Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Portrait In Black - Drama at Devil's Slide

  What to do with Mason's body?  Rivera decides to drive south to the rugged Pacific Coast Highway and dump Mason and his car there, feigning an accident.  The only problem?  He needs a ride back so asks Sheila to follow him in her car.  So far so good except ... she can't drive!

Then ... He sits her in her driver's seat then stretches our credulity by giving her a 12 second driving lesson ....

" Now look, Sheila, here's all you have to do.  Now, you step on the brake here.  You release the emergency.  You push this button ... 'D'.  This pedal makes the the car go, this one makes it stop.  All you have to do is steer it.  Sheila, the car practically drives itself ! "

... and Now,  the ad hoc instruction takes place in front of Sheila's home , 2898 Broadway at Baker Street.


Then ... With Mason's corpse slumped next to him, Rivera leads the way followed by the tentative herky-jerky student driver.  The director oddly first takes us west through Russian Hill, in real life a ridiculously roundabout way to the Pacific Coast Highway destination.  Below, Sheila slams on the brakes to avoid colliding with a crossing cable car.

... and Now,  this is Hyde Street at the top of the crooked street block of Lombard.  In the recent photo below, the Hyde - Powell cable car passes by without incident.


Then ...  They head south from San Francisco to a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) known as Devil's Slide, so-named because of rock slides that have regularly closed down the highway during winter storms (in 1995 it was closed for 158 days).

... and Now,  these days there's a nominal protective road barrier in place.  Risk of cars going over the edge will soon be eliminated by the opening of the 4200 feet double-bore tunnel currently under construction beneath San Pedro Mountain between Pacifica and Montara.


    The location above is marked in red on the map below, south of Pedro Point.


    Rivera pulls over to the edge of a steep precipice and Sheila somehow safely skids to a halt alongside him (at the blue marker on the map above).  The composited capture below shows just how close to the road this is (we have to assume they removed some sort of barrier to film the scene).


Then ...  Rivera reverses his car behind Mason's and slowly pushes it over the edge.  Below, the tail fin and bumper are seen disappearing from view.

... and Now,  a recent photo at the same precipice, in the lower foreground.


Then ...  The trajectory of Mason's falling car is traced out in this composited image.  The cliff edge is high in the upper right corner with Rivera's car headlights just visible - but what's that in front of the car? ... CitySleuth surmises that it was a spacer separating the cars so the pusher didn't get hooked as the pushed reared up and plunged down.

... and Now,  the low wall on the right is all that separates passing drivers from the same fate.


  This recent aerial view shows how rugged those cliffs are - the arrow points to where the car went over.  As an aside, the moviemaker's permit required them to retrieve the car afterwards, which they did.  The old Highway 1 Devil's Slide section snakes around the bend at upper left but the 4200 foot twin bore tunnels next to the arrow have since 2013 replaced it, now safe from the ravages of future winter storms.

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