Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Man Who Cheated Himself - Rooftop Chase

Then ...  The shooting suspect flees from the rear of the 322 Club ( see previous location) closely chased by detectives Ed and Andy Cullen.  By way of the power pole he climbs to a fire escape ladder leading to the roof.

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... and Now,  this is in Wentworth Place in Chinatown, looking south to Washington (map), largely unchanged other than newer lampposts.

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Then ...  Viewed in the opposite direction passers-by watch as Andy climbs in pursuit of the suspect.

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... and Now,  with Jackson Street crossing at the end of the narrow street it's hard to know if this is 1950 or 2013.  Don't you just love Chinatown!

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Then ...  But as Andy steps onto the roof we are back in Telegraph Hill!  Note the semi-circular tiled bay window roof on the house across the street ...

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... and Now,  here's that same house, it's at 330 - 334 Union Street.  The Russian Hill skyline is in the distance.

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... and Now,  across the street the arrow shows the ladder that Andy had used - it's the fire escape of the corner building complex that housed the old Speedy's Grocery store, now Acre/SF (map).  The doorway next to the store leading to 303 - 311 Union Street was used as the entrance to the 322 Club as described in the previous location.  Montgomery Street is on the left.

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Then ...  The rooftop chase reveals some cross-city views, this one towards Nob Hill.  On the skyline we see, from left to right, the Brocklebank Apartments (used as Madeleine's home in Vertigo), the partially built Grace Cathedral - then with only one tower, the 1250 Jones Street Apartments dead center and the Bently Nob Hill Apartments at 1360 Jones.

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... and Now,  there are many more buildings dotting the skyline these days but those mentioned above are still there.  The completed Grace Cathedral has twin towers; from the vantage point below they are hidden by the dark grey newer building but we can see its spire, yet to be built in the view above.  Today 1250 Jones is even more recognizable by its radio mast.

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Then ...  The suspect desperately looks for a way down ... the view past him follows Montgomery Street to the south.  The white building partially visible on the left is the Appraisers building at 630 Sansome Street.  Note that tiled hexagonal roof (arrowed) ...

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... and Now,  believe it or not, this is the same view down Montgomery - the financial district became the most developed part of the city.

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... and Now,  the tiled roof arrowed in the Then image above is at 1235 Montgomery (left arrow, below) and the suspect was on the roof of number 1255 (right arrow).  1255 has been remodeled since then and the original roof was a little lower.  The contemporary white building in the center wasn't there in 1950, it was a vacant lot.

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Then ...  It's supposedly the same roof but this shot cuts to a different location, obviously chosen because of three convenient level changes down to the street allowing for an easy (for the agile that is) descent.

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... and Now,  he was on the rooftop of 23 - 25 Castle Street, a narrow alley between Union and Green just a half block from where the preceding rooftop shot was filmed (map).  This nicely framed view from Green is enhanced by the nearby Coit Tower.

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  The pursuing Andy looks on as his brother Ed nabs the suspect right after he climbs down.  They've caught the liquor store killer but Ed's lame attempt to blame his lover's husband's murder on him (remember, it was the same gun) doesn't fit the known facts.

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Born To Kill - Two Murders

    Danny drives Helen's neighbor Laury back to her place but she's not yet ready to call it a night ...   "Come on in ... let's have a nightcap".

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Then ...  Her house had appeared earlier in the movie during the daytime, the middle one, below.

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... and Now,  CitySleuth has searched unsuccessfully in Reno for this location; of course it could have been filmed elsewhere, probably in Southern California.  Anyone who recognizes it is encouraged to contact


   Inside the house Laury's other boyfriend Sam lurks in wait in the kitchen and in no uncertain terms tells Danny to clear off.  A brief but shockingly ferocious fight ends with two fatal poker blows to Danny's head.

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  Laury hears the noise and comes in ... stunned by what she sees, she turns around and recognizes Sam.  But dead witnesses don't talk and it's the audience's turn to be stunned when she is quickly dispatched in the same way with the same poker.

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  Shortly after Sam leaves, Helen stops by and discovers the chilling scene.  Her reaction is surprisingly impassive but even more odd is what she does about it, or rather doesn't do, returning to her lodging room next door but refraining from calling the police.  Instead she quickly packs and heads to the station for the late train home to San Francisco.

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The Exiles - Columbine Beer Tavern

  ( A Bunker Hill movie in a San Francisco blog?  CitySleuth explains why).

  The Ritz, seen earlier, wasn't the only downtown bar popular with the Indian community.  Another was the Columbine, a few stagger-steps away.

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Then ...  This shot shows us where it was, at far right below, at 263 S. Main Street, kitty-corner from the Ritz near the intersecting 3rd Street (map)

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... and Now,  the storefronts have been modified some over time but the two floors above them have been removed.  The shutters and window-bars don't speak well of the neighborhood today - interesting isn't it that the 1950s, despite folks in general being much worse off than today, was a much safer time.

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Then ...  Behind Homer as he enters the Columbine we can make out some of the stores across the street.  Mortimer Levitt's liquor store is partially seen through the doorway at 252 Main, then California Clothing at 254 - 256, Reposo Cafe/Restaurant Mexicana at 258 and El Progreso Cafe at 260.

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... and Now,  a multi-story parking structure at 260 Main has replaced these businesses.

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Then ...  As the evening wears on the noise level in the bar rises and the cops attempt to keep a damper on things by making their presence known.

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... and Now,  no longer a bar, the site is a shadow of its former self.

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Then ...  The brightly lit store alongside the Columbine (seen in the street view six images above) was Moler's Barber College, perfectly located at 265 Main for those who wanted a cheap hair cut and didn't mind being a guinea pig for the trainees.  Moler's has been around since 1893 and is still in business, though not at this location.  Their haircut isn't 25 cents any more but is still a steal at $7.50.  But, caveat emptor.

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... and Now,  no longer a place to relax, this location is now a gym but customers can still catch up on the neighborhood gossip.  You'd hardly guess this is the same place until you notice the monogrammed threshold.

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The Man Who Cheated Himself - 322 Club

Then ...  The investigators go to the 322 Club in search of the fisherman's unemployed son who might have had access to the murder weapon.  They are reflected in the window of the venerable Speedy's, on the corner of Union Street and Montgomery atop Telegraph Hill (map).  In the distance Union Street dips down then soars up to Russian Hill.

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 ... and Now,  next to Speedy's the so-called club entrance leads into an apartment house, address 303 - 311 Union Street  - it never was a club in real life.  On a trivia note, Speedy's finally closed down in 2008 after serving the neighborhood for 93 years; the site is currently a boutique, Acre/SF.  Over the years Speedy's has appeared in several movies, as here in The House On Telegraph Hill in 1951.

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  Inside the club (presumably filmed in a studio)  the barman denies seeing the suspect, even as he sneaks out the back door.  But Andy spots him and the chase is on.

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Then ...  The back door is right behind him as the suspect bolts into a narrow street.  Remember that the front entrance was on Telegraph Hill? ...

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 ... and Now,  well, this is in Chinatown, 9 blocks away!  It's 66 Wentworth Place near Jackson (map), just one more example of locational trickery in the movies.

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Born To Kill - The Northern Club

Then ...  Helen returns to her rented room at a Reno boarding house on a well-to-do street lined with mature trees and lets her landlady know she will be returning to San Francisco the next morning.

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... and Now,  CitySleuth is still searching for this location and would be delighted if in the meantime a reader might recognize where it is and let him know.


Then ...  But first, one last fling, at the Northern Club casino where we get a glimpse of its glitzy neon awning and marquee.

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... from 1940 ...  Reader Sandra McGee informed CitySleuth that Reno's Northern Club was at 207 N. Center Street next to the Golden Hotel near 2nd (map).  It opened in 1931 but was sold in December 1940 and reopened as The Barn, subsequently becoming the Bonanza Club.  So, the Northern Club wasn't there when this movie was filmed and neither did it have such an elaborate marquee (see below at far left), leading CitySleuth to conclude that the movie club was a studio creation. (Image: University Archives, University of Nevada-Reno).

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and Now,  Reno's attempt to keep up with Las Vegas has transformed this part of town.  Both sides of this block have been gobbled up by Harrah's casino, seen here from the same north-facing vantage point.

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  The images below show the evolution of the Northern as it became first The Barn (left) then The Bonanza (right).  It went on to become Harrah's Bingo Club.

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  Helen is drawn to a lively craps table and joins in, betting against the shooter, Sam Wild (Lawrence Tierney).  An animal attraction is immediately apparent, a fateful meeting destined to doom them both.

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  Up walks a neighbor, Laury Palmer (Isabel Jewell) - she lives next door to Helen's boarding house - with a boyfriend, Danny (Tony Barrett).  She confides to Helen that she is also dating Sam but has brought Danny along to needle him and keep him honest.  As we shall find out, bad idea.

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