Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Experiment In Terror - Night Club

  Kelly's tormentor gets word to her to meet her at a night club in town, threatening to target her younger sister Toby if she doesn't.  The police monitor the call and encourage her to go - they carefully prepare an operation to keep watch inside and outside the club, hoping to pounce.

  The night club is Varni's Roaring Twenties, a real club in 1962 at 807 Montgomery Street (map).  (Not to be confused with the present-day Roaring Twenties club on Broadway).  Below, Ripley preps his team using the actual floor plans of the club.


Then ...  The police watch from their parked car as Kelly drives her Ford onto a corner gas station lot right next to the brightly bordered club.  This view looks north up Montgomery from Jackson in the Jackson Square neighborhood.

...  and Now,  that gas station has since been demolished and built over. Trees hide the site of the club from this angle but a few doors up, at 847 Montgomery we can recognise the building that used to house Ernie's restaurant, extensively featured four years earlier in the movie Vertigo (see it here).


Then ...  She parks her car and walks past a circular stained-glass window and enters the club under the watchful eye of Agent Ripley.

...  and Now,  the club building currently houses the law offices of Arnold Laub and the circular stained-glass windows that used to be on either side of the entrance have been replaced with conventional ones.

... in 1964 ...  the vintage photo below shows how the club looked when the movie was filmed.  An image of a girl on a swing was above each round window. 

...  and Now,  compare it with the Laub building today.  At least those two stubbed-off protrusions below the left window survived the exterior remodel.


Then ...  Kelly has never seen the face of her tormentor so she anxiously waits to be contacted.  The circular window at upper left is the one on the left in the 1964 photo above.  There's a bar beyond the curtain to the right and revellers are seen looking over a railing at left - the club's first floor wrapped around an area open to the basement level below.

...  and Now,  taken from near the same spot on the first floor looking towards the entrance, the photo below shows an interior made over into office space.  In particular the open well has been floored over and a row of offices added along the wall on the right where the bar used to be. 


Then ...  The club was known for its 'Girl On A Swing'.  Lightly clad (by the mid 60s, unclad) ladies swung back and forth within the open well area.  They are filmed, below, looking up to the first floor railings from the downstairs level.

...  and Now,  with the first floor now covering the open well the resulting ceiling visible from the same spot downstairs blocks the matching view.  Coincidentally, this same club was featured six years later in the 1968 movie Petulia (see it here).


    A man (Al Avalon) follows her out of the club and she assumes he must be her stalker.  As we shall soon find out, he isn't ...

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