DeYoung Museum before both buildings were rebuilt (map).

... in 1948 ...  this is the entrance to Steinhart Aquarium a year after the movie was released, snapped in the central courtyard of the Academy.

... and Now,  the Academy was razed in 2003, completely rebuilt and reopened in 2008 to great acclaim.  The recent photo below of the new $500 million complex was taken from the tower of the DeYoung Museum opposite.


  They meet inside the aquarium - Elsa tells him she is now ready to go away with him.  " I don't care where it is Michael.  Just take me there ... take me quick ... take me!"  (the lady from Shanghai doesn't mince her words).


  Then, for the first time, they kiss.  Pardon the pun, but if he wasn't hooked before, he most certainly is now.


... Then ...  A shoolboy spots the intimate moment and beckons his classmates over.

... in 2003 ...  Here's the same corner taken shortly before the Academy was razed. 

... and Now,  the new aquarium in the rebuilt Academy incorporates the latest tank construction techniques for the ultimate 'you are there' experience.

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