Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Conversation - Prophetic Dream

    The conventioneers booze it up back at Caul's workshop.  Perhaps loosened up by the alcohol Caul uncharacteristically shares private thoughts with Meredith, the convention hostess (Elizabeth MacRae).  When his rival Bernie, using a planted microphone, jokingly plays it back for all to hear, Caul is furious and throws everyone but Meredith out.  She offers him solace and more as they end up spending the night together.


Then ... Caul's concerns over the fate of his surveillance target, the Director's two-timing young wife, gnaw away at him even as he sleeps and in a dream he finds himself following her to a park to warn her.

... and Now,  this is the southeast corner of Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights (mapwhere a series of four stairways lead up to the tennis courts.  The Director's wife was on the street level stairway accessed from Steiner Street.  (Coppola's use of oily smoke generators in this scene created a backlash amongst the surrounding residents forcing him to prematurely curtail the original scheduled shoot).


Then ...  She runs up the second stairway - the offset third and fourth are also visible successively climbing the hill towards the tennis court fence at the top.

... and Now,  the steps and the tennis courts are still there.


Then ...  He runs after her, pausing below the second stairway, offering as an excuse an outpouring of his childhood problems.

... and Now,  the matching view looks down to the corner of Steiner and Clay.


Then ...  He shouts his warning -  "... He'll kill you if he gets the chance ..." then, " ... I'm not afraid of death ..." and after a reflective pause, "... I am afraid of murder ".  Across Steiner Steet behind him we can just make out, at far left, the windows of 2310 Steiner.

... and Now,  absent the smoke there's a much clearer view of the shingled exterior of number 2310.


    Now he imagines the Director attacking his terrified wife ...

    ... then wakes up to find Meredith and his surveillance tapes gone.  So all along she had been on the Director's payroll to head off the chance that the incriminating tapes might end up in the wrong hands.  Caul's reaction was understandable ... "Bitch!".


The Laughing Policeman - Garden Of Eden Club

Then ...  Short on leads, Jake and Larsen try to find the supplier of the automatic weapon, grease gun in the police vernacular, used in the bus slaying.  Larsen begins at a North Beach club, the Garden Of Eden.  The camera pans down its colorful sign ...

... and Now,  the Garden Of Eden Club, at 529 Broadway in the heart of the North Beach red light district (map), opened at this location in 1972 and looks just the same more than 40 years on.


Then ...  Jacquie Portnoy with the San Francisco Strutters, entertains passers-by outside the club.  Across the street a steep alley, Romolo Place, tees in and we get a glimpse of the famous Hungry I club on the corner at 546 Broadway.  (This same band are also heard in the 1973 movie The Conversation during the opening scene in Union Square).

... and Now,  the Hungry I, now a strip club, lives on at the same location between the Roaring 20's club and the Beat Museum

... at an earlier location ...  the Hungry I's fame however dates back to an earlier, different location in the basement of the International Hotel two blocks away at 599 Jackson Street (map) during the time it was a folk music and satirical comedy club.  The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul & Mary, Lenny Bruce and countless others performed or recorded albums there.  The well-dressed crowd below are lining up there to see Woody Allen and newcomer Barbra Streisand on the same bill in 1963, coinciding with the release of her first album.


Then ...  Inside, Larsen may be on business but he takes a moment to check out the entertainment.

... and Now,  the club's compact interior has been recently remodeled but retains the same basic layout.  On a recent visit it was CitySleuth's turn to be entertained.


... in 1972 ...  here's a still from a 1972 TV segment about the club aired shortly before the movie was filmed.

... and Now,  remarkably similar.


The House Across The Bay - Rock Widows

    The Rock Widows, "Jennies with a Johnny on the Rock", take a ferry over to Alcatraz (mapto visit their man.  Brenda joins them for the first of what she assumes will be many visits.  She and Steve share small-talk and it's clear he misses her very much.


Then ...  After departing from the slip alongside the large building on the right the ferry sails around the southeastern tip of the island on its return trip.

... and Now,  the most striking difference in today's view is the missing and damaged staff buildings alongside the lighthouse - they were destroyed by fire during the 1969 -1971 occupation of Alcatraz by a group of tribal Indians.  The large building seen at far right above is still there, behind the trees.

... a vintage image ... This photo, taken the year after the prison closed during a brief Indian protest in 1964, gives us a clearer look at those ill-fated buildings.  The Indians were staking their historic claim to the ownership of the island.

   ... and here the buildings go up in smoke in 1970.


Then ...  The rock widows look back to the side of the island that faces San Francisco.  It's sobering to think that when this was filmed the prison was jammed with high-risk maximum security inmates.

... and Now,  the same view today, but the dreaded penitentiary is now a tourist attraction.  The water tower is not in the image above; it was built in 1940 shortly after the movie was released.


Then ...  One of the women, Mary (Gladys George), notices Brenda standing alone and walks over to talk to her.  A cigarette breaks the ice and pretty soon they become fast friends.  Behind them Russian Hill rises above Fort Mason.

... and Now,  Development on Russian Hill has changed its skyline; also downtown on the left where high-rise office buildings are pulled in close by the telephoto lens.  Nearer shore, Ghirardelli Square sits just above the Art Deco Bathhouse and the adjacent Fire Department pump house at Aquatic Park.  Fort Mason's Pier 2 and 3 are on the right and Pier 4, the Alcatraz Pier, is on the left in front of the pump house - it's marked by the red-roofed building at its end (click the image to enlarge).


The Conversation - 10-28

Then ...  After a long day at the surveillance convention, Caul and buddies decide to party at his workshop - they pile into a car inside the St. Francis Hotel's parking garage entrance on Geary Street (map).

... and Now,  there are mirrors on some of the pillars and the fire extinguisher recessed into one of them has been removed otherwise 40 years on it looks very similar.


Then ...  They are crossing Fillmore Street heading west on Lombard in the Cow Hollow neighborhood (map) when a yellow Mustang suddenly cuts in front of them and roars off.

... and Now,  at the same junction.  Peter's Auto Radio store on the corner of Fillmore at far right above is now a children's toy store.  The Arco Car Wash and service station visible above down the block was replaced in 1978 by the Cow Hollow Motor Inn, hidden from here by the trees.


    Caul's surveillance partner Paul (Michael Higgins) is the driver.  But that's a moonlighting job - he's also a cop and, determined to give the exhibitionist driver a run for his money, he takes off after him.  The filming of the chase that ensued jumped back and forth along the five block stretch of Lombard between Webster and Divisadero.


Then ...  The two cars, tires screaming, next make a hard right from Lombard into Pierce.  Across the street at far right there's a chain restaurant, the International House of Pancakes.

... and Now,  the restaurant is still there, rebranded as IHOP (International House of Pancakes ... get it?).  So too is the Surf Motel, but Irv's Union service station seen above on the corner is now gone, replaced in 2007 by the condo/retail building below.


Then ...  In the next shot they are on Webster, turning at high speed back onto Lombard, this time heading east.  Paul is driving his official car and he decides to have some fun - he calls headquarters and requests a '10-28' (vehicle registration details) on the Mustang.

... and Now,  for the most part time has stood still on this corner except for changes with the traffic lights.


Then ...  During the 10-28 call Paul tells headquarters he's heading east on Lombard but even as he speaks we see they now heading west; they have just crossed Scott.

... and Now,  the Sands Motel at 2440 Lombard today is a Super-8 motel and further along the Bank of America branch at 2460 Lombard became, until it recently closed, a Blockbuster Video store.


    When the Mustang pulls up at a stop sign we recognize it as the 1970 Boss 302 model with its unique hockey--stick side stripes that cross over the hood.  Paul stops alongside it and shouts across to the startled driver ...

" Heyyy ... Willie Sanchez ... 654 14th Street ... 162 pounds ... 5 foot 10 1/2 ... Shithead! "


Then ...  Now it's Paul's turn to roar off leaving the Mustang driver wondering what on earth just happened.  The cars had stopped at Lombard alongside the Doggie Diner restaurant at 2099 Lombard Street at Fillmore  This view looks south past the Mustang along Fillmore Street to its steep climb up to Pacific Heights. 

... and Now,  another Motor Inn, the Chelsea, now occupies the southeast corner site where the Doggie Diner used to be.  The tall building at the top of the hill is the prestigious 2288 Broadway co-op apartments.

9 - joyride 6 now.jpg

    Back at Caul's workshop Bernie declares ... "The bar is now open!".


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