Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Thieves' Highway - Oregon Restaurant

  We next see an attractive woman, Rica (Valentina Cortese) , sauntering towards the Oregon Restaurant to the strains of a popular tune of the day - "I'll never be the same", perhaps anticipating the turn for the better her life will make in the movie.

Then ...  Note the number 524 on the door.

Thieves' Highway - Oregon Restaurant
... from the 1953 street directory ...  this entry for Front Street confirms that there was indeed an Oregon Cafe at 524 Front Street on the corner of Oregon Street.  A telephone entry listed the proprietors as Ed Vinci and Chuck Lucchesi, matching the names on the window.  (See location 6 on this map).

Thieves' Highway - Oregon Restaurant

  Rica strikes up a conversation with Nick who is almost out on his feet as he downs coffee to stay awake while waiting for his trucker partner Ed to arrive with his truckload of apples.

Thieves' Highway - Oregon Restaurant

Then ...  Unbeknownst to Nick she has been hired by Mike Figlia and his cronies to distract him while they sell off his apples.  It's not specifically mentioned but it's obvious she's a lady of the night. She offers Nick the use of her hotel room to get some sleep and he reluctantly accepts.  Below, they are seen at the corner of Oregon and Front with the restaurant behind them.

Thieves' Highway - Oregon Restaurant
... and Now,  today the three block Oregon Street which ran from the Embarcadero to Front is gone.  This section of Front Street between Jackson and Washington is now a small cul-de-sac straddled by residential units and the far left corner of it, viewed here from Jackson, is about where the restaurant used to be.

Thieves' Highway - Oregon Restaurant

D.O.A. - Fisherman Club

  Bigelow joins some noisy revellers at the hotel and goes out on the town with them.  They go to a waterfront dive, the Fisherman, a jam-packed club with a jumpin' jazz band.

Then ...  The Ferry Building steers us to the club location - it was at 111 Embarcadero at the corner of Merchant Street between Clay and Washington (click image to enlarge).  The Fisherman name was fictitious but a bar had occupied this spot for decades - it was called Jack's Waterfront Hangout at the time the movie was filmed.

... and Now,  replicating the movie view, the building is gone - this section of Merchant Street and several blocks around it were removed in the 1960s to make way for the Golden Gateway redevelopment project.

... in 1925 ...  here's a look at the bar a quarter century earlier, at bottom left across from the Ferry Station Post Office.  Neither structure is there now.  Washington Street intersects at far right.

4b fisherman 1925.jpg


There's a great scene inside the club (but filmed on a studio sound stage) with everybody movin' and groovin' as the band belts out a high energy number.  The jazz musicians were:  Jadie Carson (bandleader), Teddy Buckner (tpt), James Van Streeter (tenor sax), Ray Laurie (piano), Shifty Henry (bass) and Al 'Cake' Wichard (drums).  But they were miming to the soundtrack which had been recorded by a different band.


  Bigelow is quite the ladies man and tries to pick up Jeanie, an attractive woman at the bar (Virginia Lee).  He should have been more vigilant though because a mystery man uses the opportunity to switch his drink (below right).

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum

  Dorothy Bradshaw and daughter Cindy visit the Steinhart Aquarium after arriving at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.  The aquarium has been a visitors' favorite since 1923.

Then ...  The aquarium faced onto the central courtyard of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  The Academy also included a natural History Museum and a Planetarium.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum

... in 1968 ...  Below is an aerial photo from 1968 with an arrow marking the aquarium, part of the Academy building.  That's the DeYoung Museum facing the Academy across the concourse and the Bandstand at the edge of the concourse on the left.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum

... and Now,  The aquarium and indeed the entire Academy was razed in 2003 to make way for this $500 million replacement, below, opened in 2008 (map).  This photo was taken from the De Young Museum.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum


Then ...  Dancer and Julian catch up with Dorothy and Cindy in the aquarium.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum

... and Now,  the aquarium in the new Academy, below, is an ambitiously dramatic replacement.  (By the way, Orson Welles preceded Don Siegel by a decade with the use of a scene at the Steinhart Aquarium, in The Lady From Shanghai.  See it here).

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum


  Dancer flirts with Dorothy and offers to give her a ride back to her hotel.  She makes the big mistake of accepting.  As they leave the park, passing in front of the de Young museum, a policeman recognizes their car and calls in their description from a nearby telephone box (map).  We get a really interesting panorama down Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive - interesting because the 'Then' and 'Now' contrasts the old with the new museum.

Then ...  Director Siegel's panning camera gives us a great view of the old de Young museum on the right and the bandstand, built in 1900, on the left.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum
... and Now,  the new de Young, dubbed 'The Rusty Aircraft Carrier' by some wags, was opened in 2005.  The two sphinxes flanking the path to the museum (click image to enlarge) are still there, as is the bandstand, obscured by that palm tree.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum


  Back at the Mark Hopkins hotel Dancer frenziedly rips Cindy's doll apart after she tells him she found white powder inside the doll and used it to powder its face!  Uh oh, there's none left.

The Lineup - Steinhart Aquarium and De Young Museum

The Lineup - Mark Hopkins Hotel

  Two down, one to go.  The last stop is the Mark Hopkins Hotel (map) to intercept the Japanese doll carried in by little Cindy Bradshaw.

  The panorama below looks down California Street from Mason as the crooks' Plymouth approaches the Mark Hopkins.  On the right is the Stanford Court Hotel, built on the site of the Leland Stanford mansion after it burned down following the 1906 earthquake.  On the left is the Fairmont Hotel, a survivor of the quake.

Then ...  Prominent marquees advertise the Fairmont's Papagayo Room, since closed, and the Cirque Room.  The Nob Hill Theater was an unusual rear-projection cinema until becoming a restaurant in 1964.  The smaller sign down the road advertises the Tonga Room.

... and Now,  there's still a sign for the Tonga Room on the Fairmont.  The Bay Bridge tower is now barely visible between the modern Financial District buildings down California.


Then ...  They swing into the tiny courtyard of the Mark Hopkins Hotel at California and Mason.  This grand edifice was built in 1926 on the site of the Mark Hopkins mansion which, like its neighbors, went up in smoke in 1906.  The same hotel was featured in the 1968 movie 'Bullitt'.

... and Now,  you wouldn't expect many changes at such a traditional and venerable place, and sure enough, there aren't any.

  Dancer and Julian quickly discover that Dorothy Bradshaw and daughter are visiting the Steinhart Aquarium; without further ado they hightail it over there.


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Dark Passage - Kean Hotel

  In the Fillmore, Parry eludes the law and runs into an alley opposite Harry's Wagon (below) ... but when he emerges from the alley he has been transported to skid row on Mission Street, South of Market, miles across town!  Note the all day parking rate in 1947 - that would be a little over $2.00 today, such a deal.


Then ...  He turns right from the alley and checks into the Kean Hotel right next door.

... and Now,  the Kean is still there, now a residential hotel, at 1018 Mission between 6th and 7th Streets (map).  This part of town is still a throwback to mid-century days.


Then ...  Below, Parry opens his hotel window (bottom center, below the top row of windows), but the camera that took this shot was actually on the roof of the Kean Hotel filming the windows on the side of the Mission Street building next to it.  Beyond the rooftops the view looks across 6th Street.

... and Now,  CitySleuth was able to get the same shot from the same spot.  None of the nearby buildings have changed, only the Financial District highrises in the distance.


  Baker, the man who had given Parry a ride after his escape from prison, shows up at the hotel and pulls a gun on Parry, demanding they go to Irene's place to blackmail her.

Then ...  Parry is forced to drive Baker's car.  Below, they are leaving from the parking alley alongside the Kean hotel - the cross street at the end of the alley is Jessie.

... and Now,  exactly as it used to be.  The hotel wall is at near left and the unpainted brick wall down the alley on the right is the same wall pictured above.


Then ...  Continuing on, they are now a half block south of Mission turning from Natoma Street into Russ Street (map).  The skyscraper in the distance is the 1925 Pacific Telephone building at 140 New Montgomery Street.

... and Now,  the de Vera corner store occupies the site of 1947's La Esperanza.  The Pacific Telephone building, most recently the Pac Bell building but vacant since 2007, can still be seen down the street beyond the office building now sitting astride Natoma at 155 5th Street.

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