Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Exiles - Joyride

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

  At the Ritz bar Homer's well-oiled buddies Tommy and Cliff pick up friends Claudine and Mary.  They hop into Cliff's car.

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Then ...  they pull out and head north on Main Street.  3rd Street crosses ahead of them. and the floodlit City Hall peaks (pun intended) over the building at upper left.

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... and Now,  the area has been completely rebuilt but City Hall is still there.

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  With the top down and wind in their hair they whoop and holler at high speed west through the 3rd Street tunnel.  Tommy has a bottle and cigarette in hand and is feeling no pain.

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Then ...  They exit the tunnel on the 700 block of 3rd Street.  On the far right is the narrow Cinnabar Street and further down the block we can see the lighted sign of Jack's Cafe at 731 W. 3rd.

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... and Now,  again, unrecognizable.  A major civic redevelopment in the 1950s and 60s transformed the vibrant if dilapidated area into a stretch of wide, soul-less streets and modern commercial buildings.  Cinnabar Street disappeared altogether, becoming a site housing a Veolia Energy facility (map) providing heating and cooling to private companies (on the right, below).

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... in 1952 ...  a few years earlier in the movie Sudden Fear Jack Palance prowled past this same Cinnabar Street junction looking for Joan Crawford, intent on killing her.  Compare it with the Then image above.

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  Some 3 miles on they pull into Hane's Magnum service station at 3510 W. Sunset Boulevard (map) and stop so suddenly that Tommy nearly tips into the front seat.  He speaks in voiceover, talking of how he likes to get high on drink ... "That's what drinks are for" ... and couldn't care less that it sends him in and out of jail.

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  The freeloaders hang back when the  attendant asks for the gas money, leaving Mary to pay it.  Then while she is in the restroom and after they pocket her change they impatiently take off, leaving her stranded.  What jerks!

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Then ...  As they leave we can't help but think that those gas prices were a better deal than today.  Sure enough, allowing for inflation, $0.28 then would be around $2.40 now, a price we haven't seen in California in years.  The cinematography effectively utilizes the symmetry of the gas pumps, lined up as they are in regimental ranks.

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... and Now,  this location has become a strip mall in which a restaurant, Alegria On Sunset, now owns the service station's 3510 W. Sunset Boulevard street address.

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The Man Who Cheated Himself - Fugitives

   Ed Cullen's younger brother Andy has figured out that Lois Frazer was responsible for the murder of her husband and that Ed had covered it up.  Putting aside family loyalties he informs the authorities and an all-points bulletin is put out for their arrest.  The lovers hear it over the radio as they try to flee the city.


Then ...  They make a quick U-turn and head for the nearest city exit, the Golden Gate Bridge, seen in the distance.  (Click the image to enlarge it).

 ... and Now,  hardly changed in over 60 years, this is in the upscale Sea Cliff neighborhood on El Camino Del Mar near Sea Cliff Avenue (map).  (Click the image to enlarge it).






Then ...  Now on Doyle Drive, aka highway 101, they are approaching the bridge toll booths.

... and Now,  the bridge is way busier than it was in 1950.  The toll booths are just off the picture on the left.


Then ...  Uh - oh, the cops have beaten them to it and have the bridge closed off.

... and Now,  some changes have taken place at the toll booths since then the biggest of which is the absence of toll-collectors, displaced in 2013 by Fastrak sensors and license plate cameras.  But there's still a clock mounted in the center.

... a vintage photo ...  here's a contemporaneous c. 1950 photo that adds color to the same location.  Note the black-and-whites at far right.


Then ...  The last San Francisco exit, into the Presidio, is right before the toll booths and Cullen takes it to avoid the roadblock.  They decide to hide out at Fort Point and he is next seen heading there, turning into Long Avenue from Lincoln Boulevard (map).  A sweeping vista of the Marina district and the City beyond catches our eye.

... and Now,  one of those piers has been removed otherwise the marina looks as inviting as it always has.  The city skyline of course has seen many changes and the tall white tower in the upper left quadrant is the new Eastern Bay Bridge structure.

... in 1947 ...  coincidentally, or not, the same location was filmed three years earlier when Lauren Bacall drove Humphrey Bogart to her apartment in the movie Dark Passage.


Then ...  Long Avenue runs into Marine Drive which in turn dead-ends at Fort Point.  The camera pans from left to right, following them along Marine Drive.  (Click the image to enlarge it).

... and Now,  the same panorama today from the same vantage point.  The camera was set up in front of Fort Point (map).  (Click the image to enlarge it).

... in 1957 ...  Alfred Hitchcock must have seen this movie.  When Scottie follows Madeleine in Vertigo in the fall of 1957 the director used the identical panorama.  Note that the old lighthouse keepers' houses on the right seen in the Then image above and the Vertigo image below are no longer there.


Then ...  Cullen reaches his destination, old Fort Point, an army garrison once a proud lonely sentinel but now dwarfed by the towering Golden Gate Bridge.

... and Now,  it seems time has stood still here in the 60-plus years since the movie was made.


Born To Kill - Mrs. Kraft Hires A Detective

Laury Palmer may be dead, but her next-door neighbor Mrs. Kraft will never forget her.  She is determined the rat who killed her will be found and in the scenes that follow hires a detective to make sure it happens.

Then ...  Back in Reno we are introduced to the detective Matthew Arnett (Walter Slezak) while he has his morning cup of coffee.  The coffee shop scene was filmed on a sound stage but we can infer its location by the kitty-corner window view showing a glimpse of the Reno Arch.

... in the 1940s ...   in this contemporaneous image from a vintage postcard the building at far left is the corner building above.  Part of Harolds Club, it was on the southeast corner of Virginia Street and Commercial Row (map).

... in 1955 ...   the same block was seen behind Kim Novak in the Reno heist movie '5 Against The House'.  Again we can see a glimpse of the Reno arch slogan.  By then the corner building had been changed - compared to the Then image above it has many more windows on the second floor.

... and Now,  that whole block of casinos has been completely rebuilt since arch-rival Harrahs took over Harolds.  In 1963 the arch was replaced by a redesigned version  (the old one can still be seen five blocks away at Lake Street by the bridge over the Truckee River).  That in turn gave way in 1986 to yet another arch, still there, below.


  So the virtual location of the coffee shop was kitty-corner from the above on the northwest corner of Virginia and Commercial Row.  Instead of a coffee shop there was a Flying 'A' gas station at that location back then.


Then ...  Mrs. Kraft (Esther Howard) meets Arnett across from the Washoe County Courthouse on Virginia Street, featured in the opening scene of the movie.

... and Now,  the county courthouse has not changed. 


  Despite being taken aback at Arnett's nerve in asking for a $500 advance she hires him anyway.  (The wiley gumshoe had already found out that Mrs. Kraft had inherited Laury's house and money).


The Exiles - 3rd Street Tunnel

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

  Homer and his friend Rico stop by Rico's pad by way of the 3rd Street tunnel. 


Then ...  They first swing by the newspaper stand at the lower terminus of the Angels Flight funicular (described earlier in this blog) on the southwest corner of Hill and 3rd Street (map) where the impassive, ever patient vendor waits for the next late night customer.

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... and Now,  here's how this corner looks today.

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Then ...  As they walk across Hill Street in this panorama the 3rd Street tunnel regresses behind them for three blocks to where it emerges near Flower Street.   At far left is the Redondo Cafe at 301 S. Hill Street next to Angels Flight (with the newspaper stand) and at far right is the Royal Liquor store at 259 S. Hill (click image to enlarge).

... and Now,  it became a very different junction after the massive redevelopment of the late 1950s and 1960s.  The buildings on either side of the junction were razed and Angels Flight was relocated a half block south.  The tunnel is still there but its entrance was extended to create a foundation for the modern structure built above it (click image to enlarge).

... in 1957 ...  the vintage photo below captured the same junction by day.

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... in 1965 ...  and here's what urban cleansing had wrought just a few years later.

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Then ...  Rico nips into the Royal Liquor store for a bottle of booze then they head through the tunnel on their way to his rented rooms, swigging the bottle (overtly wrapped in a paper bag - who are they trying to fool?) as they go.

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... and Now, a recent photo reveals that the tunnel looks just the same inside, except for the painted-over graffiti (a modern, not a 1950s, phenomenon).

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  They climb the stairs to the third level of this apartment house to get to Rico's place. 

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  And when they leave we see, from the third level balcony, the narrow alley they took to get there and also a view across the city.  But where was this location?  CitySleuth would like to know and appeals to his Angeleno readers to figure it out.

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The Man Who Cheated Himself - Andy Is Puzzled

  If it's a genuine San Francisco police thriller then it has to include the old Hall Of Justice.  This movie is no exception.

Then ...  Taking a break from the murder investigation the two brothers leave the Hall Of Justice on their way to lunch. 

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  A year earlier in the 1949 movie Impact a reluctant witness flees from the same main exit.

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... and Now,  the old Hall Of Justice faced Portsmouth Square Plaza from its location at 750 Kearny Street in Chinatown.  It was demolished in 1967 and replaced by a Holiday Inn hotel, now the Hilton San Francisco Financial District (map).

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Then ...  They walk the few steps to the Yen Yen Cafe at 716 Kearny on the corner of Merchant Street.  Its sign juts out, barely visible here above Andy's fedora.

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  Three years earlier in 1947's The Lady From Shanghai it was the turn of Orson Welles to flee the building.  In the image below the Yen Yen Cafe sign is clearly seen.

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... and Now,  there's still a Chinese eatery, the Garden Restaurant, at that location.  The same view reminds us though that the imposingly stolid Hall Of Justice is gone.

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Then ...  Inside the cafe Andy cannot understand why Ed persists in trying to pin the Frazer murder on the youth who shot the liquor store owner.  Yes it was the same gun but the evidence suggested he didn't have access to it until after Frazer was killed.  Portsmouth Square Plaza is seen across Kearny through the window but what's that white building in the park?

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... and Now,  the plaza today is no longer a gently sloping open space - it was sacrificed to make way for a huge underground car park and replaced by two uninspired levels, more grey than green.

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  And that white building?  It was a replica of the city's first schoolhouse, originally located at Portsmouth Square, which happened to be on display in the plaza for the California Centennial observance when the movie was filmed.  CitySleuth came across this 1951 image of the schoolhouse being moved from the plaza to City College, slated to be a museum exhibit.

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  There isn't a view of the front of the Yen Yen Cafe in the movie but in this capture from The Lady of Shanghai filmed three years earlier as Rita Hayworth runs through the plaza we can see the half block of Kearny between Merchant (just off the left edge of the picture) and Clay Street to the right.  The white van on the left is parked in front of the cafe.  The awning just to the right of the van belonged to Puccinelli Bail Bonds at 714 Kearny (also visible in the other Lady From Shanghai image above).

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... and Now,  the half block today still looks the same except for different store tenants.  The Garden Restaurant at left has expanded from the original Yen Yen Cafe corner space and now spans the full width of the host Wood Building.

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