Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Pal Joey - One Way Ticket

  The movie opens to the wail of a siren from a police car passing beneath an overpass.

Then ...  Behind the police car a neon restaurant sign can just be made out - 'Spenger's Grotto'.

... and Now,  the overpass is where University Avenue crosses over the Amtrack rail tracks and the Highway 80/580 freeway in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco.  The restaurant and its sign are still there but the overpass has been beefed up, a wise move in shaky California.


  The red marker on this map shows Spenger's location.


  Here's a recent look at Spenger's.  Built in 1933 on the site of its first incarnation, an 1890 clam stand, it has become a city institution; a must-eat-at for locals, tourists and UC Berkeley students. (Read about its history here).


Then ...  The black-and-white pulls up in front of a train station and two cops haul Joey Evans (Frank Sinatra) out.  Joey protests his innocence as they remind him he just bedded the underage daughter of the Mayor and proceed to throw him on the waiting Southern Pacific train with a one-way ticket out of town.

... and Now,  the location in the movie is 'Gold City' (wherever that is), but we know by now that this was filmed in Berkeley.  The station building is still there (see the blue marker on the map above).  Comparing Then and Now, note that the train above was on an old spur track which has since been removed and concreted over (below), leaving two of the original tracks still in use.

  But the landmark 1913 Southern Pacific station, pictured recently below, has been a restaurant since 1975 - originally China Station, then Xanadu, and currently Brennan's which took over in 2008.  Berkeley's station today is now beneath the overpass at left, one of 73 California stations served by Amtrack.

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