Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

D.O.A. - Photo Studio and Gasworks

  Citysleuth finds the ensuing storyline to be highly confusing and will try to simplify as best he can.  Here goes ... Bigelow's secretary has found a link between him and Eugene Philips.  In his capacity as a notary, Bigelow had recently notarized a Bill Of Sale covering the sale of a rare substance, iridium, to Philips.  Bigelow now concentrates on finding out who had sold him the iridium.  His search leads him to a model, Marla Rakubian (Laurette Luez), who had been having an affair with Philips.  In her apartment he finds a photo of a man he thinks may be the seller but when he asks her about it she pulls a gun on him (below).  But he overpowers her and leaves with the photo.


  He drives to the studio where the photo was printed and discovers that the man's name is Ray Rakubian.  This is an odd location for a photo studio - where could this scene have been filmed?...

... from 1952 ...  it took CitySleuth a while to figure out that this was alongside the gas holder at the Southern California Gas Co's Macy Street plant at the corner of Macy and Lyon, near Union Station in Los Angeles.  This aerial photo has enough detail for us to make out (arrowed) the actual building used for the photo studio.

    CitySleuth thanks John Bengtson for providing him with this 1950 Sanborn Map detail showing the gas holder at bottom right and the studio structure next to it, described as the plant's Turbo Blower and Switch Room.  A fake facade was added for the movie shoot.  (John hosts an excellent silent movie location website - check it out here).


...  Bigelow comes under fire from the building next to the photo studio.  The arrow points out a sign in the background which provided the original clue CitySleuth needed to pinpoint this location.  It reads 'Puritan Hams Bacon Lard' and at upper right another sign on a tower reads 'Margarine'.

... from 1939 ...  Puritan was a brand name of the Cudahy Packing Co, a manufacturer of canned meats and dairy products.  They had a factory complex at 803 Macy Street (now called East Cesar Chavez Avenue), next to the Macy Street bridge (map).  This photo of the Cudahy buildings was taken from Macy Street a decade before the movie was filmed; in it the arrow points to the same sign as the one above and at left margarine was already being advertised on the tower.

... and Now,  today the Cudahy site has been completely leveled and repopulated with industrial buildings - from the same spot it looks nothing like its former self.


... from the 1940s ...  This vintage photo was taken from the Macy Street bridge some years later.  It shows the Cudahy Packing Co. buildings  including the elevated CUDAHY sign visible through the power pylon to the left, also seen on the right in the 1939 photo above.  The Los Angeles River viaduct and the Santa Fe railroad tracks are in the foreground but the gasworks in the background has most relevance here; this was where this movie scene was filmed.


  As Bigelow runs back after the nerve-racking shootout his car and the photo studio on the left are dwarfed by the massive gas holder.

... from 1956 ...  Here's the same location in an aerial with a wider view.  Union Station is left of center, the art deco tower of City Hall is in the foreground and the Los Angeles County Medical Center is way up at the top.  There were several other gas holders in the vicinity.

... and Now,  In this recent Google Earth view the arrow points to where the Macy Street plant used to be.  The other gas holders also became things of the past, phased out by the introduction of high-pressure gas line technology, to the great relief of local gas safety engineers given the close  proximity of the tanks to downtown Los Angeles.


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