The Conversation - "Room 773, Jack Tar Hotel"
On the taped recording Caul hears the lovers arranging to meet in Room 773 at the Jack Tar, a hotel between Geary and Post on Van Ness Avenue (map). Knowing that the Director has heard the tape and fearing for their safety, he decides to go there.
Then ... He asks for room 773 at the desk, confirms that it's occupied, and books the adjacent room. On his balcony he peers towards 773 but the frosted glass divider juts out beyond the railing, thwarting his attempt.
... recently ... here's a matching image by American Zoetrope that fortuitously was taken in 2011 two years before the hotel was demolished. Other than the bland wall paint on the left that "removes the colors from our sight" (Moody Blues, anyone?) the balconies remain exactly the same despite the passage of 40 years.
... and Now, by the end of 2013 the heavy equipment had moved in and demolition begun. This view from Franklin Street of the rear of the front part of the hotel reveals Room 773 (arrowed). As of this writing the entire site is a large hole in the ground in preparation for a state-of-the-art California Pacific Medical Center hospital.
The Jack Tar's Grand Opening in 1960 was heralded by a public relations blitz trumpeting "... the world's most modern hotel ..." and the "... dazzling innovations ...". (Many San Franciscans however were less than impressed with its architecture, considering it garish). It was the City's first hotel to have air conditioning and boasted over 400 rooms each easily accessible from a guest's parked car. This photo taken from across Van Ness Avenue the year the hotel opened also gives us a rare look, on the left, at the Cathedral of Saint Mary Of The Assumption on Van Ness and O'Farrell that, after being destroyed 2 years later by arson, was replaced by today's modern cathedral nearby on Gough. Tommy's Joynt on the other hand, seen on the corner of Geary, opened at that spot in 1947 and is still going strong.
By 2011 when this photo was taken the hotel, renamed since 1982 as the Cathedral Hill Hotel (after its neighborhood), was closed, awaiting its fate.
The billion dollar CPMC Cathedral Hill hospital, rendered below, is scheduled to open in 2015, though 2016 seems more likely.
Here's a closer look at the Cathedral of Saint Mary Of The Assumption, in 1962 right after it was gutted by an arson fire that resulted in its subsequent demolition.
But we digress ... back to the movie ...
Then ... Caul has drilled a hole through the bathrooms' dividing wall and is listening in to the conversation in room 773. He hears the voices of the lovers and the Director and becomes increasingly alarmed as denials and shouts flood his earphones.
... recently ... another American Zoetrope image captured the same spot in 2011.
Hearing screams he rushes out to the balcony where through the frosted glass partition he witnesses the wife being attacked by her bloodstained husband. Or does he? Is it real or is it all a figment of his tortured mind?