Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lady From Shanghai - Whaler's Cove, Sausalito

  After leaving Acapulco Elsa's yacht Circe drops anchor off Whaler's Cove in Sausalito, a small town on the edge of San Francisco Bay just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.  Below is a 1937 photo of the cove, taken in the year the bridge was inaugurated.


Then ...  A small tender brings Elsa in to shore.  The San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz Island can be seen in the distance.

... and Now,  the recent photo below reveals only skeletal remains of the pier.


Then ...  As the tender coasts in we see Sausalito on the left and Angel Island on the right with Belvedere and Tiburon between them (click the image to enlarge).

... and Now,  the same view today. (click the image to enlarge).


Then ...  Elsa is helped onto the pier.  Behind her is a boardwalk and beyond that the picturesque town of Sausalito climbs up the hillside.

... and Now,  there are many newer buildings crowded onto the hillside but some of them are still recognizable, including the one on the boardwalk with the twin turrets.


Then ...  O'Hara is waiting for Elsa on the pier.  In the background is the Nunes Bros. boatyard where, incidentally, the yacht Circe (Errol Flynn's yacht Zaca) was built.

... and Now,  the boatyard has succumbed to apartment buildings, as has most of the adjacent shoreline.

... in 1929 ...  This vintage photo shows the Zaca being built at Nunes Bros. boatyard. 

Petulia - Bad Accident

    Throughout the movie a series of flashbacks show young Oliver, who Petulia and David had brought to San Francisco from Tijuana, being treated in hospital.  Another flashback finally explains why - Oliver had suffered a serious accident.

... from 1965 ...  the vintage photo below shows the accident site (arrow) as it was when the scene was filmed, alongside the elevated Embarcadero freeway in front of the Ferry Building close to where Market Street joins (map).  That's the Clay Street on-ramp in the right foreground and the Washington Street off-ramp in the left foreground.  (The ugly freeway was destined to be demolished after it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake).  


    Petulia buys Oliver a Greyhound ticket to Tijuana - this booth was presumably set up under the freeway especially for the movie - the freeway passes overhead to the north past the signs pointing to Market and Washington.  But the boy doesn't want to leave and runs away...

Then ...  He darts between the passing traffic.  Note the YMCA sign down the road on the building with the flagpole.

... and Now,  the same view looking south down the Embarcadero, now a wide-open bustling boulevard after the demise of the elevated freeway.  The Y, near the corner of Howard Street, is still there and its flag is still flying.


Then ...  We are facing north again as the cars desperately try to avoid the boy but one of them hits him.  In the background are the two freeway ramps seen in the accident site photo at the top of this page.

... and Now,  no elevated freeway, no ramps.  The large office tower on the left is part of the Embarcadero Center on Clay Street.

Vertigo - Death Plunge

Then ...  Scotttie and Madeleine's visit to Mission San Juan Bautista (map) is introduced by this wonderful shot down the length of the cloisters, taking full advantage of both shadow and light.

... and Now,  the mission is a museum - open to the public and certainly worth a visit - so it's not surprising that time stands still here.


Then ...  The camera swings to the right and reveals two buildings across the plaza - both will be featured in the ensuing action.  Madeleine's Jaguar is parked between them.

... and Now,  here they are in a recent photo.  On the left is the Plaza Hall, on the right the Plaza Stables.


  In the stables Madeleine, trance-like, recalls her past life at the mission.  She mentions a grey horse ...

Then ...  but Scottie spies a carved wooden horse and buggy exhibit behind them.  "Look at this ... here's your grey horse ... there's an answer for everything ... no one possesses you!"

... and Now,  that horse and buggy are still there tucked into a corner in the stables.


Then ...  Madeleine pulls away from Scottie and runs back across the plaza towards the mission.  "It's too late", she says and asks him to let her go into the church alone.  This shot (below) was filmed on a set to optimize lighting and sound.

... and Now,  here's the real cloisters.  As you can see, they did a heck of a job recreating it.


Then ...  As she walks to the church she looks up at the tower and with a sudden sense of dread he realizes her intention.

... and Now,  as explained in the previous location this tower doesn't exist - the original was removed in 1949 - the tower above was added as a matte painting.  Below is a recent photo of the mission showing the current bell tower, on the right.


Then ...  He rushes after her into the church and desperately looks around.

... and Now,  surprisingly, the church has seen several alterations since 1958.  The ceiling beams are gone and the side wall archways, which had been filled in after the 1906 earthquake, have been opened up again.  But the altar and altarpiece behind it look the same.


Then ...  In the church, he first looks to his right towards this arched doorway ...

Then ...  then he looks to his left and through another doorway sees Madeleine running up a set of stairs leading up the bell tower.

... and Now,  but both shots above are the same doorway! For the one immediately above, a set of stairs were added in.  Here it is below, just inside and to the left of the church entrance, now with added frescoed touches but still with the identical framed artwork and set of pots.


  He tries desperately to catch up with Madeleine as she scales the steep steps (filmed on an elaborate studio set) but his acrophobia kicks in and an overwhelming feeling of vertigo stops him in his tracks just below the trap door at the top of the tower ...

  ... and he can only watch, mortified, immobilised, as she plunges to her death.

Experiment In Terror - Kelly's House

  Kelly's home is in Clarendon Heights between Twin Peaks and Mount Sutro.  No doubt chosen for its views, it is shown a number of times throughout the movie.

Then ...  At the beginning of the movie Kelly drives over the Bay Bridge and we see this nighttime view of her home as she drives into her garage.

Then ...  later, as she reverses out of the garage, daylight reveals the full extent of the view.  Kelly lives in the small house, 100 St. Germain Avenue, squeezed between the two larger homes with gabled roofs (map).

... and Now, taken from the top of Glenbrook Avenue, this (below) is how it looks today.  From here, 100 St. Germain is mostly hidden by bushes but the roof and chimney peep over the top.  That's the Golden Gate Park panhandle above the house and the Buena Vista Park hill is over to the right.  Angel Island and Alcatraz are in the distance on the left.


Then ...  From across the street there's a closer view of the garage and the home's front fence and entrance gate.

... and Now,  still the same, as too is the neighboring house to the left.


Then ...  This panorama shows an even closer look at the garage and entrance gate.

... and Now,  it still looks amazingly similar, even down to the three angled fence supports and the quaint awning over the gate.  The neighbor to the right, though, has traded a chimney for a skylight.

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