Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Petulia - The Danner Residence

  CitySleuth had fun finding this one.  There's a flashback in the movie, lasting no more than four seconds where we see Petulia's father-in-law Mr Danner (Joseph Cotten) and his wife in a spectactular living room at their home.  But where was this house?  There are no clues whatsoever in the movie other than that one brief shot.  But fear not - CitySleuth tracked it down, it's in Sausalito, and he was recently there.

Then ...  The striking feature of the room was this remarkable fanshell window.

... and Now,  the room has to this day remained largely unchanged, obvious exceptions being a window wall in the far right corner and the refinished fireplace hood on the right.

... and Now, from outside,  the house is well-hidden on a hillside but the distinctive window is just visible from the street below.


    CitySleuth is withholding the home's street address to respect owner privacy but a hillside view of the house is shown below.  From its vantage point high above Bridgeway between Atwood Avenue and San Carlos Avenue (map), it enjoys a sweeping view across the Bay towards San Francisco.  The house was originally built in the late 19th century by Melville Attwood, an immigrant mining engineer from England, then remodelled to its present form in 1961 by French architect Walter Nemhauser, a former owner.


    So how was the house found?  Serendipitously the movie DVD's included feature Petulia: The Uncommon Movie included footage of the film crew setting up in a house misleadingly described by the narrator as being "somewhere In the suburbs of San Francisco".  It's clearly not  Petulia's house but CitySleuth surmised it must be the Danner house.  Brief window views in the documentary  feature suggested Sausalito and studying hillside photos of east-facing houses pinpointed the site.

... on location ...  The crew carries massive lighting fixtures into the house along a suspended walkway.

... and Now,  here's the walkway, still there.  Its railing design invokes a marine rope theme.


... on location ...  The lights are then set up above the living room.  This is the window view that led CitySleuth to Sausalito.

... and Now,  the same view, looking south along the Sausalito shoreline (the fanshell window is downstairs at lower left).


... on location ...  Here's director Richard Lester and Joseph Cotten admiring a view of San Francisco across the bay.  They are on the same balcony seen above - note that the little shoreline point matches up, one of the clues in pinpointing the location.


... on location ...  Look at this fascinating shot below - what on earth is that circular hole they are filming through?  (That by the way in the corner is the camera setting up to film the brief movie shot seen at the top of this post).

... and Now,  it turns out to be the small oculus at the radial 'center' of the fanshell window! (seen in the shot at the top of this post).  The shot above was filmed from the east balcony looking through it across the living room.  Neat.  Here's the matching photo, below, showing some changes to the fireplace.


  It's puzzling why so much cost and effort was expended for a mere four seconds of footage.  Most likely it was filmed as a longer scene that ended up on the cutting room floor (Mrs Danner is speaking in the brief shot but there's no dialog heard).


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