Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Experiment In Terror - The Search for Red Lynch

  The FBI has come up with a suspect with an asthmatic affliction and a modus operandi similar to Kelly's extortionist.

Then ...  At the Hall of Justice the FBI agents are briefed on the suspect - Red Lynch.  This room appears to be a studio set using, for the window view, a photo backdrop of the Mark Hopkins Hotel atop Nob Hill.

... and Now,  the Mark Hopkins, at One Nob Hill (map), on the same skyline today, taken from the Hilton hotel which replaced the Hall of Justice at Portsmouth Square.


Then ...  Agents fan out across town looking for someone who might recognise Red Lynch's mug shot and know where he's to be found.  Here they are about to hop off a cable car cresting the Hyde Street hill at Lombard Street on Russian Hill (map), with Alcatraz and Angel Island in the background. 

... and Now,  thankfully, the Powell-Hyde cable cars still climb this hill, indeed what would San Francisco be without them?  The car wheels at left in both Then and Now images show that safe parking on the city's steep hills have been second nature to San Franciscans for a long time.


 Then ...  The camera swings right as the agent walks towards the top of the famous crooked street section of Lombard Street, probably oblivious of the best Coit Tower vista in town.

... and Now,  tourists' cars continually navigate the eight switchbacks installed in 1922 to tame the block's 27 degree slope.


Then ...  The agents are next seen near the St Francis Yacht Club with a view across the yacht harbor to  Marina Boulevard (map).  A very similar shot was seen 11 years earlier in the 1951 movie The House On Telegraph Hill (see that here).

... and Now,  new berths are being built in this recent photo of the same view - at far left are the sheds of the old US Army post at Fort Mason. To their right is Coit Tower and the skyline of Russian Hill.


Then ...  Agent Ripley enters a church, St Francis of Assisi at 610 Vallejo Street in North Beach (map).

... and Now,  the church looks just the same - sidewalk trees prevent a full matching shot but here's the entrance.

... and Now,  from across the street.



  Inside the church Ripley strikes it lucky.  The priest has seen Red Lynch many times with one of his parishioners.

Vertigo - Carlotta's Necklace

  After Judy's transformation she and Scottie decide to eat out - she fancies Ernie's but he suggests they head out of town.  She becomes increasingly nervous as the miles rack up ... what she doesn't know is that when she had changed to go out Scottie had recognized her necklace as matching the one that Carlotta wore in the portrait (see that earlier post here).  He now knows that she had been impersonating Madeleine and tells her "there's one final thing I have to do, and then I'll be free of the past".


Then ...  We see them on the same stretch of road as earlier when Scottie had driven Madeleine to the mission at San Juan Bautista (see that here).

...  and Now,  the same view, looking south down Highway 101 just south of the 156 East turn-off to San Juan Bautista.


Then ...  He arrives at the San Juan Bautista mission and drags her towards the bell tower.  By now she knows he's on to her and, scared, tries to resist, but to no avail.

...  and Now,  this footage was filmed on a studio sound stage but the mockup was closely based on the real cloisters, seen below in this recent photo.


  Scottie knows that if he makes it to the top of the tower (he had failed the first time and watched helplessly as Madeleine fell to her death) then his vertigo affliction will be cured.  In an incredibly dramatic denouement he forces Judy up the vertiginous stairs (also filmed on a studio set), getting her to confess on the way.  They make it to the top where, as she clings to him, professing her love, she sees something move.  A step backwards, a scream, and she is gone.


  It was a just a nun who had followed them.  The movie ends with Scottie staring down in disbelief at the loss, for the second time, of his beloved Madeleine.

The Lady From Shanghai - On The Lam - Portsmouth Square

  Taking advantage of the courtroom commotion O'Hara flees from the Hall of Justice.

Then ...  He rushes across Kearny Street and into Portsmouth Square (map), the birthplace of the city in that the American flag was first raised here in 1846, in the plaza of the Mexican town of Yerba Buena, by Capt. John Montgomery of the USS Portsmouth.  The square was named after the ship.  Note the simple elegance of the square then, conforming to the natural grade.  In 1873 the first cable car in America climbed the Clay Street hill seen in the background.

... and Now,  the rebuilt square, at the behest of the Chinatown community, is now a split-level park with multi-level parking below it.  Yes, it's a community gathering place now and it helped deal with the pressing parking problem but did it have to end up so cluttered, an urban eyesore?


Then ...  From a courthouse window Elsa sees O'Hara bolt across the square.  In the center of the square we see the 1897 monument to the memory of Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson who had lived for a time in San Francisco.

... in 1941 ...  here's a closer look at the monument in a vintage photo.

... and Now,  the monument, with its billowing golden sails, is still there (below), a mollification of the historically-minded opponents of the parking garage project, but it was moved over to the west side of the square.

    Those of you who are historically inclined will enjoy this terrific 1906 photo showing the monument (foreground, left of center) and the post-earthquake remains of the 'original' Hall of Justice; it was subsequently replaced in 1910 by the 'old' Hall of Justice, the one seen in this movie. 


Then ...  Elsa pursues him through the square - the monument's plinth is on the right.  Behind her is the Kearny block between Merchant and Clay, next to the Hall of Justice just out of the picture at left.

... and Now,  the same block shows little change in over 60 years.  In the foreground a familiar sight these days - tightly gathered Chinatown denizens vociferously following a hotly contested board game.

Impact - Railroad Depot

  Walter, dazed and groggy after being callously attacked by his wife's lover, aimlessly strikes out on foot.

Then ...  He stumbles upon a rural rairoad depot with a sign reading Junction City.

... in 1970...   disregard the depot's movie name - this was filmed at the Southern Pacific depot at Santa Susana in Southern California, on East Los Angeles Avenue near Tapo Street (map).  Built in 1903, it remained in service until it was closed down in 1963.  The photo below taken in 1970 captured its neglected state seven years after it closed.

... and Now,  determined railway lovers saved the depot from demolition and moved it to a new location, below, not too far away on Katherine Road near Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley (Santa Susana was incorporated into Simi Valley in 1969), where it has been lovingly restored as a museum.  This map shows the depot's original (red marker) and new (blue marker) locations.


Then ...  He asks the station master when the next train leaves for San Francisco but is disappointed to learn it won't be until the next day.

... and Now,  below, the depot today looks exactly as it did then.  More information on the museum is available here.


Then ...  He makes a phone call to check on his attacker who had claimed to be Walter's wife Irene's cousin.  When he discovers he was not a relative at all the whole murder plot becomes clear.  As he leaves the station we see a building across Los Angeles Avenue bearing a partially obscured name - Santa Susana Cafe.

... in the 1930s ...   the vintage photo below, most likely from the 1930s, shows this same cafe, then known as Long's Place. To its left, visible also in the movie view above, was Hinkle's Place, a saloon run by teetotaler Clark Hinkle.

... and Now,  not there any more, the cafe and saloon used to be where Xpress Lube at 4560 East Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley now sits.

... in 1940 ...   this photo, looking southeast across the Santa Susana airport, serendipitously included the depot (large arrow) and the cafe and saloon opposite (small arrow).  (The airport has since been suburbanized and the street that replaced the runway is called ... Runway Street).

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