Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lady From Shanghai - Errol Flynn and the yacht Circe

  O'Hara joins Elsa and her husband Bannister as a crewmember on their voyage to San Francisco by way of Acapulco.  O'Hara, in voiceover, admits "Well, it's clear now I was chasin' a married woman, but that's not the way I want you to look at it".  The yacht is named Circe, after the Greek goddess who was described by Homer as 'the loveliest of all immortals' and who turned her enemies into animals using magic potions.  In other words a femme fatale.  Below, O'Hara steers the yacht while Elsa, in saucy nautical garb, looking extremely femme and certainly not (well, not yet) fatale, relaxes with her pet dog.


  While scouting locations in Acapulco Orson Welles had met Errol Flynn who happened to be there with his recently acquired luxury yacht Zaca.  Welles contracted to use the Zaca for the two month movie shoot.  Flynn captained the yacht himself - one can only imagine what life aboard must have been like with these two renowned high-living, hell-raising, larger-than-life characters.  Incidentally, Elsa's dog seen above was Flynn's pet dachshund.  During filming, on October 17 1946, Welles and Errol Flynn (with second wife Norah Eddington, below) celebrated Rita Hayworth's 28th birthday on board the Zaca.

  And here's a color photo of the debonair Mr. Flynn taken in the same cabin.


  Coincidentally, the Zaca, a 118 foot gaff-rigged schooner, was built at the Nunes Brothers boatyard which will be seen later in the movie when the storyline moves on to Sausalito.  In 1959 Errol Flynn, prematurely aged by a life of excess, died of a heart attack at age 50 in Vancouver while he was trying to sell his yacht to a Canadian businessman.  He must have taken with him many happy memories of his time aboard the Zaca, reportedly his pride and joy, seen below under full sail.


  After Flynn's death the yacht deteriorated badly over the years then underwent a stem-to-stern 'money-no-object'  resurrection by the Italian art patron Roberto Memmo making her one of the most spectacular yachts in the Mediterranean, with a Picasso hanging in her salon.  Check out excerpts from the video documentary 'In The Wake Of The Zaca' by Luther Greene telling the full story of the yacht's fascinating birth, life and rebirth here.


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