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.
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.