Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lady From Shanghai - Acapulco - Hotel Casablanca

  The cast stayed at the newly opened luxury Hotel Casablanca during the making of The Lady From Shanghai and director Orson Welles made a point of incorporating it into his movie.  Its location atop Camino de la Pinzona (arrowed on the map) rewarded guests with spectacular all-around panoramic views.


Then ...  We get our first look at the hotel, perched high upon a hill, as soft background dance music conveys the viewer to another world.  This image, though, could be a painting.

... and Now,  the hotel, pictured below in a recent photo, has over the decades become a faded shadow of what it once was.  The symmetrical roofline has been compromised by rooftop additions but its views remain matchless. The hotel is currently being renovated and converted to condominiums.  Just look at how the hillside has become jammed with hotels and villas!


   Below is a snapshot of our leading lady relaxing on a small boat on Santa Lucia (aka Acapulco) Bay with the Hotel Casablanca behind her in the background.

   Here's Rita on the grounds of the hotel having her picture taken for a promotional movie still.  She sure knows how to pose.


... from a vintage aerial photo ...  The photo below, circa 1945, shows the almost completed hotel (the circular rooftop level is not yet finished).  Interestingly - first, you can clearly see the lawn where Rita was posing in the photo above.  Second, the construction-scarred hillside adds to CitySleuth's suspicion that a painting was used for the movie's 'Then' image above.


Then ... A puzzlingly brief scene follows on the Casablanca's rooftop with Elsa walking hurriedly away from her agitated husband for, as we soon find out, a meeting with O'Hara.  Behind them is a southeast view over the bay to the shoreline of the Caleta Peninsula, with their yacht Circe cruising below.

Then ...  the scene below was filmed from the same place earlier in the movie during O'Hara and Grisby's walk, capturing even more of the view.  In both shots the moored boats on the bay are in exactly the same positions.

... and Now,  taken recently from the hotel - there's a lot more development and a lot more boats, especially the crowded marina across the bay at center.


Then ... As dusk falls Elsa, almost angelic with her flowing dress brightly shining in the foreground, runs down the hill from the hotel towards the old town.  Just above her, alongside the Zocalo central plaza, is the Nuestra Senora de la Soledad church, built in 1930 (the Zocalo is marked on the map above).

... and Now,  the mountain's profile is partly obscured by clouds but the encroachment of the town of Acapulco up its slopes is clear to see.  The blue-domed church now has two added Byzantine towers.

...  a vintage aerial photo ...  This aerial view - by now the rooftop level has been completed - shows the church location in relation to the hotel.


  Elsa meets O'Hara in the old town (filmed at the 20th Century Fox ranch).  Unhappy, she talks of suicide, but, when O'Hara offers to take her away, sagely says "You just don't know how to take care of yourself, so ... how could you take care of me?".  Soon after, they up anchor and sail on to Sausalito, California.

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