Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Harold And Maude - Sunflowers and Daisies

    They stroll alongside a pond, their images reflected in the water (to help find the location, CitySleuth has inverted the movie image).  The yellow flowers prompt Maude to declare she would like to change into a sunflower... "They're so tall and simple... what flower would you like to be?".


 Then ...  Harold isn't sure... as their voiceover continues they are seen, upper left, sitting amongst a sea of daisies planted row upon row... "One of these maybe... because they're all alike".  (That's the lower end of those rows behind them in the reflection above).

... and Now,  here's the pond, now overgrown, that captured their reflection; the daisy field was on the far slope but now lies fallow.  It was filmed at the Cozzolino Nursery farm at 11881 San Mateo road (Highway 92) on the outskirts of the coastal town of Half Moon Bay (map).  CitySleuth is grateful to the Cozzolinos for allowing him access to their property.

    Here's a detailed south-facing aerial view of the farm today.    The different parts of the property that appear during this movie scene are highlighted.


    But Maude disagrees with Harold, pointing out that no two daisies are alike... "some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals - all kinds of observable differences".  It's her way of saying that, in our own way, we are all unique.

 Then ...  In a poignant juxtaposition the director cuts to a military cemetery, presenting a stark contrast between life and death.  Unlike Maude's daisies, the headstones are identical and regimented.

... and Now,  this is the northwest view from the overlook at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno (map).  Another view of this cemetery is seen later in the movie.

   For those wanting to visit this spot, the overlook is shown on Circle Drive on the map below.


 Then ...  As Maude drives down from the daisy field the farmhouse at 11881 San Mateo Road (marked on the aerial map above) is seen in the foreground.  At the far left the light glints off a spillway leading down from the pond.

... and Now,  an exterior closet has since been added to the farmhouse. The arrow points to where the daisy field was planted.


 Then ...  They continue on over a bridge (marked on the aerial map above) .

... and Now,  the bridge links the farmhouse driveway over Pilarcitos Creek to the road.


Then ...  She screeches onto the road, by way of the opposite lane.  (Incidentally, actress Ruth Gordon could not drive so all of Maude's driving scenes used a stunt driver).

... and Now,  this corner is referred to by the locals as the 'House Of Doors' corner.  Read on for the reason why.


Then ...  She over-corrects and barrels by on this side of the power pole past two hitchhikers who can't quite take in what they just saw.

... and Now,  this spot is also pointed out on the aerial map above.  On the far right across the street is the pathway entrance to 11880 San Mateo Road, a funky old house known locally as the 'House Of Doors'.

    The house, seen below in an early 1980s photo, is so-named because it was literally built out of old wooden doors, reportedly by a German saloon-keeper who is said to have acquired the doors from dismantled buildings when San Francisco's 1915 Pan-Pacific Exposition closed down.  A more recent photo is seen in this listing when, refurbished, it sold in 2013 for $345,000.


The Laughing Policeman - Cruising

    Tailing the suspect around town has convinced Larsen of one thing: "He's a classic fruiter", he tells Jake.  Meanwhile Camerero, possibly aware that he's being followed, gets bolder, leading them on a tour of some of the city's gay bars.

Then ... They catch up with him in the Tenderloin neighborhood across from the Minerva Cafe, a greek taverna at 136 Eddy Street (map), in the storefront of the Empress Hotel.

... and Now,  the 100 block of Eddy Street has hardly changed.  The Empress Hotel is still there but the cafe is long gone.

    The cafe, seen here in a 1974 photo, was owned and managed by restauranteur Vasilios Glimidakis and was one of three Greek eateries within the space of one block.  It seated 250, offered both dining and dancing and was a popular venue for social events and political dinners and luncheons.


Then ... Camerero's destination is The Ramrod, a pickup gay bar at 1225 Folsom Street in the SoMa district (map).

    Here's a 1970s photo of the bar, at far right, as it would have looked when the movie was filmed.  To say it was popular with the biker/leather crowd would be an understatement.

... and Now,  The Ramrod opened in the late 1960s and the bar is still in business but has cycled through many names over the years - My Place, Cip, Chaps, Kok (!); it's currently called Driftwood.  As can be seen, windows have since been added to the frontage.


Then ...  Inside The Ramrod, leather seems to be de rigueur.  But Camerero, suavely dapper in suit and sunglasses, doesn't seem to fit in and, not finding what he wants anyway, decides to try elsewhere.

... and Now,  the shape of the bar has been redone otherwise the feel of the place looks to be much the same.  Driftwood's clientele is more mixed than in the past but it continues to be popular with the gay community.


    His next stop, plusher and with entertainment and a canopied ceiling,  seems more his type of place. 

    When Larsen steps out we see where this was - the Frolic Room mid-block at 141 Mason Street at the edge of the Tenderloin (map)just around the corner from the Minerva Cafe where we saw Camerero at the beginning of this post.

Then ...  Larsen joins Jake in their unmarked car across the street to continue the surveillance.  They watch as Camerero, pickup in tow, exits the club.  Just past the small parking lot is another bar at 111 Mason, previously the Robin Hood Tavern before being renamed the Chez Paree.

... and Now,  a community affordable housing building now sits on the site of the Frolic Room and the parking lot.  But there's still a tavern at 111 Mason - the Union Square Sports Bar; its marquee awning has survived too.

    CitySleuth recognizes that sexy-leg Chez Paree sign in the Then image above.  He would bet you a dime to a dollar that this was the sign, below, that used to adorn the Barbary Coast club at 533 Pacific Avenue in the International Settlement during the 1950s (also seen here in Frank Sinatra's 1957 movie Pal Joey).  Same sign, different name.


   They follow the pair to a townhouse apartment where a little "love in the afternoon", as Larsen snidely puts it, prompts the closing of the drapes.

Then ...  The townhouse is the one seen across the way, beyond Larsen's shoulder.   By now the two cops are beginning to get frustrated at not being able to get Camerero to drop his guard.

... and Now,  this was filmed at Sydney G. Walton Square park by the footbridge that links the park across Jackson Street to the Davis Court Apartments.  Named after a San Francisco banker, the park was built in 1960 at the north end of  the city's former Produce Market (map).  Today's comparative view shows just how much the Financial District has proliferated over the years.


I Remember Mama - Katrin sells a story

    Katrin shrieks with delight when a letter arrives from Florence Dana Morehead's publisher with a check for $500.  She has sold her first story.  That was a very large chunk of change back in 1910.  But a moment of awkwardness intervenes when she asks Mama to put it into their bank account. "Is no bank account", she finally confesses, "Never in my life have I been inside a bank".  She had lied all those years so that the children would feel secure.


    They gather around to hear Katrin read them her story.  Mama is taken aback as she realizes it's about her, not Papa as she had suggested.


    She is deeply touched, captured by this lingering closeup viewed through the home's front bay window.


    As she listens to Katrin describe the family members the camera backs up then slowly swings to the right, tracing a panorama of the street outside, bathed in the city's wafting mist.


    This was filmed on the RKO Studios street set described in a previous post.  In this shot on the set seen earlier in the movie Mama's house with the bay window is on the left; the houses on either side at the top of the hill are the same as those seen above.  To film that panorama the elevated camera was set up just behind the car.  


    And so the movie ends as Katrin recites the best-known line from the novel, the Broadway play, and the movie...  "But first and foremost, I Remember Mama".


>   Previous Location

Harold And Maude - Demolition

    Maude wants to know what Harold does when he isn't visiting funerals?  Cut to a construction site where a wrecking ball is demolishing a building;  They watch intently from a balcony across the way.

    But where was this filmed?  The only skimpy clue that may still be around is that house on the right; CitySleuth has yet to find the location and appeals to his readers for help ...


Then ...  They move on to a scrapyard, fascinated by the clattering sounds of recycling at work.  In this view from the crane's cab there's a message emblazoned on the hillside in the distance proudly proclaiming 'South San Francisco - The Industrial City'.  It enabled this location to be pinpointed.

... and Now,  here's that site today, a bare lot next to Exelixis, a genomics company seen on the right at 170 Harbor Way in South San Francisco.  This map shows its location with a red marker and, in blue, the hillside sign location, on the aptly named Sign Hill just below Sign Hill Park.  If you compare these Then and Now images closely you can match up some of the pylons of the PG&E substation across Gateway Boulevard.  

    This recently taken aerial photograph gives us a closer look at the Sign Hill slogan.  First appearing in 1923, the letters were made permanent in 1929 using gunite, a new material back then, now widely used for forming swimming pools. Cleverly, to compensate for hillside changes in slope, the letter heights vary so that from ground level perspective they appear the same.  The city of South San Francisco has morphed over the last century from heavy to light industry,  in particular establishing itself as a biotechnology center.


Then ...  Back to the scrapyard; this time the camera looks in the opposite direction across Harbor Way.

... and Now, from the same spot today we see a covered bridge crossing Harbor Way, linking two Exelixis buildings.


Then ...  But rather than witnessing things being destroyed Maude's preference is watching things grow.  In a greenhouse she explains to Harold how the plants represent an affirmation of life - the gospel according to Maude, one might say.

   CitySleuth came across an unconfirmed claim that this was filmed at the Avansino-Mortensen Nursery in San Bruno (this map shows where it was).  If so, it would have been one of the cluster of greenhouses seen in this c. 1950 aerial photo of the nursery in its prime.  Sneath Lane separates the greenhouses from the Golden Gate National Cemetery on the right and across El Camino Real along the bottom that's the Tanforan horse-racing track.  Its grandstand is partially visible on the left.

... and Now, two new freeways meeting at the 280/380 interchange now dominate this same aerial view.  The nursery served the Bay Area's flower market for 45 years from 1929 until it was dismantled in the 1970s.  Tanforan racetrack, opened in 1899, was replaced by a shopping mall in 1971.


Click in this box to search this site ...