Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Laughing Policeman - Showdown

Then ...  Several folks at a bus stop on the Embarcadero await the oncoming bus carrying Jake and the suspect.  Piers 16 and 18 are over to the right and the Ferry Building is visible in the distance.  The abrupt termination of the Embarcadero Freeway left of center suggests there was a southern extension planned.

... and Now,  the same view from the same spot, now part of Rincon Park and close to the whimsical Cupid's Span, a head-turning sculpture installed in 2002.  The two piers and the double-decker freeway are no longer there.

    Citysleuth zeroed in on the camera location by overlaying a vintage (1955) and a recent aerial shot.  In the 1955 aerial the arrow shows where the bus stop location was, close to the junction with Folsom.  Click or tap the image or thumbnail to toggle to the aerial view today; all of those piers have since been removed.  Gone too is the entire block of buildings opposite Pier 18, clearing the way for the Embarcadero to be rerouted to make room for the new two acre Rincon Park, straddling where the bus stop used to be.  The Bay Bridge crosses diagonally in the lower right corner.


Then ...  As the bus slows down we see the Bay Bridge straight ahead and Folsom Street on the right.  In the center is the Hills Brothers Coffee plant whose tower and rooftop sign were a familiar Rincon Hill sight for decades.

... and Now,  the tower has survived; so too has the sign.  The building is now a designated City Landmark but it has since been converted to gentrified upscale offices (Google being one of the tenants) and condominiums with a view.


    As Camerero stands to aim his gun at the passengers Larsen, who had pulled up behind the bus, and Jake both let him have it.

    After so many false leads and blind alleys they finally get their hands on the elusive 'grease gun'.


Then ...  The movie ends with a lingering shot of the scene of the showdown.  Pier 18 can't be seen - it's just off to the left of this view, but the adjacent Piers 20, 22 and 23 (seen in the 1955 aerial near the top of this post) had already been removed, opening up an unobstructed view of the bay and the bridge.

.. and Now,  today's view looks through Cupid's Span and across Rincon Park.


The Penalty - It's Who You Know

   The angry crowd continues its pursuit of Frisco Pete through Chinatown.  Note, as he rounds this corner, the painted-out Anchor Steam beer ad on the wall; remember, the movie was filmed shortly after the Prohibition ban became effective nationwide, on January 19, 1920.


Then ...  a wider view of the same corner is seen here as the crowd appears.  The painted-out beer sign was on the wall of the Guide Saloon.

... and Now,  this is Wentworth Place in Chinatown where it tees into Jackson Street (map). The corner store has since been expanded a few feet into Jackson below the overhang - today it's the traditional Chinese medicine store Wan Hua Co. at 665 Jackson - but the two side window openings on Wentworth set in the brick wall are still clearly visible even though they have been filled in.  The building exteriors facing us on Jackson have been significantly changed.


Then ...  Pete spots the amputee Blizzard crutching across Wentworth.  Blizzard is his boss and right now the only hope he has.  Wentworth Place had a notorious reputation back then - the row of businesses down the right (west) side all housed Chinese brothels.

... and Now,  Wentworth Place today, resurfaced and with cleaned-up businesses, presents a colorful appearance.


Then ...  Outside Blizzard's house Frisco Pete recounts his misdeed and beseeches his boss to help him out.  Realizing that doing so will give him even more power over his wayward lackey, he lets him hide inside.  Pete gets a reprieve - it's not what you know but who you know, just as important back then as it is today.

... and Now,  today's entrance to Blizzard's house, 59 Wentworth Place, is behind the white wrought iron security door.  The camera position is the same Then and Now but note that the sidewalk has since been widened, moving the lampposts outwards.

    This 1913 Sanborn Insurance map shows the location of Blizzard's house. (Back then #55, today it's re-addressed as #59).  Note the F.B. designation, Sanborn's abbreviation of 'Female Boarding', a euphemism for brothel.  With 3 saloons, a restaurant and 13 brothels, Wentworth must have been a busy place at night.


Then ...  Blizzard beckons to a passing cop ...

... and Now,  the east side of Wentworth Place.  The buildings facing us on Washington and most of those on Wentworth are the same as they were a hundred years ago except that the shopfronts have all been redone.


    The criminal mastermind has the police force in his pocket and all it takes is a wink-wink to get the cop to go down and disperse the crowd.


Harold And Maude - Hapless Cop - 2

Then ...   After planting the tree Maude drives Harold back over the Dumbarton Bridge along Highway 84.  When she passes the same cop who she humiliated earlier he can't believe his luck and immediately gives chase.

... and Now,  the same spot alongside a pylon on this now unused stretch of the highway (map) is seen here from the elevated causeway that replaced it.


Then ...   he catches up and has to pound on the car to catch her attention.  At the top of the hill is the toll plaza seen in their first encounter, viewed from the opposite direction.

... and Now,  as explained in the preceding post the toll plaza has been moved to a rerouted section of Highway 84.  Today this part of the original highway, Marshlands Road, is the access road to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Then ...   Eventually Maude deigns to pull over, not far from the toll booth.

... and Now,  that same roadside location (map).


Then ...   The cop orders them out of the car but when the unsuspecting clod gets in to check it out, Maude beckons Harold to his motorbike, he hops on behind her and with a roar they zoom off past the toll booths.

... and Now,  the same view today.

    The final ignominy for the hapless cop?  He takes a pot shot at them but his gun misfires.


The Laughing Policeman - Bus Chase

    The 55 Broadway bus, carrying Jake and Camerero, passes Washington Square Park on the left and Saints Peter and Paul Church on the right (map), about to make a left from Filbert Street into Stockton Street (in real life there was no such bus line).  Throughout the chase, click or tap the image or thumbnail to compare Then with Now.


    From Stockton the bus makes a right into Bay Street (map) with Larsen following in pursuit.


   They continue along Bay towards Pier 33 on the Embarcadero.


    This bus sure goes a long way between stops - here it has turned south down the Embarcadero heading towards Piers 31 and 29 and that's the Bay Bridge in the distance.  Today's Embarcadero is wider, with tram tracks and palm trees down the center.


    Larsen stays as close to the bus as he can.  He's passing the Pier 29 annex, originally the administrative offices for the State Belt Railroad that used to haul goods along the length of the Embarcadero.  While adjacent piers 25 and 27 have long since been demolished, that building remains as a lone survivor, now with an ADA-mandated ramp for the handicapped. 


    In his haste Larsen swerves, narrowly avoiding another car, before getting back on track.  This view looks north along the Embarcadero past Pier 9 on the right.  The north end of the Embarcadero Freeway swings left to the Broadway ramps but now the freeway is gone leaving a clear view of Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill.


    As they approach Pier 5 this shot shows why the Embarcadero Freeway was such a bad idea.  The ugly structure isolated the waterfront piers and the Ferry Building a little further on from the rest of the city.  Damage from the 1989 earthquake eventually led to the freeway's demise - the recent photo shows how opening up the area and adding tracks for the historic streetcar E and F lines has transformed the waterfront.  It also shows that the Pier 5 bulkhead was modified after the adjacent Pier 7 (just out of view at far left in the Then photo) was removed.


    Another bus gets in the way as they approach the Ferry Building on the left and the stylishly ramped Hyatt Regency hotel on the right.  The hotel today is surrounded by newer Financial District high-rise office buildings.


    Looking back to the north towards the oncoming bus the end of the freeway at Broadway curves off in the distance.  In the foreground Washington Street tees off to the left and there's a Chevron gas station further down, no longer there.


    On the bus, Camerero has had enough.  Just as he did at the start of the movie he opens his briefcase and furtively assembles his weapon.  This can only end badly, will this be another bus massacre?  The showdown must come.


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