Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Penalty - Murder At The Hippodrome

Then ...  The Barbary Coast is not a place for the faint of heart, nor the overly inebriated, as this unfortunate imbiber is about to find out.  He makes the mistake of accepting an offer from a shady lady, Barbary Nell, to join her for a drink.  He's so out of it that she practically has to carry him into the bar.

    Lon Chaney and director Wallace Worsley returned to the same location in 1922 to film Voices Of Spring.  Here they are on the sidewalk next to the same sign seen above.

... a vintage photo ...  This 1920s photo reveals where this was filmed - at the entrance vestibule of the Hippodrome dance hall at 560 Pacific Avenue (map).

... and Now,  the building, constructed in 1910, has since been modernized and rebuilt into offices.  But note the narrow building on the right - it still retains its original exterior.  This mix of cheek by jowl old and new typifies today's Jackson Square neighborhood.


   When the drunk passes out she helps herself to the contents of his wallet and stuffs it into her stocking...

    ... but as she sneaks out an unsavory addict known as Frisco Pete (perennial villain James Mason - the other one) demands the spoils.  She resists, a fatal mistake ... he callously thrusts a knife into her. 


 Then ...  The crowd on the dance floor, alerted by Nell's screams, take off after the fleeing killer.

... and Now,  Were these interior scenes filmed inside the Hippodrome?  In hopes of finding the answer CitySleuth is searching for but has yet to find a contemporaneous photograph that may show that stage as confirmation.  But, just in case, here's the hip interior of 560 Pacific Avenue now.


Then ...  The pursuers rush out into the street between the twin columns that flanked the Hippodrome's entrance.

... and Now,  in the same view today the yellow-capped parking meter stands where the columned entrance used to be.  During the Barbary Coast era the older building on the left at 574 Pacific - with an exterior retaining its original character - was Spider Kelly's Bar Room.


Harold And Maude - Save That Tree!

Then ...  Our odd couple head over San Bruno Mountain from their Half Moon Bay visit, on the way passing the large building below that sticks out like a sore thumb.

... and Now,  this is Visitacion Valley and McLaren Park to the north of Guadalupe Canyon Parkway from the spot marked on this map.  (The better-known Cow Palace is just out of sight off to the left).  The incongruous structure is gone, having been demolished by controlled implosion in 1998.  These were the twin Geneva Towers, a 576 unit public housing project built in 1967 that deteriorated into unmaintained squalor and drug-dealing prior to its being shut down.  For more information and a video of its sudden demise see here.

   Three years earlier Geneva Towers appeared in this shot of the bad guy in the high speed pursuit along Guadalupe Canyon Parkway during the thrilling Bullitt car chase.


Then ...  Maude is in high spirits today ... we next see her doing tight 360's around the junction of Marshall and Hamilton Streets in Redwood City (map).

... and Now,  Marshall Street crosses in the foreground and the building on the left is the San Mateo County Superior Courthouse.


Then ...  As Maude heads west on Marshall past the courthouse on the right the straggly potted tree in the foreground catches her eye.  She screeches to a halt, mounting the sidewalk, to the consternation of the passersby.

... and Now,  the buildings ahead are new but the U.S. mail is still picked up here.


    She is determined to save that tree.  As they discuss the best way to haul it away some cops are about to exit the courthouse and start checking out Maude's (well, the borrowed) straddled car.


Then ...  Without skipping a beat she beckons Harold into a Mustang conveniently parked in front of the cops and roars loudly off around the corner...

... and Now,  a new correctional facility has since been built across the street but the corner itself is still very recognizable.


    "Did I just see what I thought I saw...?"


Dark Passage - Irene's Apartment - Real versus Movie Set

    The preceding three posts introduced us to Irene's apartment at the art deco Malloch house at 1360 Montgomery Street, #10.  We learned that the exteriors were filmed at that address but the interiors, in order to optimize sound and lighting, were shot on a studio sound stage.  In April 2016 CitySleuth was alerted by reader Cynthia that the Montgomery Street apartment was up for sale -  the open house allowed him to compare the real apartment with the movie's version.  (By the way, it quickly sold for $1,500,000). 

    Here's the floor plan of the real apartment, a 1 bed 1 bath single floor unit on the 3rd floor.  At the north side of the house the Filbert Steps head down the hill from street level (the last photo in this earlier post).

    And here's the floor plan, roughly to scale, of the movie set.  It is still a 1 bed 1 bath unit but there are significant differences, the most obvious being the bedroom which is now upstairs, accessed by a sinuous metal staircase.  The fireplace has been moved across the living room, as has the kitchen, and there's an added den.  The bedroom is an unusual shape; CitySleuth surmises it was done this way to create extra space on either side of the bed for the camera crew. 


Then (movie) ...  An earlier post explained how the apartment's east view across the patio from the living room was a backdrop photo, flipped left to right, of a nearby north facing view of Angel Island.

... and Now (real),  the east view looks out to Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge.  Much prettier.  Why the moviemakers didn't use this view is anybody's guess.  But note how carefully they reproduced the art deco patio wall design, even down to the flowerpot holders integrated into the railing.


Then (movie) ...  Looking in from the patio on a rainy night, this shot across the living room shows off its centerpiece, the bedroom staircase.

... and Now (real),  no staircase, a compact kitchen straight ahead (note the art deco pattern on the cabinets) and a circular dining space over to the right.  The apartment entrance is on the left, past the closet down the corridor which continues on to the bedroom on the same level.


Then (movie) ...  Irene's view from her patio was once again created with a flipped photo, of old Telegraph Hill cottages on the Filbert Steps as described in more detail in this earlier post.

... and Now (real),  here's the actual patio view including a closer look at the flowerpot holders.  This time the movie view is superior.


Then (movie) ...  The wall behind the bed is at an angle relative to the window wall.

... and Now (real),  the window wall is straight and leads to a small walk-in dressing room.


Then (movie) ...  The view looking down from the bedroom window shows the Filbert Steps linking Montgomery Street's lower and upper levels; across the street they continue up to Coit Tower.  Note the absence of mature trees at that time.

... and Now (real),  comparing with the actual view from apartment #10's bedroom window the parallax differences reveal that the movie's view was taken from a higher level in keeping with its bedroom's upstairs location.  And, it was filmed from a spot more to the right, closer to the building's north side; apparently on the rooftop at the building's northwest corner.

Then ...  Apartment #10 is at the bottom of this frame on the 3rd floor; for this brief exterior shot inserted during a scene in Irene's bedroom the moviemakers used the 4th floor apartment's bedroom so as to represent Irene's.

... and Now,  when CitySleuth took this matching photo on an earlier visit there was a Bogart cutout displayed in the bedroom window of apartment #10.  (CitySleuth saw it propped behind a door during the open house).  Note too the absence of ugly power lines, now underground.


The Laughing Policeman - Flushing Him Out

Then ...  Tailing Camerero has so far failed to lead Jake and Larsen to the supplier of the 'grease gun' - the murder weapon.  It's time for some psychological warfare.  In a ploy to rattle him Jake asks Larsen to go to Camerero's office and drop off the wartime photo they found of him with one of the murdered bus victims.  (Patience, dear reader, it's a convoluted story but the location shots are great).  His office is at One Embarcadero Center, also seen earlier in the movie;  below, the dogged duo are on the promenade level where a Willi Gutman sculpture rises behind them.

... and Now,  the sculpture is still there, partially hidden by the Landmark Theatre structure that has since been added.  Partially hidden too is the iconic Transamerica pyramid in the background.

    That same sculpture made an appearance in Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, filmed around the same time.  The One Embarcadero highrise behind it, below, is the building on the left, above.


Then ...  They keep watch on his car but he doesn't take the bait.

... and Now,  this is Level A of One Embarcadero Center's underground garage.


    Larsen even tries to persuade Monica, the nurse he had interviewed earlier, to call Camerero pretending to be somebody else.  She finds the whole idea hilariously against the law and isn't persuaded.   But what and where was this quirky place?  And who was MacPhee?  Two readers have suggested Napper Tandy's, a little pub/entertainment place on the Plaza next to the Hyatt on Union Square.  CitySleuth would like to find a contemporaneous photo that could confirm or rule this out.


Then ...  Another futile day of shadowing ends at Camerero's home.  The address, displayed on the side wall as 85 St. Elmo, tells us where it is ....

... and Now,  over 40 years later at 85 St. Elmo Way in the upscale hillside neighborhood of Monterey Heights (map), despite the magnificent tree being taller and sturdier, the lamps flanking the entrance now gone and the address sign moved to the other side, the home still looks as it was.


    Jake decides it's time to confront the suspect directly.  He shows up at his Embarcadero Center office (with an east-facing view towards Yerba Buena Island) but Camerero tells his secretary to say he is not there.  Clearly though, he's rattled; they are on to him.


Then ...  Jake tells Larsen he knows Camerero was there so they wait for him outside the building's garage.  When his Mercedes pulls out, they are about to embark on a wild car chase across the city ...

... and Now,  this is the Battery Street exit of One Embarcadero's underground garage (map); there's now an added staircase over on the left.


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