Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Civic Center

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Capture and Escape

Then … Matthew and Elizabeth flee ahead of the pursuing pod people past a line of columned lamps. City Hall is in the background.

… and Now, this is the United Nations (U.N.) Plaza (map). The Plaza was installed along the former alignment of Fulton Street during the reconstruction of Market Street following the excavation for the Market Street Bart Subway. It opened in 1975 but the view now from the same spot shows foreground access stairs down to the Civic Center station that were installed 2 years after Invasion Of The Body Snatchers was filmed when the Muni Metro line was added to the Subway.


This recent image shows the U.N. Plaza as pristine as you will ever see it. The plaza was designed by the renowned San Francisco environmental architect Lawrence Halprin. (In a location trivia note, Halprin’s office appeared in a scene in the movie Bullit). The Bart/Muni Metro stairs are bounded by the railing on the left


Then … They come across their street busker friend and his boxer dog (they were seen earlier in the movie) sleeping next to a pod. Knowing what’s about to happen Matthew kicks the pod in disgust.

… and Now, the view is from Polk Street near the Grove Street junction (map) looking west past City Hall to Van Ness.

Later in the movie we see that a kick in the pod has consequences: the busker’s body-snatching gene transfer didn’t quite go as planned…


Then … They finally run across Grove Street and reach their destination - their workplace at the Department Of Public Health at 101 Grove, described in more detail earlier.

… and Now, the entrance still looks the same.


Then … from an upstairs window they watch an army of pod people lining up to distribute pods across the Bay Area; they fear that their days are numbered.

… and Now, in front of the Grove Street entrance of City Hall.


Without warning, the pod versions of their former friends show up and capture them, administering a sedative drug to send them asleep alongside two pods.


Then … But they manage to escape from the building and leave the pod people behind by jumping into a moving truck.

… and Now, on the left is the east side of the Department Of Public Health; ahead, Polk Street crosses Grove as it recedes to the north. The old First Aid sign partially visible in the movie shot at top left above is still affixed to the wall.


Play It Again, Sam - Art Gallery

Then ...  The search continues for a new girlfriend for Allan ... Linda thinks an art gallery might be a good place.  They visit the West Gallery at the San Francisco Museum of Art, (renamed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art three years later), which at that time was on the fourth floor of the War Memorial Veteran's Building in the Civic Center (map).

... and Now,  the museum has since moved to grander, dedicated quarters; this space is currently occupied by San Francisco Opera's Costume Studio.  The wall at left has been opened up and the tall opening to the next gallery at right on the back wall has been partially filled in.


    Linda spots a potential candidate (Diana Davila) standing at the end of the gallery in front of the Jackson Pollock painting ‘Guardians of the Secret’; she urges Allan to go over and ask her out.


Then ...  He asks what she thinks of the Pollock whereupon she delivers a dark esoteric monolog.  Unfazed, he delivers the funniest line in the movie ...

"What are you doing Saturday?"

"Committing suicide".

"What about Friday night?"

... and Now,  more wall changes are visible in today's matching view.


... a vintage photo ...  here's a 1958 photo of the West Gallery taken from the same spot as the shot above.  The museum was housed in this and other galleries on the 4th floor of the Veteran's Building from 1935 to 1994 after which it moved to its current home, the Mario Botta designed Museum of Modern Art, on 3rd Street in SoMa.


Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Matthew's Office

Then...  Elizabeth and Matthew are both employed by the city's health department.  On her way to work she passes a street busker (Joe Bellan, banjo recorded by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead) and his faithful boxer companion.

... and Now,  this is Polk Street near the Grove Street corner in the Civic Center (map).  The view looks west past City Hall at far right and towards the War Memorial Opera House across Van Ness.  Davies Symphony Hall, there since 1980, is across Grove opposite the Opera House.


Then...  She enters her workplace at 101 Grove Street (map).

... and Now,  except for the ADA wheelchair sign and a handrail replacement the entrance looks exactly the same.


Then ...  She joins Matthew and a colleague in the lab; he is absorbed in scrutinizing a baked potato for contamination.

... and Now,  the rooms that comprise the lab area, on the top (4th) floor,  have been rearranged and refitted significantly since the moviemakers were here.  This is the most likely one used for this scene.


Then ...  They leave the lab, then and now called the Microbiology Laboratory, and head past room 412 towards his office.

... and Now,    today's safety-conscious era dictates an abundance of warning signs.


Then ...  Window views enabled CitySleuth to home in on Matthew's office.

... and Now,  the same office today has been divided into cubicles.  This is room 410 on the top floor of the building - the view looks across Grove Street to the south side of City hall.

    The office window is indicated here, overlooking Grove Street.


Then ...  Several of the Grove Street offices have a similar view.  How did CitySleuth decide that this was room 410?  Another movie view looking from the office down to the street corner at Polk and Grove was the clincher...

... and Now,  from room 410 today note the position of the lamppost relative to a statue pedestal beyond it.  Only this room's view has that matching alignment.


Then ...  In this shot the dome of City Hall dominates...

... and Now,  just as it does today.


   This is strange ... from outside Matthew's office we see a man peering intently through the glass at them.


Then ...  And as Elizabeth walks back to the lab, two more people are staring at her.  What is going on?

... and Now,  in this view of the top floor corridor we expect the marbled walls to be unchanged but we also note from the patterns that the floor tiles are the same ones as 40 years ago, in excellent condition.


Sudden Fear - The Good Life

  A series of vignettes depict Myra and Lester settling down into the social whirl of 1950s San Francisco.

Then ...  First, celebrating the 30th season at the opera.

... and Now,  the drawing on the brochure cover above is San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, a grand Beaux-Arts building opened in time for the 1932/33 season.  (From 1923 - 1931, the newly-formed opera company had performed at the Civic Auditorium).  Below, the opera house today, at 301 Van Ness Avenue (map).


Then ...  We are shown a glimpse inside the theater ...

   ... but this isn't the War Memorial Opera House - archival footage filmed on stage 28 of the Universal Studios lot in Universal City, California was used instead.  Originally built for the 1925 movie Phantom of the Opera (see below), the theater set has been featured in many movies over the years.  Citysleuth thanks reader Paul Penna for pointing this out.

(Update - The stage was demolished in 2014).

... and Now,  the War Memorial Opera House interior is very different.


Then ...  Next up, a day at the races at Tanforan, the racetrack of choice for city high-rollers from 1899 until it burned down in 1964.  It was located on El Camino Real in San Bruno, near the San Francisco International Airport (map).

... in 1950 ...  The 1950 Bing Crosby movie Riding High was filmed at Tanforan racetrack and in this scene from it a huge sign, South San Francisco, The Industrial City, can be seen on the south side of San Bruno Mountain.

... and Now,  with the racetrack gone a shopping mall, The Shops At Tanforan, has been built on the site.  In this view across the mall from El Camino Real we see that the huge cement letters of the iconic sign, dating from the 1920s, are still there.

    The famous racehorse Seabiscuit used to practice at the Tanforan racetrack in the 1930s and shoppers today can see a memorial statue of it in front of the Barnes and Noble store at the mall.


Then ...  This double exposure shows the newlyweds swept up by the action down the home stretch.  Note the oil derricks in the distance to the left - but this footage wasn't filmed at Tanforan; the distant oil derricks suggest Southern California.

... and Now,  the oil derricks appear to be those at Signal Hill, Long Beach, in which case this would be the Los Alamitos race course (map).  Here's a recent photo of it below - the derricks were removed long ago when the oil fields dried up.


Then ...  and finally they go dancing at the Cirque Room, a popular dance spot in the Fairmont Hotel (map) ...

Then ...  where they party the night away.

... from the 1950s ...  Here's a postcard photo image taken in the Fairmont's Cirque Room at about that same time. 

... and Now,  the Cirque Room is still there but available only for private parties.  This recent photo captured its art deco bar and original circus-themed murals.


  Lester hears back from his shady lady friend Irene Neves.  She has been working on her lawyer boyfriend and found out -"It took five martinis" - that Myra is about to donate the bulk of her fortune to a charity, news that doesn't sit well with the scheming pair.

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