Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Harold And Maude - Dates From Hell

    Harold's mother has decided that it's time for him to be married.  No girlfriends?  No problem!  She fills out a questionnaire from a computer dating service, reading the questions out loud but filling in the answers herself.  She doesn't seem to notice he has taken a gun from its box and is methodically loading the bullets.

   This and the scenes of the three dates that Mother sets up were filmed inside the Rosecourt Mansion at 10 Stacey Court in Hillsborough, described in an earlier post.  Here's a recent aerial view of the home. 

    As she prattles on Harold slowly lifts the gun to his temple and pulls the trigger.  Neither the percussive bang nor the sight of her son upended on the floor seems to faze her ...  "Oh, Harold, puh-leez!", she says, exasperatedly.  It was a protest of course and the hilarious  dates that follow make clear what Harold  thinks of Mother's plan.  (Watch this scene here).


  First up is Candy, a college student.  She can see Harold out in the garden while trying hard to make a good impression with Mother.  But when he suddenly explodes in a fireball her shrieking exit is enough to shake up the genteel neighborhood.  One down, two to go.


Then ...  Next, Edith.  She is introduced to Harold in front of the garage at the back of the home. He is finishing up a conversion of a brand new Jaguar XKE roadster, a gift from Mother to replace "...that monstrous thing of yours" - his hearse, into another hearse.

... and Now,  the original garage was demolished a few years ago in a remodel that replaced the swimming pool and added a new garage with a second floor addition, seen here in an aerial view.  The arrow below points to the spot where the above shot was filmed.

    On a trivia note, in 1997 BMW announced its squat Z3 M Coupe; the automaker's design chief reportedly had been inspired by Harold's Jaguar hearse.  Here it is ... you decide.

Then ...  Mother might have be a little taken aback at the sight of Harold's Jaguar makeover but without skipping a beat she ushers Edith into the house to wait for him to clean up and join them.

... and Now,  the home's unchanged entrance is visible from the street.

    As Edith perkily describes her job -  typing up schedules for chicken feed deliveries -  she is given pause when Harold suddenly produces a cleaver and lops off his left hand.  Two down, one to go.


    The young man is nothing if not creative at feigning death.  His next date, Sunshine, "...your third and final chance, please try to be serious, Harold", is an actress.  For her he enacts an elaborate hara-kiri ritual in the music room, falling prostrate after plunging the traditional knife into his gut.

    But did we say she's an actress?  Sunshine sees through the ruse, segues into Juliet's last lines from Romeo and Juliet and plunges the knife into her heart in a fervent performance worthy of enthusiastic applause.


The Laughing Policeman - Art Institute

    As Jake and Larsen know only too well murder investigations involve painstaking work and the endless pursuit of tips.  Next up for them is the girlfriend of one of the bus massacre victims, Gus Niles, who they now know had been trying to buy an automatic weapon of the type used in the massacre.  But first they have to find her.  They begin at her workplace, the San Francisco Art Institute, at 800 Chestnut on Russian Hill (map), pictured here in a recent photo. 


    Larsen looks down through a window to an artist's model reclining languidly in the studio down below.


Then ...  As he mutters disgustedly about the, er, corpulent sight a clue to where this was comes from the window reflection; he must be looking in from outside the building and there's a concrete roof above, unusually angled up rather than down.

... and Now,  this outside space is on the upstairs deck of the Institute but has since been enclosed to create a Digital Media Lab.  That exterior window, above, now hides behind the wall, below, and the concrete roof and beams have been refinished and painted.

... and Now,  in this view of the Digital Media Lab, added since the movie was filmed, the reverse angle of the original roof overhang now makes sense - an architectural feature.


Then ...  Larsen turns and looks across to Jake quizzing a couple of students about the whereabouts of Niles' girlfriend... that's  Alcatraz and Angel Island in the distance.  The window wall on the left is the same one through which Larsen looked down to the studio. 

... and Now,  the matching view is blocked by the media lab occupying  this spot...

... and Now  ... so we have to step outside to see the view as it looks today.  The wall of the building, the Institute's cafeteria, incorporates projecting table tops, one of which the students were sitting on in the scene above.


Then ...  They find she hadn't shown up for work that day so they head out the main entrance to try where she lives.

... and Now  ... the same solid wooden doors are still in use.


Then ...  She lives on Telegraph Hill - up there on the horizon -  so they turn east down Chestnut Street.

... and Now,  cypresses hug the front of the Institute and the sidewalk trees, pollarded every winter, have filled out after an extra  40 years of growth.


I Remember Mama - Katrin's Graduation Gift

Graduation Day is rapidly approaching for Katrin, doubly important because she is to play Portia in the school production of 'The Merchant Of Venice'.  She diligently memorizes her lines in her bedroom attic where her window view, described in more detail in an earlier post, looks across the Embarcadero to the East Bay.


Then ...  Walking down the street she practices her lines with Christine but she for her part chastises her elder sister for being consumed with the play and dreaming of graduation gifts at a time when the family is struggling to make ends meet.

... and Now,  this street scene was filmed on the east side of the 1200 block of Kearny Street between Green and Vallejo on Telegraph Hill, also seen earlier when Katrin was out shopping with Mama.

... on location ...  here's a snapshot taken as they passed 1236 Kearny while they were filming this scene.   What a great view of the action that resident had!


    They run into two of Katrin's friends in front of a store window where she points out the gift she dearly wants... a dresser set.  "it's got everything, even a hair receiver, and it's genuine celluloid!".  This though was filmed at the Warner Brothers back lot.


Then ...  (Cutting back to a location shot) Christine tells her that she's not going to get it ... she had heard Mama saying she would give Katrin her silver solje (brooch), a family heirloom.  Katrin is mortified... "What would I want with an old thing like that for?"

... and Now,  this was shot on the 500 block of Liberty Street in Eureka Valley, described in an earlier post.  The house at far right both Then and Now (with the green door) is 554 Liberty.


Then ...  Christine accuses her of being selfish and adds... "But you'll devil Mama into giving you the dresser set somehow".  As they approach the junction with Noe Street  (map) they pass an empty lot on the corner.

... and Now,  the modern house that sits on that corner lot today is totally out of character with the neighborhood (how was that allowed to happen?).  Next to it, beautifully maintained, are 513, 517 and 521 Liberty Street.  Note how the entrance stairs on some of these surviving original homes have been reworked to optimize space and improve safety (here's another example).


    Christine was right, Katrin got the dresser set.  But when she tells her (to brother Nels' disapproval) that Mama had to sell her precious solje to pay for it Katrin is shocked and distraught, causing her to perform poorly in the play.


Harold And Maude - At The Cemetery - 2

    At yet another funeral, held at the same cemetery as the earlier one, Maude peeks out from behind a fellow mourner (some think this might have been Cat Stevens, who wrote the movie's soundtrack).  She catches Harold's attention across the gathering with a loud "Pssst!".


Then ... Startled, all turn and look at Harold, including the same priest whose car Maude earlier had, shall we say, "borrowed".

... and Now,  from the same spot that's the cemetery's mausoleum in the background.

    The location is marked by the arrow in section 'J' of the Holy Cross Cemetery, 1500 Mission Road, Colma.


Then ...  With the homilies over and the Lord's Prayer said, Maude, contrarian as ever, jauntily leads the way from the ceremony beneath a bright yellow brolly.

... and Now,  the day CitySleuth visited a fallen branch had joined the linear array of headstones.


Then ...  As Harold walks towards his private hearse, Maude rounds the corner in it having unknowingly, of all cars, "borrowed" his.

... and Now,  from here we get a closer look at the mausoleum.  Things have hardly changed.


Then ...  Harold accepts her offer to give him a ride home.  By the time they reach the Hillsdale Boulevard exit from the cemetery (map) he tells her it's his car she's driving.  They change places and he gives her a ride home instead.

... and Now,  the most interesting change here is the hillside, so carefully cultivated above but since allowed to go to seed.  The nurseries across the road partially make amends.


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