Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Mission Bay

Play It Again Sam - Julie's Choice

    CitySleuth must confess that he has struggled to nail the location of this next scene, where Allan takes his new friend Julie out for a date at a tavern.  Instead he presents educated guesses and looks to his readers to confirm or otherwise.

Then ...  In the tavern two bikers spot them in a booth and head over.  (Click or swipe the image for an enlarged view).

... and Now?  Could this have been filmed in the Hidive bar at Pier 28 on the Embarcadero (map)?  The angled front door with the window next to it on the right matches nicely.  The tavern, for many decades known as the Boondocks, was remodeled in 2004, which might explain why the bar is now on the opposite side.


    As the bikers mercilessly hit on Julie (Joy Bang), totally ignoring our hapless hero, the writing on the life ring buoy on the wall references Pier 28, the location of the Hidive.  (A different shot showing all of the buoy revealed its full text as 'Maries Pier 28').


Then ...  The big guys follow them outside.  Allan's amusingly puny efforts to 'fight' them gets him nowhere fast but they leave him mostly unscathed after Julie makes a choice - them.  To CitySleuth's eye this is a different building than that used for the interior scene.

and Now? ...     Note the bar's name above - 'Pier Head'.  The 1972 street directory lists a Pier Head tavern at 780 Embarcadero South opposite Piers 42 and 44.  The tavern, indicated below in a vintage aerial photo, and the piers were demolished decades ago during major reconstruction of the Embarcadero.  But was this scene filmed here?  CitySleuth appeals to anyone who might know, or who might have a vintage photo of the long-gone building, to comment below or contact him at

    Since then, these southern-most couple of blocks of the Embarcadero have been removed, making room for the Giants ballpark; as a result the spot where the Pier Head used to sit is now right next to the ballpark.


Thieves' Highway - Shorty's Bar

  Nick insists on taking a reluctant Rica out for a drink at Shorty's Bar, seen below.  CitySleuth searched 1949 City records but found no mention of a Shorty's so presumably it was a fictitious movie name.  The shop front below is certainly real enough -  the question is ... where was it?

  Two views from the interior of the bar help provide the answer.  The first shows an Embarcadero pier across the street, Pier 44.  (It's possible the interiors were filmed in the studio with projected window views to set the location).

  In the second view, seen through the entrance doorway to Shorty's, another pier, Pier 42, is seen across the Embarcadero looking in the opposite direction.  So, Shorty's was on the Embarcadero opposite and between Piers 42 and 44.  Both piers were terminals for American President Lines.

  How does CitySleuth know these were Piers 42 and 44?  They are not there any more, but compare the shots above with the vintage photo below of these two piers (which incidentally shows the Bay Bridge under construction in 1935).  They match.


Then ...  In this movie pan below, the view looks south down the Embarcadero as Nick and Rica cross the rail tracks heading for Shorty's.  (This panorama links with the one at the top of this post).  Pier 44 is on the left and the Embarcadero continues past Berry Street before ending at Pier 46.

... and Now,  Pier 42, 44 and 46 are no longer there; they were replaced by the South Beach Marina.  Instead of continuing straight on past King and Berry Streets as it used to, the Embarcadero now swings to the right into King Street alongside the San Francisco Giants ballpark.  The marina is on the left, as is South Beach Park which replaced the block where Shorty's Bar used to be, between King and Berry Streets.


  If all of this is confusing, the photo and map below may help ...

Then ...  this 1955 aerial photo shows piers 42 and 44 before they were removed.  Shorty's bar location was in the block opposite those two piers, between King Street and Berry Street.  Note also that back then Berry Sreet connected to the Embarcadero.

... and Now,  The same view today courtesy of Google maps showing that the Embarcadero now swings into King Street.  A section of Berry Street has been swallowed up by South Beach Park and the ballpark redevelopment project, completed in 2000.  The locations where Piers 42 and 44 used to be are shown in orange and the approximate location for Shorty's bar is indicated by the asterisk, within South Beach Park.

The Lineup - Passenger Terminal

  The three crooks drive to meet a contact awaiting arrival of a ship carrying passengers from overseas.  On the way they drive down Illinois Street.

Then ...   This is Illinois Street looking south from 18th (map).  The crane is in the Bethlehem Pacific Shipyard in the  Dogpatch neighborhood east of Potrero Hill.  Trivia note - Alfred Hitchcock used the same shipyard to represent one of the Vertigo locations.

... and Now,  the Dogpatch is rapidly gentrifying but this stretch of Illinois, other than the missing gasholder, is yet to change.  One set of rail tracks are gone but amazingly, though rusting and graffitied, that darn crane is still there a half century on!


Then ...  The drug ring contact, Staples (Robert Bailey), is waiting for them at the terminal.

... from 1962 ...  This vintage photograph shows where he was.  The arrow marks where Staples was waiting, at the far end of the Mission Rock Terminal, aka Pier 50, in Mission Bay near to China Basin and today's San Francisco Giants ballpark (map).

... and Now  a berthed vessel blocks part of the view but CitySleuth was able to duplicate most of it from the corner of the pier.



Then ...  As our mischief-makers drive onto the pier (below), the camera pan gives us a sweeping view of the terminal at the end of Pier 50.

... from 1955 ...  Another aerial photo of Pier 50.  This photo and the panorama from the movie, above, both look west down the length of the pier.  The arrow marks where the scene was filmed.

... and Now,   no longer a passenger terminal, the pier is still actively used for commerce.



Then ...  The camera continues panning, a continuation of the panorama above, until the car stops at the end of the pier.

... and Now  the island on the right is Yerba Buena Island.  Just beyond it, at far right, is the partially constructed single tower of the new suspension bridge scheduled to replace the old section of the Bay Bridge left vulnerable after the 1989 earthquake.



   Staples' job is to describe to Dancer the passengers who are carrying the contraband and where they are staying.  Dancer's job is to go get the stuff.


  The first is a Mr. Sanders ... "They live at 9020 Jackson".  (An interesting dyslexic misquote by Staples, even repeated by Dancer, because as we shall see, they live at 2090 Jackson).  The heroin has been hidden in the handles of a set of flatware he bought in Bangkok.


  Next, Dorothy Bradshaw and her daughter Cindy.  In their case the hiding place is Cindy's doll from Tokyo.  They are staying at the Mark Hopkins Hotel.


  And finally, Larry Warner, a crewmember who is staying at the Seaman's Club.  His package has been secreted inside a Tang Dynasty horse from Hong Kong.

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