Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Yerba Buena Island

Walk A Crooked Mile - Bus Ride

The search for the FBI agent’s killer is on. When O’Hara hears that Anton Radchek, a communist sympathizer seen hanging around Lakeview, has bought a bus ticket to San Francisco, he decides to tail him there hoping he might lead him to bigger fish.

Then … The bus approaches San Francisco, interestingly seen here on Yerba Buena Island looking down on the western span of the Bay Bridge (map). Was there a bus service back in the 1940s from Southern California to San Francisco that traveled via Oakland with a stop on Yerba Buena Island? Or was this simply directorial artifice to include a scenic city approach in the movie?

… and Now, viewed from that same stretch of road. The new Salesforce Tower at far right, over 1000 feet tall, now dominates the San Francisco skyline.


Then … They take the access road onto the bridge towards San Francisco. Just 12 years old when this was filmed, the bridge at that time had two-way auto traffic on the upper deck while autos and trains shared the lower deck.

… and Now, the bridge today is auto only: the upper deck is one-way west and the lower deck one-way east.

Here’s a vintage photo of the one of the trains on the lower deck. They were part of the Key System, a privately owned company. The rail service was discontinued in 1958.

In this 1946 photo of a State Belt Railroad diesel train, one of many used to shuttle goods along the Embarcadero, a lower deck train is seen passing by on the bridge.


Then … Back to the story - looking out from the bus we see part of Yerba Buena and Treasure Island on the right with Angel Island on the left.

… and Now, it’s just the same 70 years later.


Then … As they approach the city shoreline O’Hara has a view of piers aligned along the Embarcadero as well as Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill. The Ferry Building is just out of view beyond the left side of the image.

… and Now, these piers to the north of the Ferry Building, the odd-numbered ones, are mostly still there - unlike their even-numbered counterparts to the south, many of which have not survived.

2 - bridge 4 now.png

Then … The bus heads to the terminal via the first San Francisco exit, signposted to Fifth and First Streets. (CitySleuth is curious as to the purpose of that kiosk).

… and Now, the same exit today has been rebuilt and widened and is now signposted to Fremont and Folsom Streets.


From the bus terminal the suspect takes a cab to a rooming house in an older section of the city (to be revealed in the next post).


Born To Kill - Two meetings

Then ...  Helen wants to find out more about Marty and his relationship with Sam so she arranges to meet him in town.  Based on the window view looking east to the Bay Bridge they can only be at the Fairmont hotel atop Nob Hill.

  The same view was seen in the movie The Lady From Shanghai, below, released the same year.  From Nob Hill Sacramento Street runs down through the financial district just left of center towards the Ferry Building.

and Now ... in the Fairmont view today new highrise offices have replaced or hidden most of those buildings but the bridge is a constant and some of the foreground buildings are still there in Chinatown at bottom left.  The two tallest structures in the city are at far left (Transamerica Building) and far right (the formerly named Bank Of America Building at 555 California Street).


  Now this is interesting ...  Here's an earlier scene in the movie at the Mark Hopkins Hotel - in the window view the position of the Ferry Building tower relative to the bridge's central caisson is slightly different from the Fairmont's view (compare it to the top image), consistent with the one block separation of the two hotels.  But the waiters in each scene are wearing the same uniform (one waiter looks fatter than the other) and the potted plants are the same ones!  Clearly both scenes were filmed in the studio on the same soundstage but with different background projections setting their location.


Then ...  Helen next arranges a meeting with the detective Arnett.  She is torn; on the one hand she had tipped Arnett that Marty had visited Sam, on the other she wants to prevent Sam's arrest for murder.  They meet at a lonely spot near the Bay Bridge and once again Helen is wearing a stylish outfit (For a droll look at her wardrobe throughout this movie go here).

and Now ... This view of the bridge is from Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco glittering across the bay.  The scene took place in the studio using a background projection filmed from an access ramp alongside the bridge (map).


  Helen offers Arnett $5,000 if he drops his investigation.  Unscrupulous and wily, he first reminds her that convicted murderers in Nevada get the death penalty then demands $15,000.  She has no option but to agree.  As they part he leans over ...

"Has it occurred to you, neither of us looks like a scoundrel ... do we?"


Experiment In Terror - Across The Bridge

Then ...  The movie opens with a view of the double-deck San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, accompanied by a hauntingly edgy Henry Mancini theme.

... and Now,  the same view today, taken from Yerba Buena Island (map) looking towards San Francisco.


  The camera closes in on Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick) as she drives across the bridge into San Francisco to her home, which, as we will find out, is at the base of the Sutro Tower, the huge antenna mast near Twin Peaks visible in the photo above to the right of the bridge on the horizon.  The tower, however, was yet to be built when the movie was filmed.


Then ...  Below, Kelly's open convertible has just entered the bottom of the frame on the top deck of the bridge as traffic at bottom right filters in from Yerba Buena/Treasure Island.  Note that the upper deck in 1962 was two-way, 3 lanes in each direction.  The lower deck back then had both car lanes and rail lines of the discontinued Key System shuttle train.

... and Now,  this recent photo shows the present configuration of the upper deck - 5 lanes one-way westbound into San Francisco, converted in 1968, by which time the lower deck had been cleared of the rail lines to make way for one-way eastbound car traffic.


Then ...  From the bridge, the camera takes in the sparkling city - the iconic Ferry Building is at lower right.

... and Now,  the same view today is a crush of Financial District highrises.


  Kelly arrives at her Twin Peaks home and eases her 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner convertible into the garage.

    She gets out of her car and freezes as the garage door suddenly and inexplicably closes.  Gasp! - an attacker grabs her from behind and, wheezing asthmatically, he threatens to kill her and her younger sister if she doesn't cooperate in stealing $100,000 from the bank where she works.  (Watch this scene unfold here).

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