Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Born To Kill - Two meetings

Then ...  Helen wants to find out more about Marty and his relationship with Sam so she arranges to meet him in town.  Based on the window view looking east to the Bay Bridge they can only be at the Fairmont hotel atop Nob Hill.

  The same view was seen in the movie The Lady From Shanghai, below, released the same year.  From Nob Hill Sacramento Street runs down through the financial district just left of center towards the Ferry Building.

and Now ... in the Fairmont view today new highrise offices have replaced or hidden most of those buildings but the bridge is a constant and some of the foreground buildings are still there in Chinatown at bottom left.  The two tallest structures in the city are at far left (Transamerica Building) and far right (the formerly named Bank Of America Building at 555 California Street).


  Now this is interesting ...  Here's an earlier scene in the movie at the Mark Hopkins Hotel - in the window view the position of the Ferry Building tower relative to the bridge's central caisson is slightly different from the Fairmont's view (compare it to the top image), consistent with the one block separation of the two hotels.  But the waiters in each scene are wearing the same uniform (one waiter looks fatter than the other) and the potted plants are the same ones!  Clearly both scenes were filmed in the studio on the same soundstage but with different background projections setting their location.


Then ...  Helen next arranges a meeting with the detective Arnett.  She is torn; on the one hand she had tipped Arnett that Marty had visited Sam, on the other she wants to prevent Sam's arrest for murder.  They meet at a lonely spot near the Bay Bridge and once again Helen is wearing a stylish outfit (For a droll look at her wardrobe throughout this movie go here).

and Now ... This view of the bridge is from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco glittering across the bay.  The scene took place in the studio using a background projection filmed from an access ramp alongside the bridge (map).


  Helen offers Arnett $5,000 if he drops his investigation.  Unscrupulous and wily, he first reminds her that convicted murderers in Nevada get the death penalty then demands $15,000.  She has no option but to agree.  As they part he leans over ...

"Has it occurred to you, neither of us looks like a scoundrel ... do we?"


The Exiles - Hill 'X'

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

  The bars have closed but the night is not over for the Indian community.  In a tradition known as a '49', they congregate at an out of the way spot to continue drinking, to meet old friends, to chant and to dance, to sing traditional tribal songs, to remember old times.

  A procession of cars makes its way up to the top of a hill they call Hill 'X'.  The carousers spill out and the party is on!


Then ...  In the glittering view across Los Angeles the City Hall tower, its upper portion illuminated, is the main feature at right of center and at far left is the dark outline of the downtown gasworks (click image to enlarge).

... in 1960 ...  this vintage photo shows us where they were (arrowed).  This is the Chavez Ravine hill (map) and even though this was taken only two years after the filming, the hill had already been transformed by the partially built Dodger Stadium with the Indians' former gathering spot now swallowed up by the stadium parking lot.  In the distance City Hall is dead center; the gasworks is to the left alongside the Los Angeles river.

... and Now,  in this recent aerial view the faintly visible City Hall is left of center but the gasworks is long gone.


  It doesn't take long for the music to begin.  For this shoot, director MacKenzie hired professional entertainer Eddie Sunrise, center, who was performing at Disneyland at the time.  As the night wears on everyone is drawn in by the drumming, becoming part of the singing and dancing.  Beer flows, skirmishes erupt, a good time is had by all.

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Then ...  Dawn finally breaks over the cool, grey city giving the worn-out celebrants a different, sobering view (click image to enlarge).

... and Now,  City Hall is still there but it's the towering downtown structures that now command attention from here.


  The party breaks up, people disperse and Homer and friends head for their cars to return to the real world.  Or is their real world the one they are about to leave?

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The Conversation - Harry Caul's Apartment

  Caul lived in the 3-story Sylvia Apartments at 700 Laguna Street, on the corner of Grove in the Hayes Valley section of the Western Addition (map).  Here's a recent photo of the front door.

Then ...  Caul lets himself into the apartment building.  No iron security front gate back then.

... and Now,  It's been 40 years but it's still the same old lobby.


Then ...  Upstairs on the second floor corridor he has just passed apartment 206 on his left, 208 is on our left and he is heading for his apartment at the end of the corridor, # 207, just off the right of this picture.

... and Now,  the same corridor no longer has a molding strip along the upper walls and the  light fixtures and doors and casings have been replaced.  It was a little classier then.


Then ...  CitySleuth composited several interior shots to come up with this overall panorama of Caul's apartment, created by combining apartments 206 and 207 into one unit (click image to enlarge).  The 207 entrance leads from the corridor into the apartment from the far right and the two bay windows on the left wall look out directly across Laguna.  The building seen across the street at far left was being torn down as this scene was filmed, coinciding with the tail end of the Western Addition 'urban renewal' program that saw the demolition of 2500 Victorian homes.


... and Now,  street views from interior scenes led CitySleuth to conclude that the apartment was on the second level, highlighted in red.    The building was built in 1928 and was mostly vacant when Coppola filmed the movie but it survived the demolition taking place all around it.  Birch Street intersects on the left.


Then ...  The kitchen is at the corner of the building and its west view looks across Laguna along Birch towards apartments on Buchanan Street.

... and Now,  Here's the same view today taken from street level; those same apartments in the distance are still there, the matching top story can be seen above a newer building.


Born To Kill - The Wedding

  Marty joins the other guests at Sam and Georgia's wedding, held at Georgia's home.   Helen is the Maid Of Honor but has a hard time maintaining her composure during that passionate kiss.


Then ...  While the reception is in full swing Arnett shows up.  He suspects Sam's involvement in the murder and needs evidence to back it up.

... and Now,  supposedly San Francisco but this was filmed in Southern California at the Villa Arden at 1145 Arden Road, Pasadena (map).  The house was also seen earlier in the movie.


Then ...  Arnett adopts his best hangdog expression and knocks on the door of the servant's quarters.  His plan is to feign hunger, offer to work for a meal, and find out as much as he can from the staff.

... and Now,  In this recent aerial view of the Villa Arden the arrow points to that side door.


  The housekeeper alerts Helen to the stranger asking lots of questions in the kitchen.  When she demands to see his I.D. and finds out he is a private eye checking up on Sam the audience wonders how she will react.  Will she tell her sister?  Don't hold your breath for too long, it is a film noir after all.


The Exiles - Closing Time

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

It's 2 a.m. and the bars are closing.  Homer watches the goings-on from the back of his buddy's car parked outside a bar.  He muses about how Indians like to get together at that time  "to get out there and just be free, where nobody won't watch you ... nobody watching every move you make".

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Then ...  As the staff turfs everybody out we recognize this as the Ritz Cafe, described in an earlier post.

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Then ...  A daytime shot seen later in the movie gives us a better view.  It was at 312 1/2 S. Main Street, sandwiched between the Olympic Men's Shop at No. 310 and the Olympia Barber Shop at No. 314.

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... and Now,  this part of the block has become a parking lot.

11 - closing time 2 ritz now.jpg

Then ...  A large crowd has gathered directly across the street in the Scott and Freeland restaurant at 325 S. Main Street (its menu can be seen covering most of the back wall).  The commotion at the bar has caught the attention of both police and bystanders.

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... and Now,  the restaurant is long gone; this part of the Ronald Reagan State Building now covers its location.

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Then ...  A scuffle on the sidewalk, and a drunk is arrested.  This is still Main Street, looking south across 3rd.  In the distance along Main over to the left we can just make out the last few letters of the vertical Hotel Barclay sign at the corner of Main and 4th and the Hotel Rosslyn sign at the corner of Main and 5th.

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... and Now,  the Hotel Barclay sign is still there as too is that of the Hotel Rosslyn, although it is obscured from this viewpoint by a lamppost.  As just mentioned a large part of the 300 S. block ahead on the right which contained the Ritz Cafe has been converted to a parking lot.

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  The camera that captured the arrest was set up in front of the El Progreso bar at 260 S. Main Street - we caught a glimpse of the bar in another shot from the movie, below, filmed from 3rd Street.

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