Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

The Lineup - Customs Office

  Our dogged sleuths go to the headquarters customs building at 555 Battery Street near Jackson to complain about the lax inspection that allowed the heroin to get through.  The U.S. Custom House, as it is officially named, was built in 1911 at a time when government income was mostly derived from customs revenue prior to the introduction of the income tax in 1913 (map).

Then ...   the building is in the Beaux Arts Classicism style and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

... and Now


Then ...  the main entrance ...

... and Now,  just the same.


Then ...  Inside the building, Lt. Guthrie and Inspector Quine enter the office of Chester McPhee, the Collector of Customs.

... and Now ,  Chester McPhee was indeed the real Collector of Customs at that time and this scene was filmed in his office, No. 321 on the third floor.  The recent photo below shows the same wood panelling.  Only the  lettering on the door glazing has been changed.


Then ...  Chester McPhee (Francis De Sales) explains that they lack the staff to check every incoming traveller.  We get a better look, below, of the traditional office with its oak-panelled walls and marble fireplace.

... and Now ,  we can see the office looks the same after all these years.  Even the desk and the chair that Quine was sitting on.


  The Customs House was seismically renovated in the 1990's, involving stripping all the wall surfaces then replacing them with the original materials.  Here's a picture of Chester McPhee's office after it was stripped down.


  Trivia note - this office was also used for a scene in the 1983 movie 'The Right Stuff' (below) where the head of Life magazine offers the Gemini astronauts a deal for their story.  (Note those same carved wall sconses on either side of the window).


Then ...  In that movie, the astronauts were shown, below, in the adjacent office No. 320 after they leave No. 321, visible through the open doorway.

... and Now ,  room 320 today (below) looks just as it always has.

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