Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lineup - Sutro's and Cliff House

  This location is especially interesting because it doesn't exist any more.  Long gone.  It's Sutro's Baths and Museum, built in 1896 by Adolph Sutro, which was located next to the Cliff House on Point Lobos Avenue at the north end of Ocean Beach (map).  Sutro's was in its heyday hugely popular as a go-to family entertainment place and featured seven different pools and a large concert hall.  By the time the movie was filmed in 1958 the pools had been closed to the public, replaced by an ice rink. 

Then ...  Dancer forces Dorothy and daughter Cindy to go with them to Sutro's in case the drug ring doesn't buy his explanation of why he failed to retrieve the drugs from Cindy's doll.

... and Now,   viewed from the same spot, Sutro's sadly is but a distant memory.


... in 1952,  here’s a vintage photo of Sutro's taken from Sutro Heights across the road.  Note the towers on the left flanking the entrance, removed by the time the movie was filmed six years later.

... and Now, only foundations survive after a suspicious fire destroyed the entire structure in 1966.  A 70 year old icon gone forever.


Then ...  A policeman cruising by on his motorcycle spots their parked car - he recognizes the plate number and pulls over to call in for reinforcements.  This shot looking south down the length of Ocean Beach gives us a good view of the Cliff House restaurant, situated right next to Sutro's (map).  The Cliff House has occupied this site in one form or another since 1863 having been rebuilt twice after devastating fires in 1894 and 1907. 

... and Now,  the always popular Cliff House with its lovely views of Seal Rocks and Ocean Beach is still in business.  Look at how much the beach has changed.

    This 1958 photo, taken the same year the movie was released, adds color to the movie view.  The beach ‘pier’, the intake for the Lurline Baths, was removed a few years after, in 1965.


  When the bulletin comes through Lt. Guthrie and Inspector Quine are driving north along Mason between Bay and North Point Streets.  They do a quick U-turn (below) and head post-haste for Sutro's.

Then ...  The Fairmont and Mark Hopkins hotels can be seen at the top of Mason on Nob Hill.  

... and Now,  the Fairmont Tower extension, built after the movie was filmed, is on the horizon on the left.  The highrise in the center, also post-movie, is the Royal Towers Apartments at 1750 Taylor on Russian Hill.


  Inside Sutro's, Dancer, instead of dropping the drugs in the hiding place and leaving as instructed, hangs around until the drug ring's head honcho 'The Man' (Vaughn Taylor) shows up, in a wheelchair.  Dancer's attempt to explain the failed third pickup falls on deaf ears.  Director Siegel's cinematography from these scenes fortuitously left us with rare video footage of the interior of Sutro's.

  When 'The Man' tells him his days are numbered Dancer flies into a rage and pushes him to his death through the railing to the skating rink below.  He then rushes with the drugs up the stairs to the street exit where he and his cohorts flee from the police with the terrified mother and daughter cowering as hostages in the back of their car.

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