Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

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.

The House On Telegraph Hill - Runaway Car

  Victoria heads to the nearby market in her car unaware that she is about to suffer a terrifying experience - her brakes suddenly fail and she finds herself speeding out of control.  It couldn't have happened in a worse place given that she lives near the top of Telegraph Hill.  The runaway car travels entirely on Telegraph Hill streets except for one cut to Russian Hill.  Below is a map (click on it to enlarge) showing the eight locations leading up to the crash site.


And here, in Then and Now format, is how the runaway car sequence unfolded...


  As she crests the hill shown above, her brakes give out on her and there's nothing she can do about it...

Continuing on ...


  With the end of the cul-de-sac rushing towards her, this doesn't look good.  How will it end?  Will Victoria survive?  Why did the brakes fail?  Citysleuth intends to keep you all in suspense until the next post ...


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Vertigo - Communing With The Redwoods

  Scottie and Madeleine decide to go 'wandering' together.  They drive to the redwoods, a scene many think was filmed in Muir Woods, 16 miles north of San Francisco.  Not so; they went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 70 miles south of San Francisco, not very far from director Hitchcock's 200 acre ranch near Scotts Valley.


Then ...  Madeleine's Jaguar enters the bottom of the frame on its way to the redwoods.

...  and Now,  This is Highway 9, 4.8 miles southwest of Skyline Boulevard (map).  It is indeed the way to Big Basin, about 10 miles further on along Highways 9 and 236 (map).  Citysleuth had to rappel down a steep hillside to find a gap in the trees for this matching shot.  A half century of tree growth now hides most of the roadway - check out too how the tiny tree on the sloping horizon right of center, above, has grown, below.


  The park sequence that followed was created by skillfully combining both location and studio footage.  Here's a map of the park (click on it to enlarge) with arrows showing where to find the movie locations described below.


Then ...  At the park they walk to the majestic Father Of The Forest tree, a giant Sequoia Redwood on the Redwood Trail (below, center).  Note its distinctive vertical hook branch some forty feet up on the left side.

...  and Now,  viewed from the same spot today the tree is mostly hidden behind new foreground trees...

...  and Now,  ... but here's a closer view of the old-timer showing the same hook branch.


Then ...  They stand in awe, dwarfed by the ancient giant.  Scottie tells Madeleine the tree is more than 2000 years old, 'always green, ever living'.  Trance-like, she reverts to Carlotta and is disturbed, "knowing I have to die".

...  and Now,  not surprisingly the venerable tree has hardly changed in a mere half century - the bark features still match up.


Then ...  She walks over to a redwood cross-section showing its growth history by date and points out where she was born and where she died.  Spooky.

...  and Now,  the closeup footage above was filmed in the studio but there is a 'Redwood Round' displayed in the park next to the visitor center, below.  It replaced an older round in the 1980's and as we can see, its date markings differ from those in the movie.

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