Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Capture and Escape

Then … Matthew and Elizabeth flee ahead of the pursuing pod people past a line of columned lamps. City Hall is in the background.

… and Now, this is the United Nations (U.N.) Plaza (map). The Plaza was installed along the former alignment of Fulton Street during the reconstruction of Market Street following the excavation for the Market Street Bart Subway. It opened in 1975 but the view now from the same spot shows foreground access stairs down to the Civic Center station that were installed 2 years after Invasion Of The Body Snatchers was filmed when the Muni Metro line was added to the Subway.

 

This recent beautiful image shows the U.N. Plaza as good as you will ever see it. It was designed by the renowned San Francisco environmental architect Lawrence Halprin. (In a location trivia note, Halprin’s office appeared in a scene in the movie Bullit). The Bart/Muni Metro stairs are bounded by the railing on the left

 

Then … They come across their street busker friend and his boxer dog (they were seen earlier in the movie) sleeping next to a pod. Knowing what’s about to happen Matthew kicks the pod in disgust.

… and Now, the view is from Polk Street near the Grove Street junction (map) looking west past City Hall to Van Ness.

Later in the movie we see that a kick in the pod has consequences: the busker’s body snatching gene transfer didn’t quite go as planned…

 

Then … They run across Grove Street and enter their workplace at 101 Grove, described in more detail earlier.

… and Now, the entrance still looks the same.

 

Then … from an upstairs window they watch an army of pod people lining up to distribute pods across the Bay Area; they fear that their days are numbered.

… and Now, this is the south side of City Hall along Grove Street.

 

Without warning, the pod versions of their former friends show up and capture them, administering a sedative drug to send them asleep alongside two pods.

 

Then … But they manage to escape from the building and the pod people by jumping into a moving truck.

… and Now, on the left is the east side of their workplace, the Department Of Public Health; ahead, Polk Street crosses Grove then recedes to the north. The old First Aid sign partially visible at top left above is still affixed to the wall.

 

Play It Again, Sam - Fearful

Over coffee Allan cannot stop thinking about his affair. He rationalizes that Dick is sophisticated enough to accept that his wife might fall in love with his best friend…

Other than the smiley face poster, (does it read ‘Chuckburger’?) there aren’t enough clues here to figure out where this cafe was.

 

Then … But then, alarmed, he worries that Dick might be driven to suicide once he finds out, imagining him marching to his demise into the swirling surf at Ocean Beach at the westernmost edge of the city (map)

… and Now, the tide is out in this recent view looking south from near the Cliff House. (That’s one of Golden Gate Park’s windmills on the left).

 

Then … But wait, it could be worse … perhaps it will be Allan’s life at risk - the sight of an Italian movie poster prompts him to imagine an enraged Dick on a vendetta.

… a vintage photo, he was passing the Palace Theater, opposite Washington Square park at the junction of Columbus and Powell in North Beach (map). This is an image of how it looked when the movie was filmed at which time it was also showing Chinese movies and was known as the Pagoda Palace.

After being closed for years the theater was demolished in 2013 when it was deemed the ideal spot to extract the two boring machines that had dug the twin Central Subway tunnels extending the T-Third Street line from near the Giant’s ballpark 1.7 miles north into Chinatown. (Read more about that here). The photo below captures a piece of one of them being hoisted from the retrieval shaft in 2014 at the old theater site. (Watch a time-lapse video of both machines being removed here).

… and Now, a new retail/condominium structure has been built on the site retaining the blade sign as a reminder of its historic past.

 

Then … Allan pictures himself as a bakery worker being attacked by fellow worker Dick, first amusingly with bread dough then, more seriously, with a knife. Behind him there’s a turn-of-the -century Italian baking oven, a clue as to the location.

CitySleuth is often asked how he finds a location. His search for this one is but one example, involving many dead ends but at each one finding a further lead to pursue.

In the 1970s the North Beach neighborhood was home to a host of bakeries, a good place to start looking. CitySleuth visited them all: the Liguria Bakery at 1700 Stockton is still there but their oven doesn’t match this one; Danilo’s at 516 Green, now Baonecci’s, also still has its oven but again, different; the Italian-Swiss Bakery, most recently Sylvia’s Pastry, at 1501 Grant was gutted just weeks ago and its oven removed but an unearthed vintage photo showed it also to be different. CitySleuth spoke to the owner of the Victoria Pastry Co. that back then was at Stockton and Vallejo but he ruled it out as the place. The store at 1351 Grant that once housed Figoni Hardware still has ovens downstairs, unused for decades, but they don’t match either. Finally, a hot lead: at the venerable Gino and Carlo bar the owner pointed CitySleuth across the street to where Cuneo Bakery used to be.

… and Now, the Cuneo Bakery site was at 523 Green Street; it’s now a Copy Center and sadly its old ovens are no longer there. CitySleuth was referred to Mark Sodini, owner of Sodini’s Restaurant across the street who used to work at the bakery. He confirmed that the movie scene was filmed at Cuneo; what’s more, he was upstairs in the building while the scene was being shot downstairs. Cuneo Bakery relocated years ago to South San Francisco where it continues as a wholesale business. The current co-owner Wendy Mallegni is the daughter of the family who owned and operated the North Beach site and she too confirmed that the scene was filmed here at 523 Green.

With the movie oven gone a matching photo isn’t possible but the extant example across the street in the basement of Baonecci’s at 516 Green is very similar, possiby the same manufacturer, and is offered here as consolation. Compare it to the ‘Then’ image above.

17 - fearful 7 (danilos, now baoneccis.jpg
 

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers - Cab ride

Then … The pod mob continues to chase Matthew and Elizabeth, here passing Beppino’s, a Ristorante and Bar inside the PSA San Francisco Hotel at 1231 Market near 8th Street (map).

… and Now, the hotel is now the Hotel Whitcomb. Beppino’s is long gone; its entrance too, having been closed off with a convincing match to the exterior facade.

 

Then … We next see them walking on Broadway at Columbus in the North Beach red light district having apparently shaken off their pursuers. The brick arches behind them belong to the Condor Club (map), notorious since the 1960s for being the first club in the nation to feature topless (and later, bottomless) entertainment by their star stripper Carol Doda.

… and Now, the brightly back-lit posters above belonged to the adjacent topless club, Big Al’s. It segued over the years into an adult bookstore then a grocery store and finally a smoke shop before closing down. It has been shuttered for years.

CitySleuth would be remiss not to let us sneak a peek at why Ms. Doda was smirkily dubbed “the new Twin Peaks of San Francisco”. Forty four injections of silicone reportedly boosted her reputation.

 

Then … A short way along the block they pass the Roaring 20s club then get into a cab parked alongside the Hungry I club (for some reason its sign had been sanitized by masking the word ‘NUDE’).

… and Now, the Hungry I was, and still is, on the corner of Romolo Place, a steep alley that heralds the slopes of Telegraph Hill. (But don’t confuse it with the historic 1950s beat/folk era Hungry I club which used to be located in the basement of the International Hotel two blocks away at 599 Jackson Street). After all these years the Roaring 20s too is still there; it too had a predecessor - Varni’s Roaring 20s at 807 Montgomery Street.

 

As the cab pulls away take a look at who’s driving, in a cameo role. It’s Don Siegel who was the director of the original 1956 version of this movie. Siegel directed many other movies including the 1971 San Francisco classic Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood.

 

Then … On their way through a tunnel the cabbie is unusually curious about where they are going. He wants to know why and the simultaneous appearance of a pair of motorcycle cops makes them fear that they are in the hands of pod people.

… and Now, this is the Robert C. Levy, aka Broadway, Tunnel (map), an underground link between Larkin and Powell Streets in the Russian Hill neighborhood. Built in 1952, it has aged well over the years. CitySleuth has driven through this tunnel dozens of times but only occasionally has he seen a pedestrian on the noisy six-block-long walkway on the right.

 

Then … When the cab stops at a police roadblock they slip out and run off. The overpass in the background has an ‘early freeway’ look and may have been upgraded or demolished today - CitySleuth is still on the lookout for it.

… and Now, reader Notcom (see comments below) has identified this as the Essex Street on-ramp leading to eastbound I-80 on Harrison Street (map). The overpass at right crossing Harrison is the Fremont/Folsom exit from westbound I-80. Upgrades have since changed this exit structure significantly. The commercial building at left wasn’t built until 1982, after the movie scene was filmed.

 
 

Play It Again, Sam - Elated

Then … Allan relives his tryst as he strolls the streets with a smile on his face: “I was dynamite last night … I gave her my best moves”.

… and Now, filmed at the junction of Vallejo and Buchanan Streets in Cow Hollow (map), the view looks north along Buchanan across the Marina and the bay towards Angel Island and Tiburon. The tall masts provide night-time illumination for the George Moscone Softball Fields.

 

Then … Next, a couple of sight gags; first a tiny tyke yaps at him as he walks by, startling him into jumping backwards. Perhaps the perceptive pup somehow knew he’d been a naughty boy.

… and Now, this is a block and a half south of the previous shot, in front of 2614 Buchanan between Broadway and Pacific (map), which just happens to be Linda’s house.

 

Then … And finally nobody notices as Allan nonchalantly slaps an unsuspecting man reading a newspaper, knocking him over the edge of a low wall. The camera’s telescopic lens expands and draws in the distant Bay Bridge.

… and Now, this is the Vallejo Street cul-de-sac above Montgomery Street in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood (map). Despite being 5 blocks from the waterfront there’s an unobstructed view of the Bay Bridge from here … well, absent the trees, that is. (Much as CitySleuth would have liked an unobstructed matching view of the wall it’s nigh on impossible to capture because of residents’ omnipresent parked cars).

16 - elated 3 now.png
 

Then … In an antique store Allan shops for a music box, presumably a gift for Linda. He bumps into his ex, Nancy, and when she asks about girlfriends he denies he has one. Guilt is starting to set in. As she leaves the store note the business across the street; its sign is mostly obscured by the door but it ends in ‘GUE’. This is the big clue as to the location.

Union Street in Cow Hollow used to be the go-to place for antique stores and the 1972 city directory lists a men’s clothing store at 1858 Union called Union Rogue (which matches the U…….GUE above). And, there was an antique store directly opposite at 1861 Union called Urban Antiques which must have been where the scene was filmed. In a comment below, reader Ron Morehen describes how he was recruited to walk back and forth outside the store while the shooting took place inside. He confirms it was on Union Street but recalls the name as Seawall Antiques. A later directory lists both Urban Antiques and Seawall Newthings Gifts as being at 1861 Union in 1973 but this was published at least a year after the filming took place. Urban or Seawall, either way the antique store was at 1861 Union Street in Cow Hollow (map).

1972 City Directory

… and Now, this is a photo of the most recent business at 1861 Union, called Eurasian Interiors. But when CitySleuth stopped by for a matching photo he found it stripped bare in the midst of a major interior remodel. The Union Rogue men’s store that was across the street is now Ambiance, a women’s boutique.

 

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