Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lady From Shanghai - On The Lam - Li Po and Mandarin Theatre 2

  Orson Welles was a master at intermixing location and studio footage to create seamless action, as demonstrated by the following sequence.

Then ...  Elsa chases after O'Hara along Grant Avenue, seen here crossing Washington Street (map).  (Once again we see another Chop Suey restaurant!)  This is a pure location shot.

... and Now,  today's view, looking west along Washington, is very similar.  The corner store, above at far right, is now a dive bar, the Buddha Lounge at 901 Grant.  The hazy outline of the apartment building at 1360 Jones is at the top of the hill - its rooftop was used by the camera which filmed a panoramic city view shown earlier in the movie, see it here.


Then ...  Next we have a shot filmed in the studio with a rear projection of location footage.  Elsa stops on the 900 block of Grant and draws from her Shanghai experience to ask a local in Chinese if she saw a man dash by.  Behind her is the venerable Li Po bar at 916 Grant.

... in 2012 …  Li Po, there since 1935, is still going strong.  The old dive bar with its cave-like entrance looked the same in 2012, especially its ancient sign, but inside it had morphed into a gaudy watering hole with a funky music club downstairs.

… in 2018 … The neon sign has just been restored and repainted, seen here in this recent photo by Caleb Pershan. CitySleuth, a diehard nostalgist, prefers the faded original; not unlike after a drastic face job, it has lost its matured personality and no longer shows its age.

... and Now - inside,  CitySleuth can't find an old interior photo but he can at least share this one he took on a recent afternoon while enjoying a Tsingtao beer.  One can only close one's eyes and imagine how it looked in the past - dark, opium-filled, who knows what else.


Then ...  The local alerts Elsa that O'Hara is in the Mandarin Theatre a block north at 1021 Grant (seen earlier here).  She wastes no time heading for the ticket kiosk.

... a similar image,  but wait a minute, the street view above looks nothing like Chinatown's Grant Avenue.  And CitySleuth remembers seeing this view before, here it is below, from the 1952 movie The Sniper.  The sidewalk railing and the houses across the street all match up.  But where was it filmed? ... read on ...

... the studio backlot,  both of the scenes above were filmed at Columbia Ranch, Columbia Pictures' backlot in Burbank, Southern California.  Below is a contemporaneous image taken at the ranch of its Brownstone Street, showing the houses and the railing, also seen above.  The ranch is still operational, now known as the Warner Ranch, but these houses were destroyed by fire years ago.  (Go here for a map of Columbia ranch).


  Welles continues his trickery when next we get the ticket seller's point-of-view of Elsa in front of the kiosk, but he gets careless.  Again it's a studio shot but the projected view behind her is of Li Po's bar which we just learned above is at 916 Grant.  The Mandarin Theatre is a block away at 1021 Grant, a rare example of lack of attention to detail.  Or then again, it might just reflect Welles’ well-known penchant for bars.

The Lady From Shanghai -  On The Lam - Li Po and Mandarin Theatre 2

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