Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Sudden Fear - Train Ride West

  After Myra's play has become a huge hit she decides she needs a rest and catches a train to her hometown San Francisco.

Then ...  She is seen off at New York's Grand Central Terminal at tracks 24/25.

... and Now,  this wonderful Midtown Beaux Arts building at 42nd Street and Park Avenue (map) still operates as a rail terminal.  It has hardly changed over the years, attracting tourists as well as travelers.  Here are those same doorways in a recent photo.


  On the train who should show up but Lester Blaine (Jack Palance) who Myra had fired for not being romantic-looking enough for her new play.  For the duration of the cross-country journey Lester turns on the charm, seeming to harbor no grudge whatsoever.


Then ...  They board the luxury California Zephyr at Chicago and share a quiet moment in one of the Zephyr's Vistadome viewing cars.  In a great irony Myra finds herself falling for him.

  But hang on ... reader CDL has informed CitySleuth that the Vistadome car seen above with square, angled windows was never used on the California Zephyr; its domes were styled with rounded windows (see below left).  Next to it is the same style dome railcar as used in the movie, pictured at San Diego's ATSF Depot.  Apparently the movie train scenes were filmed in Southern California using an available railcar.

... and Now,  the Zephyr was inaugurated in 1949 but suffered severe passenger fall-off in the 1960s from airline and bus competition and was retired from service in 1970.  The only way to enjoy it these days is to take one of the occasional nostalgia rides as did the folks below on last year's annual Feather River Express in a car matching the one used in the movie.


Then ...  Speaking of the Feather River, Myra and Lester's train is seen below snaking its way through the Feather River canyon in Plumas County, Northern California, a route chosen to take advantage of a low pass through the Sierra mountains.  Note the five (including the rear car) Vistadomes gleaming from the reflected light.  Today only freight trains ply their way along this route.

... and Now,  here's a recent photo of the scenic Feather River canyon looking in the opposite direction in late summer when the river flow was down to a trickle.


As acknowledgement of the importance of the canyon passage to the California Zephyr experience the Western Pacific engines incorporated a feather into their front logo.


Then ...  Their train, pulled by Western Pacific engine number 805-D, arrives at its western terminal at the Oakland Pier, aka Oakland Mole.  From here Myra and other ongoing passengers would walk to a waiting ferry to complete the journey to San Francisco.

... in 1931 ...  here's an early aerial photo of the Oakland Pier terminal with three ferries awaiting passengers.  It's not there any more having been demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Port of Oakland's container ship facilities.

... and Now,  where was the Oakland Pier?  To answer that, the aerial above has been superimposed onto the current map below at its original location- it was at the west end of 7th Street, not far south of the Bay Bridge.


  To see the California Zephyr in full color check out this 1950s or 60s photo of a train pulled by Western Pacific engine number 805-A leaving the Oakland Pier.

... and Now, containers and cranes block today's view from 7th Street.  The cantilever section of the Bay Bridge's eastern span can be seen in the distance in this photo taken just before it was pulled down, replaced by a new single tower suspension design.


Then ...  Myra is met by friends at Oakland and can't wait to introduce Lester to them, insisting they all go dining and dancing together that evening.  Note the 'To San Francisco' sign behind them with an arrow pointing to the right and the words 'Waiting Room' and 'Up Ramp' ...

... in 1957 ...  Five years after Sudden Fear was filmed Frank Sinatra arrived at the Oakland Pier by train in the movie Pal Joey.  In the panoramic image below from that movie we see the same sign; at far right is the referenced ramp.

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