The Sniper - Fifth Victim, on the Smokestack
The sniper is at it again. Miller is lurking on a downtown rooftop - the roof of 14 Mint Plaza (called 54 Mint Street when the movie was filmed), a narrow building running between the narrow Jessie and Stevenson Streets (map). It's a half block south of Market Street, behind the old 5th Street Mint. Studio and location footage were seamlessly merged to create the scene and two buildings were used to appear as one.
Then ... The sniper looks down from his vantage point
... and Now, the same view, looking along Stevenson towards 5th Street. The rear of 14 Mint Plaza is now painted white.
Then ... Miller sets his sights on an unsuspecting woman below him on Stevenson Street. Behind him you can just see a painter starting to climb up a smokestack.
... and Now, 14 Mint Plaza, on the left with the four balconies, viewed looking down Stevenson in the other direction, with the same smokestack next to it. It belongs to the NRG Energy Center, a steam generation plant which was run by PG&E when the movie was filmed (map).
Suddenly the painter sees the sniper and starts yelling a warning to the people below, not a smart idea if you are dangling from a rope within easy range. Sure enough Miller, angry for being distracted from his original target, fires and seals the fate of the fifth victim. This shot and the one above were filmed in the studio with a projection screen behind showing the smokestack.
The man who played the role of the painter was Ralph Clark, a San Francisco steeplejack well-known for his daring stunts. Below are two vintage photos of him at work: at left, installing a cross atop St. Paulus Lutheran Church in the Western Addition in 1950 and at right hanging from the Southern Pacific Building at 65 Market Street in 1951.
Then ... This however is certainly location footage ... still on the roof of 14 Mint Plaza, Miller makes his getaway, captured in this composited panorama.
... and Now, from the same spot, we can still see Potrero Hill in the distance and that white office building on Mission Street.
Then ... This is interesting - we next see the sniper climbing down a ladder from the roof towards a fire escape balcony, but this is a different building! It's the one opposite the smokestack building across Stevenson. This upper half of the building has since been removed but the lower half is still there.
Then ... And here, below, he continues down the building's fire escape. Note where the upper section of the building started, in the top left corner.
... and Now, the upper section of the building has been removed but the lower part is still recognizable. The upper row of three bricked-in windows below are the same as those above. Also remaining is the bracket to the left of the upper left window.
Then ... He climbs down the rest of the way and jumps to the pavement on Stevenson.
... and Now, the windows are bricked in but the bracket mounting holes over to the left and the two protruding pipes below them can still be seen. The red paint covering urban graffitti is an unfortunate sign of the times - in many ways the past was a better time.