Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Santa Monica

The House Across The Bay - At The Airport

Then ...  Tim's idea of a date with Brenda is to to take her to a local airport.  They drive onto the tarmac between two hangars.

     In the storyline this scene was set in the Bay Area but it was filmed at Clover Field in Southern California at what is now Santa Monica Airport.  Here's an early 1930s vintage photo of Clover Field; at that time there were just three hangars - the one on the left was the first to be built.  The arrow shows the path of Tim's car in the movie.

    By 1940 a much larger hangar had been added alongside the first three as well as the sprawling Douglas Aircraft plant next to it at 3000 Ocean Park Boulevard.  The path taken by Tim's car is again marked, on the left.  Douglas Aircraft Company became a major defense contractor during WW II employing 44,000 working 3 shifts seven days a week.


    Brenda is about to find out there's more to Tim than she knew - it turns out he's an ace aircraft designer for the Crane Aviation Company.  They pull up and look skyward where a test pilot barrels Tim's latest experimental plane through its paces. 


Then ...  The plane lands and taxis up to them - the pilot is effusive in his praise.  The Douglas plant is In the background at left and the structure in the center is the large hangar seen in the photo (two above) next to the plant.  Douglas Aircraft's original Clover Field hangar is on the right.

    Here's another aerial photo of the airfield, taken in 1940, with a good view of the buildings seen above.  The arrow points to another plane which happened to be parked near the same spot as Tim's was.

... and Now ...  the same site today, alongside Santa Monica airport.  The newer, longer runway was built on the golf course seen in the lower foreground above.  The Douglas plant and hangars have since been torn down, replaced by business parks; the arrow points approximately to where the location above was.  The Sunset Park neighborhood of single family homes surrounding the airport mostly sprung up during WW II to house the Douglas Aircraft workers.


    Tim persuades a very nervous Brenda to climb into the aircraft with him for what will be her first ever plane ride.  "Contact!", he calls and the propeller is cranked.  Looking at this slick flying machine makes it hard to believe that heavier-than-air machine flight began only 36 years earlier.

    The aircraft in the movie was a Phillips Aeroneer.  This 1940 photo taken while it was in the Bay Area for the filming was at the San Francisco Bay Airdrome, an east bay airfield that used to be next to where Alameda Naval Air Station is now.  The tail is marked with its identification number NX16075 but also sports 'Crane Aviation Co. XPT', its name in the movie (check it out above).  By this time the aircraft had been bought by MGM studios who featured it in many movies, usually using renowned stunt pilot Paul Mantz, who flew it in this movie. (Photo by William T. Larkins).


Woman On The Run - Laffing Sal Has The Last Laugh

  In the amusement park Eleanor and Leggett notice that police Inspector Ferris has followed them.

Then ...  Behind them are two attractions, The Whip and The Skooter.

...  from a vintage video ...  the amusement park is long gone now but the same attractions are seen here from a short vintage home movie taken at Ocean Park Pier in 1954.


  Leggett suggests they split up to help avoid the police.  He sends Eleanor off on the rollercoaster while he looks for her husband Frank but as she pulls away he carelessly mentions something only the killer would have known - the police had shared it with Eleanor so she suddenly realizes with horror that Leggett is the killer and that because Frank had witnessed the crime his life is now in great jeopardy.

  Below is a vintage photo of the rollercoaster at Ocean Park Pier and, in the movie, Eleanor, beside herself with fear and helpless to warn her husband, is tossed about on the hair-raising ride.


  Leggett finds Frank - he knows of his weak heart and so attacks him hoping to provoke a heart attack.  Eleanor hears a shot as she rushes over to them and fears the worst.


... but, phew!, it was Inspector Ferris who got there just in time and shot Leggett, bringing his investigation to a fitting end and leaving the way clear for Frank and Eleanor to be reunited.

Then ...  The movie fades out with a shot of the amusement park's Laffing Sal cackling away (below) at Legget's fate.

 ...  from a vintage video ...  The home movie mentioned above also showed the same Laffing Sal (below).  There's a change of clothing but the display, with mirrors, a beach ball and a dangling parrot, is the same.

... and Now, but a different one ...  San Francisco's Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park also had a Laffing Sal.  There were in fact many Laffing Sals at funhouses across the country at that time, all built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. of Germantown, Pennsylvania in the 1930s.  Playland has disappeared but its Laffing Sal display still cackles away today at  the Musee Mecanique at Pier 45 in San Francisco.

... and Now, yet another one ...  Over the years Playland had more than one Laffing Sal.  Here's another of them, on display at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.  They claim it's the original Playland display but CitySleuth is staying neutral on that.

Woman On The Run - Amusement Park

  After leaving the coroner's office Eleanor tells Leggett she had fainted from relief because the deceased in fact was not her husband Frank.  What's more she has now solved the riddle in his letter - he is waiting to meet her at an amusement park at the beach in Carmel.  Without delay they hop in a cab and head right over.

Then ...  They are dropped off at the amusement park outside a theater - the Dome - where the 1950 movie The Big Lift starring Montgomery Clift was playing.

... from a vintage photo ...  supposedly in Carmel per the script, the final scenes in the movie were actually all filmed at Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica, Southern California (not at San Francisco's Playland At The Beach as some have claimed).  Ocean Park Pier is no longer in existence so CitySleuth has resorted to vintage photos to authenticate the locations - here's a shot, from a different angle, of the Dome Theater.


  Ocean Park Pier extended far out into the sea a little south of Santa Monica Pier.  First opened in 1919 it was rebuilt in 1926 after a major fire.  In 1958, 8 years after Woman On The Run was filmed there, it was renamed Pacific Ocean Park, aka POP.  POP closed in 1967 and after sitting forlornly vacant through the early 70's was demolished in 1975 following another major fire.

Then ...  an aerial view of Pacific Ocean Park in its heyday (1963)

... and Now,  a satellite view of the site today.  The pier jutted out to sea from where the road at upper center curves around (the parking lot at left is the only common feature in the two images).  The beach has since reclaimed the site but warning signs still ban swimming here because of underwater obstructions from the detritus of the old pier.


  The denouement of the story is about to take place.  In filming it, director Norman Foster has left for us valuable rare footage of a long-gone early 20th century entertainment park beloved by generations of families, much as Don Siegel did with San Francisco's Sutro's Baths in the 1958 movie The Lineup.


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