Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Fog Over Frisco - A Cryptic Telegram

    We learned in the prior post that Arlene has been murdered but Val is unaware.  When she receives a telegram signed by Arlene asking for help at the Butcher Town bridge she rushes to meet her.

... a vintage photo ...  Butchertown really did exist in San Francisco.  It was an area in the Bayview neighborhood that housed all of the city's animal slaughterhouses and associated businesses.  The photo below was taken at a slaughterhouse at 3rd and Evans Avenue (map) in 1921.  Butchertown's prime (excuse the pun) was in the late 1800s through 1906 but it wasn't until 1971 that its last slaughterhouse finally closed.


Then ...  Val, driving Arlene's car, doesn't know that her sister's lifeless body is stuffed into the trunk.  She heads down a steep hill on her way to the bridge. 

... a vintage photo ...  but the shot above was filmed not in San Francisco; this is Bunker Hill, Los Angeles.  Below is a 1948 image of the same street, viewed south towards Olive St. from Grand Avenue down 2nd St. (map).  CitySleuth recognized it from a couple of movies he has already covered:  1952's Sudden Fear, where Gloria Grahame meets a sudden end, and 1962's Days Of Wine And Roses where Lee Remick visits Jack Lemmon in the Chaspeak Apartments at 512 W. 2nd, the Victorian on the far right.

... and Now,  this location looks completely different today after the Bunker Hill neighborhood was razed in the 1950s and 60s.  Nostalgists like CitySleuth are grateful that the unique character of the old neighborhood can still be experienced in several old movies.


Then ...  Val's reporter friend Tony who had found Arlene's body hears of the telegram and commandeers a Yellow Cab to rush to Butchertown bridge.  But now we are back in San Francisco as the cab heads down Hyde Street...

... and Now,  with Alcatraz in the distance this view down Hyde was filmed from Lombard (map).  Turning 90 degrees to the right would have revealed Lombard's famous crooked street, constructed 12 years before the movie was filmed.  Better had they sent the cab down there!


Then ...  The cab continues down Hyde, seen here from Beach Street.  The tall building at the top of the hill is the View Tower Apartments at 2238 Hyde, built in 1928.  Note the vertical garage sign at far right...

... and Now,  in the same view today a cable car waits its turn until a departing one at the Hyde Street Pier terminus, just off the right side, makes room for it.  The blue and red store up the block on the right occupies the site of the garage mentioned above...

    ... it's Blazing Saddles, a bike rental store at 2715 Hyde Street.  If you peer long enough at the Then image above, as CitySleuth would, you can see that this building and the adjacent one next to it uphill appear little changed for almost a century since being built in 1925.


Then ...  Val's father, alerted to Arlene's murder by the reporter, joins the frantic rush down Hyde Street in his limousine, filmed here from Francisco Street.

... and Now,  back in the 1930s there were more cable car lines than nowadays but this, the Powell/Hyde line, is one of the survivors. 


The Penalty - A Diabolical Plan, continued

Then ...  Blizzard continues describing his revenge plan against the City of San Francisco.  In his mind's eye, his army of malcontents, wearing straw hats for identification, spring into action, intent on sowing chaos in the streets.

... and Now,  this is the northwest corner of Grant and Clay in Chinatown, currently occupied by the jewelry store Jen Ju and Co., at 801 Grant (map).  The cable car that once traversed Clay Street no longer does.

    This same corner was seen years later in The Lady From Shanghai (1947) when Orson Welles' character darts across Clay Street while on the lam from the police (described here in this blog).  Note that the cable car line was still operational then.


Then ...  More anarchists charge around a corner near the Ferry Building; the view looks down Commercial Street from Drumm Street (map).  Note the pedestrian footbridge in front of the Ferry Building.  The roof cornice partially glimpsed on the far left side of the photo belonged to the Harbor Police Station.

... in the 1950s ...  this photo taken almost 40 years later shows more of the Harbor Police Station at left.  Straight ahead the newly built Embarcadero Freeway isolates the Ferry Building.

... and Now,  from the same spot today it's unrecognizable since the entire surrounding area was torn down in the 1960s for the Golden Gateway Redevelopment Project which modernized and transformed it into an extension of the Financial District.  The Four Embarcadero Center office complex was built astride this particular location.

... in 1925 ...  here's a vintage photo showing the footbridge at the Ferry building that spanned the Embarcadero until the 1940s.  Note too that an auto tunnel used to carry traffic beneath the busy plaza where the Market Street trams made a U-turn.  The arrow points to the location on Drumm Street where the above scene was filmed.


Then ...  Back in Chinatown the mayhem gets serious when a policeman is gunned down.

... and Now,  this view looks down Sacramento Street from Grant - the corner store today is the Floating Sushi Boat restaurant at 700 Grant.


    The rampage expands, setting buildings ablaze.


Then ...  The disruptive tactics are a diversion, intended to draw out and tie up emergency police and fire responders -  Blizzard imagines the fire department's Engine 10 company charging from the firehouse at 3050 17th Street in the Mission (map)...

... and Now,  the site today is a parking lot. 

 ... a vintage photo ...   The Engine 10 and Truck 7 firehouse, built in 1895, is pictured here in this 1952 photo.


    By way of a trivia observation, just across 17th Street from the Engine 10 firehouse was the very distinctive Mission Police Station, photographed here in 1924.  In the next post we will see the police responding to Blizzard's criminal army but filmed elsewhere.  For some reason the moviemakers passed on the opportunity to use this police station even though their cameras were already right there filming the firehouse.

... and Now,  this was home for the Mission Police Station from 1903 to 1950 at which time it relocated to a new site on Valencia Street.  It remains so marked but is now privately owned; its most recent sale was in 2002 for $2.2M.  It still exudes character and suggests only hints of what went on over the decades behind those walls.


    (Blizzard's nefarious plot continues in the next post - CitySleuth).


Harold And Maude - Amusement Park

Then ...  We next see Harold And Maude enjoying the popular kid-friendly Trabant ride at an amusement park.

... in 1971 ...  this scene was filmed at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, California's oldest (1907) surviving amusement park (map).  Here's a photo taken in the year the movie was released showing the ride at far right next to the Ferris Wheel.

... and Now, The Trabant ride is no longer there; a new ride, the Pirate Ship, occupies its location and the Ferris Wheel has been moved to the east end of the boardwalk.  A map of today's Boardwalk can be seen here.


Then ...  Wrapped up against a chilly Santa Cruz breeze they walk into the covered arcade.

... and Now,  the arcade has undergone some changes including multi-colored capitals added to the column tops at left.


Then ...  As they watch a model train layout check out the bearded dude between them - it's director Hal Ashby making a cameo appearance, Alfred Hitchcock-style. 

... and Now,  this is the Casino Arcade at the far west end of the Boardwalk.  All of the attractions and machines have been changed but the columns, topped by ornate capitals, are still there holding up the ceiling; they guided CitySleuth to the right spot.


Then ...  Harold stops at a metal-typer machine and, after checking that Maude isn't watching, spells out 'Harold Loves Maude' on a token.

... and Now,  as viewed from the same place, but the typer machine is gone.

    CitySleuth couldn't find the typer during his recent visit but other boardwalk visitors in the recent past came across one and posted photos of it and a token.


Then ...  Meanwhile, still in the Casino Arcade, Maude applauds a lively competitive game.

... and Now,  the staircase on the left side has since been remodeled away.


Then ...  They find a place with a good view of a fireworks display across the water above the glittering boardwalk.  Enthralled by Harold's token, she echoes her love for him then flings it into the sea... "So I'll always know where it is".  Robert Ballard, you're needed.

... and Now,  For this shot the camera was set up on the wharf that juts way out into the bay alongside the boardwalk (map).  The Giant Dipper stands out both Then and Now in the center background.


    The climactic fireworks segue to Maude's railcar.  Finally, they did it.


Fog Over Frisco - The Bradford's Garage: A Grisly Find

Then ... Fleeing from the reporters, Val, driving her sister Arlene's car, heads north on Gough Street, about to turn right into Washington, here passing the corner steps at Lafayette Park.

... and Now, this is the northeast corner of the park (map).


    A word about the car that Val is driving: it's a 1932 Packard Twin Six coupe roadster, affordable only by the moneyed set including the actor Clark Gable who paid $4,250 for his when just 2 years into his MGM contract.  When he posed for this photograph below in 1933 he had added wheel discs and a rear-mounted trunk.

    Incidentally, the same car, refinished and reupholstered, won First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2009 then was sold for $1,210,000 at the 2016 RM Sotheby's auction at Amelia Island, below.


Then ...  On Washington Street a cable car rumbles downhill past the Crest View Garage, far left, as she turns into her own garage, far right.  In the movie her garage is part of her mansion home, but in the real world this location is a block away from the mansion which, as we saw earlier was at the corner of Washington and Laguna at the other end of the park.

... and Now, Washington Street lost its cable car line in 1956 but the garage building on the left is still there, now privately used by residents of the adjacent CrestView Apartments.  The building at right, 2080 Gough Street, was replaced in 1963; its side garage is at the same spot as was the Bradford's garage.  


   After Val takes an elevator up to her room prying reporters open the rumble seat of the car and are shocked to find the lifeless body of Arlene Bradford stuffed inside.  They take a grisly photograph and decide to hold off informing the police until their newspaper breaks the sensational story.


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