Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Laughing Policeman - Carnage

Then ...  The 14-Mission bus approaches, heading north on Mission Street; it has just crossed  Army Street and is about to overtake the sedan in the foreground whose driver is lying in wait (map).  At far right is a corner Doggie Diner at 3100 Mission and beyond that a Sears Roebuck store at 3120 Mission.  On the left at 3101 Mission the corner building housed the Sears Catalog Department.

... and Now,  Army Street was renamed Cesar Chavez Street in 1990. The Sears building is still there on Mission, that's its grey tower at far right, but the store has closed. The Doggie Diner has since been replaced by another building as has the Sears Catalog building opposite.

... in 1964 ...  here's a vintage photo with a good view of the Sears Roebuck store.  It now houses a career development office on the ground floor and various businesses populate the offices above. Back then the auto used car lot on the corner preceded the Doggie Diner.


Then ...  In the next shot - it's just a bock from the previous one - we see the bus being overtaken by the sedan.  It pulls over and the driver gets out and boards the bus when it stops at the curb on the left.

... and Now,  what's interesting about this location is that the bus is off route because this is 26th Street with Mission crossing in the background (map) - the real 14-Mission bus of course would cross 26th as it passes along Mission.  There is indeed a bus stop here but it's for the 27-Bryant.  The Auto-Torium parts store, above at 2999 Mission, is now one of four local Casa Guadalupe restaurants, riotously muraled at right.


Then ...  The bus continues on; you will be forgiven if the store signs in Chinese and oriental-styled street lamps make you think this is Chinatown ...

... and Now,  ... because that's exactly where this is, facing east on Clay Street approaching Grant Avenue (map).  Typical of Chinatown, it's essentially unchanged.  This by the way is way off the real 14-Mission route.


    As the bus proceeds down Clay the mystery passenger methodically assembles an automatic weapon.  He suddenly stands up and with a hail of bullets methodically and mercilessly shoots everybody on board including the driver.  Total, shocking carnage.


Then ...  With the driver slumped over the wheel the bus swerves and comes to a halt after taking out the  Brenham Place street sign on the corner of Portsmouth Square (map).  The gunman calmly alights and walks away.

... and Now,  Brenham Place ran along the west side of Portsmouth Square and is now Walter U Lum Place, renamed in 1985 in honor of a local advocate for Chinese-American rights.


    The first responders to the massacre include Sgt Jake Martin of the SFPD (Walter Matthau).  He is shocked to find his partner Dave Evans, who had called in sick a few days earlier, amongst the victims.  He and Inspector Leo Larsen (Bruce Dern) sit down at the scene and try to make sense of it all.


The Conversation - Too Many Questions

Then ...  Caul has a sometime girlfriend, Amy, and occasionally he stops by unannounced to see her.  Viewed through the gate from her apartment building's courtyard we see a Muni bus pull up mid-block across the street; Caul gets off and crosses towards us.

and Now,  this is Frederick Street between Masonic and Delmar in the Haight district.  The 6-Parnassus bus still passes by the same spot stopping not here, but at the end of the block.


  Amy resides at the Casa Madrona Apartments at 110 - 116 Frederick Street in the Haight district near Buena Vista Park (map), pictured below in a recent photo.  In another nod to its cinematic past Marilyn Monroe reportedly stayed here during a break from Hollywood.


Then ...  He enters the courtyard, closing the gate behind him.

and Now,  the masonry block front wall has been replaced or plastered over and extended into the courtyard to accomodate residents' mailboxes.  The wrought -iron gate has also been replaced - for added security it is taller than was its predecessor.


Then ...  He then makes his way past the ornamental fountain towards a lighted entrance ahead.

and Now,  the fountain has been replaced by another and a recently added railing now isolates it from the pathway.  The masonry blocks built into the wall at rear, more clearly seen above, are still there, now peeking through shrubs.


Then ...  Inside the front door Caul pauses, lingering at the top of the steps, hanging back and peering down as though, paranoid, he wants to make sure nobody is watching.

and Now,  the hallway today shows all of the same architectural details.  CitySleuth loves it when things stay just as they were!  The door's window glass is different though, losing its style.


Then ...  Amy's apartment is at the bottom of the short flight of stairs.  It's late and knowing she is probably in bed he lets himself in.

and Now,  that same door viewed from the top  of the stairs.


Then ...  A skimpy wrap and plastic raincoat make strange bedfellows but Amy (Terri Garr) is warm and welcoming and happy to see him.  They seem to get along fine as they snuggle up and share a bottle of wine.  In the background we see a glimpse of the kitchen.

... and Now,  the apartment actually has a separate bedroom but for the movie the bed was moved into the living room to make it appear to be a cosy studio. There have been a few changes since the early 70s including a remodeled kitchen but that's the same back door leading out from the apartment.


Then ...  Amy knows very little about Harry Caul - he keeps his personal life close to the vest.  She wants to know more about him and it's clear that he is not at all comfortable with her questions.

... and Now,  the door behind him is the door to the bedroom.  Note the same wall moldings then and now.


Then ...  She keeps probing until, that's it ... he's had enough and abruptly leaves.  On his way out she tells him she won't wait up for him any more.  This man clearly has a hard time keeping friends.

... and Now,  through the open door we see that the same newel post and bannister are still there.


Days Of Wine And Roses - Kirsten's First Sip

Then ...  First she plays hard to get then Kirsten surprises Joe by suggesting he ask her out to dinner.  They meet at the Place Pigalle restaurant.

... a vintage photo ...  the restaurant, evoking Montmartre's Place Pigalle neighborhood, was opened in 1953 by proprietors Maurice Stergios and Hans Behringer at 3721 Buchanan Street in the Marina district, replacing the former Del Mar Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge.  By the time the movie was filmed here nine years later it had become very popular.  Here's another look at the interior in an undated postcard photo image.

  For restaurant history buffs, the earlier Del Mar at the same location was more traditional, a plush multi-boothed place.

... and Now,  by 1980 the Place Pigalle had closed down and the building it was in, across Buchanan from the Marina Safeway, was replaced by this one in 1983.  By the way, if any reader out there knows of a photo of the exterior of the restaurant in its heyday please let CitySleuth know.


  Joe can't fathom Kirsten's aversion to booze.  She does admit to one vice though - chocolate.   So he orders a Brandy Alexander (knowing it contains crème de cacao) and persuades her to try it ...  Oh no,  she loves it!  It was the first sip of many on the long slippery spiral ahead ...


... on location ...  Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon share a smoke break with director Blake Edwards during the location shoot at the Place Pigalle on New Years day, 1962.  CitySleuth would love to know how they spent New Year's Eve.


Experiment In Terror - Reluctant Witness

  Whenever CitySleuth draws a blank on pinpointing a location he posts it anyway asking readers to help identify it.  Just occasionally they do, as in this post ...


  Ripley questions Lisa Soong (Anita Loo, in her only movie role), who the priest had seen with the suspect Red Lynch.  She is reluctant with her answers, almost hostile, and refuses to answer without first talking to her lawyer.

11A reluctant witness.jpg

Then ...  The lawyer lives across the street from her and on receiving her call wastes no time going over to join her.

11A lisa 1.jpg

and Now ...  CitySleuth heard from reader Suzy Safdie who as it turns out lived as a child in this very house.  She identified it as 647 33rd Avenue in the Richmond district (map), a block or so from George Washington High School which made an appearance earlier in the movie.  The house has added a garage since then.

11A lisa 1 now.jpg

Then ...  The rest of this block is revealed as the camera pans to the right to show the suspect lurking, waiting as the lawyer crosses and heads up to Lisa's place.  Note the messy oil-pan leaks on the pavement, a sign of the times but rarely seen today.

11A lisa 2.jpg

and Now ...  The interesting serial row of homes are all different in style, then as now.  Anza Street crosses at the stop sign.

11A lisa 2 now.jpg

Then ...    Lynch approaches and gazes up at Lisa's window, presumably the top floor.  Inside, on the advice of her lawyer, she admits to knowing Lynch, in fact they have dated a number of times.  But even after being told he is a three-time murderer, she appears to be holding back information.

11A lisa 3.jpg

and Now ...  Lynch was gazing up at 652 33rd Avenue but its interior scenes were most likely filmed on a studio set.  Here's that house today.

11A lisa house now.jpg

Born To Kill - Murder In The Dunes

Then ...  As a Yellow cab drops Mrs Kraft off at the remote address given her by Marty, amongst a lonely stretch of sand dunes, viewers can be excused if they find themselves gripping their seats in trepidation.

... and Now,  but where was this filmed?  It clearly is meant to be somewhere in the Outer Sunset, a district that in the early to mid 20th century saw its vast area of sand dunes inexorably replaced with tract housing.  While there are insufficient clues to work out the exact spot, the location below, at the corner of Santiago Street and the Great Highway (map) is typical of where it could have been.  The landscaped dunes on the right separate this frontage road from the Great Highway and the ocean.


... but wait a minute.  It turns out this scene was not filmed in San Francisco at all.  The moviemakers chose another location on the California coast with a sand dune complex that rivaled San Francisco's but which lagged the development of the Sunset district.  CitySleuth came across a reference to a Hollywood Reporter article revealing that one of the movie's location shoots, obviously this one, was filmed at the beach in El Segundo.  By now, most of that city's dunes have gone too but there's still a significant surviving strip sandwiched between the beach and Los Angeles' International airport (map).


Then ...  Marty leads the dear old lady, she finally realizing she has gotten herself into dire straits, into the dunes and pulls a knife, intent on carrying out Sam's order to do her in.  But, surprise (!!), Sam himself suddenly appears ...

... and Now,  here's a photo of very similar sand dunes recently taken at El Segundo beach.


  Mrs Kraft escapes as Sam throws Marty to the ground.  Paranoid as ever he had jumped to the wrong conclusion after he saw him leaving Helen's room (after an innocent conversation as it happens).  Marty's protestations fail to stop the cold-blooded killer from driving the knife home.


  When the police show up the next day at their home with questions (Marty had been staying there as a guest) Sam tells them he had been playing cards all evening with Helen.  Startled, and despite realizing that his lie could only mean that he was the killer, she nevertheless supports his alibi.


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