Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: North Beach

Play It Again, Sam - To The Airport!

Then … Allan climbs Kearny Street on his way back to his North Beach apartment (described in more detail earlier). He finds Dick waiting for him, telling him that he has become convinced that Linda is having an affair. Allan quakes in his boots, not having the nerve to fess up. But he becomes tormented on hearing Dick’s passionate declaration of his feelings for his wife.

… and Now, viewed from Fresno Street (map), this is the ultra-steep block of Kearny above Broadway.

 

When he calls her she has already confessed to Dick, without naming Allan. Bitterly disappointed, he leaves for the airport on a business trip.

 

Then … Allan has to talk to her - he takes a cab to her place, finds out that she’s left for the airport chasing Dick, then continues on, chasing Linda.

… and Now, this is viewed from outside 2614 Buchanan Street in Pacific Heights (Linda’s house, described earlier). The cross street ahead is Pacific Avenue .

 

Then … By now he has decided that he has to tell her to stay with Dick but during the cab ride he pictures her, in this great wide angle shot at San Francisco Airport’s Central Terminal, reacting angrily to his decision.

… and Now, Central Terminal is still there but is now named Terminal 2. In 2008 it underwent a state-of-the-art upgrade via a $383 million renovation.

This vintage image shows Central Terminal as it looked when the movie was filmed. The windows above the upper departure level are the same as those seen in the Then image above.

… vintage trivia … Citysleuth often digs up indirectly related material when researching a location. Case in point; he came across this photograph of passengers lining up at the same PSA counter seen at far left in the Then movie image above. The bell bottoms would date it to the 1970s. PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) was a popular West Coast airline perhaps best known for its flight attendants’ mini-skirted outfits in the 1960s and hot pants in the 1970s, not to mention kinky boots.

Monty Python said it best … “Nudge, nudge, know what I mean, say no more, say no more”. It didn’t take long before outraged women’s groups and a shift in passenger profile away from predominantly businessmen persuaded management to, ‘hem, tone it down.

 

Then … Linda’s cab arrives at Central Terminal’s departures and she dashes in hoping to reach Dick before he leaves. Note two more airline signs: Air West and National, both destined, like PSA, to be swallowed up by bigger fish.

… and Now, same terminal, different name, different look. Here’s a Google image of the Terminal 2 departures level in its current reincarnation.

 

She finds the gate and runs onto the tarmac (she couldn’t do that now) where Dick is about to board his plane. Allan follows her, just steps behind.

 

Play It Again, Sam - Fearful

Over coffee Allan cannot stop thinking about his affair. He rationalizes that Dick is sophisticated enough to accept that his wife might fall in love with his best friend…

Other than the smiley face poster, (does it read ‘Chuckburger’?) there aren’t enough clues here to figure out where this cafe was.

 

Then … But then, alarmed, he worries that Dick might be driven to suicide once he finds out, imagining him marching to his demise into the swirling surf at Ocean Beach at the westernmost edge of the city (map)

… and Now, the tide is out in this recent view looking south from near the Cliff House. (That’s one of Golden Gate Park’s windmills on the left).

 

Then … But wait, it could be worse … perhaps it will be Allan’s life at risk - the sight of an Italian movie poster prompts him to imagine an enraged Dick on a vendetta.

… a vintage photo, he was passing the Palace Theater, opposite Washington Square park at the junction of Columbus and Powell in North Beach (map). This is an image of how it looked when the movie was filmed at which time it was also showing Chinese movies and was known as the Pagoda Palace.

After being closed for years the theater was demolished in 2013 when it was deemed the ideal spot to extract the two boring machines that had dug the twin Central Subway tunnels extending the T-Third Street line from near the Giant’s ballpark 1.7 miles north into Chinatown. (Read more about that here). The photo below captures a piece of one of them being hoisted from the retrieval shaft in 2014 at the old theater site. (Watch a time-lapse video of both machines being removed here).

… and Now, a new retail/condominium structure has been built on the site retaining the blade sign as a reminder of its historic past.

 

Then … Allan pictures himself as a bakery worker being attacked by fellow worker Dick, first amusingly with bread dough then, more seriously, with a knife. Behind him there’s a turn-of-the -century Italian baking oven, a clue as to the location.

CitySleuth is often asked how he finds a location. His search for this one is but one example, involving many dead ends but at each one finding a further lead to pursue.

In the 1970s the North Beach neighborhood was home to a host of bakeries, a good place to start looking. CitySleuth visited them all: the Liguria Bakery at 1700 Stockton is still there but their oven doesn’t match this one; Danilo’s at 516 Green, now Baonecci’s, also still has its oven but again, different; the Italian-Swiss Bakery, most recently Sylvia’s Pastry, at 1501 Grant was gutted just weeks ago and its oven removed but an unearthed vintage photo showed it also to be different. CitySleuth spoke to the owner of the Victoria Pastry Co. that back then was at Stockton and Vallejo but he ruled it out as the place. The store at 1351 Grant that once housed Figoni Hardware still has ovens downstairs, unused for decades, but they don’t match either. Finally, a hot lead: at the venerable Gino and Carlo bar the owner pointed CitySleuth across the street to where Cuneo Bakery used to be.

… and Now, the Cuneo Bakery site was at 523 Green Street; it’s now a Copy Center and sadly its old ovens are no longer there. CitySleuth was referred to Mark Sodini, owner of Sodini’s Restaurant across the street who used to work at the bakery. He confirmed that the movie scene was filmed at Cuneo; what’s more, he was upstairs in the building while the scene was being shot downstairs. Cuneo Bakery relocated years ago to South San Francisco where it continues as a wholesale business. The current co-owner Wendy Mallegni is the daughter of the family who owned and operated the North Beach site and she too confirmed that the scene was filmed here at 523 Green.

With the movie oven gone a matching photo isn’t possible but the extant example across the street in the basement of Baonecci’s at 516 Green is very similar, possiby the same manufacturer, and is offered here as consolation. Compare it to the ‘Then’ image above.

17 - fearful 7 (danilos, now baoneccis.jpg
 

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Cab ride

Then … The pod mob continues to chase Matthew and Elizabeth, here passing Beppino’s, a Ristorante and Bar inside the PSA San Francisco Hotel at 1231 Market near 8th Street (map).

… and Now, the hotel is now the Hotel Whitcomb. Beppino’s is long gone; its entrance too, having been closed off with a convincing match to the exterior facade.

 

Then … We next see them walking on Broadway at Columbus in the North Beach red light district having apparently shaken off their pursuers. The brick arches behind them belong to the Condor Club (map), notorious since the 1960s for being the first club in the nation to feature topless (and later, bottomless) entertainment by their star stripper Carol Doda.

… and Now, the brightly back-lit posters above belonged to the adjacent topless club, Big Al’s. It segued over the years into an adult bookstore then a grocery store and finally a smoke shop before closing down. It has been shuttered for years.

CitySleuth would be remiss not to let us sneak a peek at why Ms. Doda was smirkily dubbed “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco”. Forty four injections of silicone reportedly boosted her reputation.

 

Then … A short way along the block they pass the Roaring 20s club then get into a cab parked alongside the Hungry I club (for some reason its sign had been sanitized by masking the word ‘NUDE’).

… and Now, the Hungry I was, and still is, on the corner of Romolo Place, a steep alley that heralds the slopes of Telegraph Hill. (But don’t confuse it with the historic 1950s beat/folk era Hungry I club which used to be located in the basement of the International Hotel two blocks away at 599 Jackson Street). After all these years the Roaring 20s too is still there; it too had a predecessor - Varni’s Roaring 20s at 807 Montgomery Street.

 

As the cab pulls away take a look at who’s driving, in a cameo role. It’s Don Siegel who was the director of the original 1956 version of this movie. Siegel directed many other movies including the 1971 San Francisco classic Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood.

 

Then … On their way through a tunnel the cabbie is unusually curious about where they are going. He wants to know why and the simultaneous appearance of a pair of motorcycle cops makes them fear that they are in the hands of pod people.

… and Now, this is the Robert C. Levy, aka Broadway, Tunnel (map), an underground link between Larkin and Powell Streets in the Russian Hill neighborhood. Built in 1952, it has aged well over the years. CitySleuth has driven through this tunnel dozens of times but only occasionally has he seen a pedestrian on the noisy six-block-long walkway on the right.

 

Then … When the cab stops at a police roadblock they slip out and run off. The overpass in the background has an ‘early freeway’ look which may have been upgraded or demolished today - CitySleuth had a hard time finding it.

… and Now, but reader Notcom (see comments below) identified it as the Essex Street on-ramp leading to eastbound I-80 on Harrison Street (map). The overpass at right crossing Harrison is the Fremont/Folsom exit from westbound I-80. Upgrades have since changed this exit structure significantly. The commercial building at left wasn’t built until 1982, after the movie scene was filmed.

 
 

Play It Again, Sam - Hong Fat Noodle Company

    Despite Allan's bizzare behaviour back at his apartment, Sharon comes along as his date, accompanied here by Linda as they arrive at the Hong Fat Noodle Company restaurant.  (But you can just make out the edges of a temporarily applied plastic sheet on the window, suggesting that a fictitious name was affixed just for this scene).

 

Then ...  CitySleuth could not find any record of a restaurant of this name in San Francisco.  But as they enter, there are a few clues that helped him find this location.  The girls climb two steps to the door, at bottom right there's a handrail and across the street is what could be a brightly lit nightclub.

... and Now,  here's the same view from the restaurant today - note the similar, if not the same, handrail.

Then ...  Inside, Allan continues making a fool of himself by demonstrating the right way to eat rice - by stuffing his face as fast as possible.  Sharon has seen enough ... she ups and leaves.  This shot yields another clue to the restaurant location - the sign across the road in the top right corner that reads 'Pepper'.

... and Now,  there's now a takeout counter where their table was.  So, enough already, where is this location?  Read on ...

 

    A search for 'Pepper' in the 1972 San Francisco street directory brought up the Peppermint Tree night club at 660 Broadway in North Beach at the edge of Chinatown.  And across the street from it?  The Yank Sing restaurant at 671 Broadway.  This was where the restaurant scene was filmed (map).

    As confirmation, a subsequent web search for Yank Sing yielded a 2005 online article about its history that mentioned that the restaurant was featured in  Play It Again, Sam.

 

 The location now ...  In 1974 Yank Sing moved to another location in town where it is still in business.  But its old location - the movie location - at 671 Broadway, now the VIP Coffee and Cakes Shop, looks just as it did, including those two steps and the handrail.

 

   As it turns out, there was a restaurant called Hong Fat Noodle Company at 63 Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown (map), in business when Play It Again Sam was filmed but long since closed.  It was a very popular dining spot with the local Chinese community and those fortunate others who knew about it (CitySleuth suspects Woody Allen was one of them and that he borrowed its name for the movie).  Here's a recent photo of that location - the restaurant was upstairs via those stairs.

 

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