Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Rincon Hill

The Midnight Story - Opening Credits

The movie opens with a murder scene in a dark alley, most likely filmed on a Universal Studios back lot. A catholic priest, Father Tomasino, is walking along a dark lane; he hears his name called then is collared from behind and summarily dispatched with a knife.

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Then … While the opening credits roll a responding police car is shown driving through different parts of the city. Here, the camera pans down from a church spire.

… and Now, this is All-Hallows Chapel at 1440 Newhall Street in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood looking just as the movie showed it over 60 years ago (map).


Then … the camera pans away from the spire until it points down the street.

and Now, this view looks north along Newhall Street from Palou Avenue. The large structures that dominate in the distance are the Port of San Francisco’s Pier 92 grain silos, erected in 1918 alongside Islais Creek but shut down after the 1989 earthquake.

As an interesting aside, the tall circulation tower attached to the silos was beautified in 2014 by the Port by way of a public arts project representing the neighborhood’s economy, ecology, and community. The eye-catching installation, prominently visible to all entering and leaving the city on the nearby elevated 280 freeway, continues to be a colorful gateway to the struggling Bayview neighborhood.


Then … the credits continue, now with a view of the Bay Bridge, making it clear the story is set in San Francisco.

and Now, looking east across Fremont along Harrison Street (map). The rapid modernization of this SOMA/Rincon Hill area has yet to swallow up the building at left on the Fremont corner.


Then … In this shot we see, on the right, the sign of the upscale Blue Fox Cafe, one of the city’s most famous restaurants spanning a 51 year period from 1942 to 1993. Many celebrities dined there including Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Joan Crawford kept her own case of vodka there (perhaps inspired by Alfred Hitchcock who kept a private stash of wine at Ernie’s Restaurant, or was it the other way around?).

and Now, this is Merchant Street between Montgomery and Kearny at Portsmouth Square (map), where a Hilton hotel has long since replaced the old Hall of Justice that was on the left side, above. There is no longer a view down to the Bay from here unlike in the movie image: it’s blocked by the Transamerica Pyramid at Kearny and if that wasn’t there, by the Embarcadero Center farther down. The Blue Fox was at 359 Merchant; Alfred’s Steak House is the current occupant.

Citysleuth found this image in a 1956 travelogue. It’s the same sign as the one seen in the Then image above, positioned at the same spot where the vertical Alfred’s sign is now, next to the protruding iron balcony.

The Laughing Policeman - Showdown

Then ...  Several folks at a bus stop on the Embarcadero await the oncoming bus carrying Jake and the suspect.  Piers 16 and 18 are over to the right and the Ferry Building is visible in the distance.  The abrupt termination of the Embarcadero Freeway left of center suggests there was a southern extension planned.

... and Now,  the same view from the same spot, now part of Rincon Park and close to the whimsical Cupid's Span, a head-turning sculpture installed in 2002.  The two piers and the double-decker freeway are no longer there.

    Citysleuth zeroed in on the camera location by overlaying a vintage (1955) and a recent aerial shot.  In the 1955 aerial the arrow shows where the bus stop location was, close to the junction with Folsom.  Click or tap the image or thumbnail to toggle to the aerial view today; all of those piers have since been removed.  Gone too is the entire block of buildings opposite Pier 18, clearing the way for the Embarcadero to be rerouted to make room for the new two acre Rincon Park, straddling where the bus stop used to be.  The Bay Bridge crosses diagonally in the lower right corner.


Then ...  As the bus slows down we see the Bay Bridge straight ahead and Folsom Street on the right.  In the center is the Hills Brothers Coffee plant whose tower and rooftop sign were a familiar Rincon Hill sight for decades.

... and Now,  the tower has survived; so too has the sign.  The building is now a designated City Landmark but it has since been converted to gentrified upscale offices (Google being one of the tenants) and condominiums with a view.


    As Camerero stands to aim his gun at the passengers Larsen, who had pulled up behind the bus, and Jake both let him have it.

    After so many false leads and blind alleys they finally get their hands on the elusive 'grease gun'.


Then ...  The movie ends with a lingering shot of the scene of the showdown.  Pier 18 can't be seen - it's just off to the left of this view, but the adjacent Piers 20, 22 and 23 (seen in the 1955 aerial near the top of this post) had already been removed, opening up an unobstructed view of the bay and the bridge.

.. and Now,  today's view looks through Cupid's Span and across Rincon Park.


Portrait In Black - Cabot Shipping Line

  The movie opens with a waterfront view of the Cabot Shipping Line pier.

Then ...  This is a view down the side of Pier 22 located between Folsom and Harrison streets, close to the spot where the Bay Bridge (seen behind the pier) crosses the Embarcadero.

... and Now,  this pier and other adjacent ones were removed as part of the waterfront renovation following the 1989 earthquake.  The same view today shows a gap were it used to be (map).  The Waterbar restaurant on the left sits right in front of where the pier entrance was and on the right is SFFD's Firehouse No. 35.  The fireboat Guardian, in red and white livery, is berthed next to it, at what is now called Pier 22 1/2 - the bridge tower behind it is the one seen in the movie view above.

... a vintage photo ...  we see Pier 22 in this 1941 photo.  The firehouse is next to it on the right, then called Firehouse No. 9, one of only two surviving structures from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, moved to this location in 1915.  (The other survivor is the Palace of Fine Arts).


Then ...  We next see the Cabot Line headquarters (or at least a model or a painting of it).

... a vintage photo ...  the building is no longer there but this 1920s photo shows it as it was, the flat-iron Crocker Building at One Post Street at Market Street in the Financial District map).

... and Now,  the Crocker Building sat on this spot from 1890 until it was replaced in 1969 (for shame!) by the sleek but featureless Aetna Building, below.


  The invalided magnate Matthew Cabot (Lloyd Nolan) runs his shipping empire from his bedside.  Cabot's wife Sheila (Lana Turner) looks on as he receives his daily injection from his doctor David Rivera (Anthony Quinn) but it soon becomes clear from Cabot's dismissive tone that the marriage is not going well.

The Lineup - Dancer's Demise

  The desperate Dancer uses Cindy as a human shield to hold off the police ...


Then ...  He pushes her away and tries to jump the gap across the barriers to the adjacent roadway but is felled by a police bullet and drops to the street far below.  Insp. Quine and Lt.Guthrie witness his demise as justice is harshly served.

... and Now,  the same view (below) is mostly blocked by new buildings such as the Infinity condominiums on the right.


Then ...  As the police wrap up, director Siegel's panning camera ends the movie with a fine sweeping vista (below) from the I-480 freeway.  At far right Folsom Street runs east towards the Bay with the Bay Bridge beyond.  The Ferry Building is at dead center and to its left the skyline is punctuated by the Southern Pacific Building, the conjoined PG&E and Matson Buildings, Angel Island, Coit Tower and at far left, the majestic Shell Building.

... and Now,  it's not possible to duplicate the exact view now that the freeway is no longer there but below is the best CitySleuth could do - taken from above First Street on the Bay Bridge's westbound Fremont Street exit ramp, just a half-block away from the movie's location (map).  The multiplicity of new buildings obstruct the distant views but you can still see the Shell Building, at 100 Bush Street across Market at the top of First Street (at far left, marked with the arrow), and the Bay Bridge at far right.

... and Now,  the recent photo below taken from the newly constructed 60 story One Rincon Hill residential tower vividly illustrates the proliferation of highrise buildings in the Financial District since the movie was made.  The I-480 freeway used to run along the dotted line at bottom alongside Folsom Street and the lower arrow points to where the final scene was filmed (CitySleuth's 'Now' photo above was taken from the elevated ramp just above this arrow).  Two of the landmarks pointed out in the movie's panorama can be seen in this view - the upper arrow points to the Shell Building and Coit Tower is in the upper right quadrant.

The Lineup -  Dancer's Demise

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