Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Fog Over Frisco - To The Bridge!

Then ...  Val, responding to Arlene's telegrammed cry for help, speeds south down 4th Street on her way to Butchertown Bridge.   Behind her, facing us, is the Roos Bros. department store on Market Street (map).

... and Now,  The store today houses the Union Square branch of Forever 21.

     The Roos Bros. store opened October 31, 1908 to great fanfare, an important contribution to the city's downtown post-earthquake recovery.  It's pictured here after a 1937 remodel; Stockton Street intersects at far left.

 

Then ...  Now it's the turn of the police to join the chase - a police captain's car pulls out of Harbor Police Station from the left side and heads  south on Drumm Street, about to pass the masonry arched Engine 12 firehouse at far right on the southwest corner of Drumm and Commercial Street.

... and Now,   Three Embarcadero Center replaced this block of Commercial Street in the 1970s and a pedestrian bridge was added above Drumm.   Ann Taylor and a Naturalizer Store currently overlap the location of the old firehouse site (map).

    This 1953 photo of a 1929 hose tender taken outside the Engine 12 firehouse shows the masonry arches seen in the movie.  The window visible through the open door looked out onto Commercial.

 

Then ...  The police station, kitty-korner across Drumm from the firehouse, spits out a cadre of cops on bikes.

... a vintage photo ...  a wider view of Harbor Police Station, on the northeast corner of Drumm and Commercial, is seen in this photo.

... and Now,   the Embarcadero Four Center sits astride where this Commercial Street block used to be.  For a look at the block before it was demolished go here.

 

Then ...  Tony's cab isn't far behind Val as it heads across Market about to turn into 4th Street.  Note the vertical sign at far left for the California Theatre, San Francisco's first real movie palace, which opened in 1917.

... and Now,   the building on the right corner dates from 1908 and has survived but the one across 4th at 799 Market has undergone a complete makeover and no longer hoses a theatre.

    For those theatre history buffs amongst us here's a c. 1917 photo of the newly opened California Theater.

    .... by 1944 the movie house had been renamed the State Theatre but the building had not yet been rebuilt.  The theatre was closed down in 1961.  Note Roos Bros. store opposite.

 

Then ...  When the cops make a turn into a wide thoroughfare a barely legible United Cigars store sign on the corner at left provided the clue to this location.

... a vintage photo ...   CitySleuth came across this 1921 photo taken from the same spot; it looks east along Mission Street past 4th (map).  The United Cigars store was at 99 4th Street.

... and Now,   this part of SoMa is rapidly yielding its soul to an encroachment of impersonal modern buildings.

 

    Here's a challenge, dear readers - the location of this next shot of Tony's cab has so far stumped CitySleuth.  Does anybody out there recognize it?  (The sloping hill at the end of the street may be the best clue).

 

The Penalty - A Diabolical Plan, Revealed

    Blizzard continues to outline his plot to his chief lieutenant, O'Hagan; in it, another policeman is cut down by the anarchists.  (This location has studio back lot written all over it).

 

Then ...  The police respond in force from the old Hall Of Justice at 750 Kearny Street at Washington.

... and Now,  the Hall Of Justice moved to new quarters at 850 Bryant Street in the 1960s after which the old structure was razed in 1967 to make way for a hotel, the Hilton San Francisco Financial District (map).  In the same view today an overhead pedestrian bridge links the hotel to Portsmouth Square Plaza across Kearny.

    Here's the Old Hall Of Justice viewed from Portsmouth Square in the 1958 movie The LineUp 38 years after it appeared in The Penalty.  

 

Then ...  The horde turns its attention to banks, in this case the Union Trust Banking Hall on Market at Grant, and Blizzard's intentions begin to become clear - his plan is to rob the City clean while police and fire responders are distracted.

... and Now,  it's still a bank - now a branch of Wells Fargo (map).

 

Then ...  Blizzard directs his men carrying bags of loot down the steps of the Old San Francisco Mint.

... and Now,  the 1874 structure still stands in SoMa at 5th Street and Mission (map), but it no longer mints coins...

    ... the task of minting coins was transferred in 1937 from the old to the new Mint at Hermann and Buchanan at the eastern tip of the Duboce Triangle (map), pictured here from the Market Street Safeway parking lot.

 

Then ...  Interestingly, while imagining the action on the steps of the old Mint Blizzard sees himself with amputated legs restored.

... and Now,  those same steps today.

 

   The audacious plan startles O'Hagan ...  "By God! You've gone mad!".  Blizzard angrily sends him away.

 

Harold And Maude - Shocking News

    Harold's Mom is amazed to hear that he plans on getting married.  Then, when he shows her a photo of Maude, her shocked expression says it all.

 

   She lines up all of Harold's authority figures but they, in tandem with the background presence of theirs, fail to dissuade him.

 

    The young beau has everything worked out and plans to pop the question on Maude's birthday, surprising her with a private sunflower-themed celebration in her railcar.  But she reminds him of her philosophy of life, and death - she always intended to depart on her 80th birthday; in fact she has just taken the pills.  Aghast, it's Harold's turn to be shocked.

 

Then ...  He calls for an ambulance, seen here racing along the curving approach to a hospital.

... in the 1970s ...  viewed from the same approach road this vintage photo shows the hospital as the ambulance saw it; it was the Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame (map), not far from San Francisco's International Airport. This building was replaced in 2012 by the new Mills-Peninsula Hospital in response to seismic concerns.

    Here's a 2010 satellite view taken while the new hospital was being constructed alongside the old.  Click or tap the image to see it today; the new hospital's parking lot now covers the site of the old hospital.

 

Then and Now,  While the doctors fight for Maude's life Harold waits through the night fearing the worst, hoping for the best.  As dawn breaks he looks to the hills west of the hospital.  Click or tap the image to see how the hillside would look today were that room still there.

    Reflections add interest to this shot as the camera peers into the waiting room from outside as the doctor delivers the fateful news... Maude is gone.

 

Then ...  Griefstricken, he jumps into his car and takes off, driving past a cemetery seen briefly earlier in the movie.

... and Now,  This is the Sneath Lane side of the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno (map).

 

Fog Over Frisco - A Cryptic Telegram

    We learned in the prior post that Arlene has been murdered but Val is unaware.  When she receives a telegram signed by Arlene asking for help at the Butcher Town bridge she rushes to meet her.

... a vintage photo ...  Butchertown really did exist in San Francisco.  It was an area in the Bayview neighborhood that housed all of the city's animal slaughterhouses and associated businesses.  The photo below was taken at a slaughterhouse at 3rd and Evans Avenue (map) in 1921.  Butchertown's prime (excuse the pun) was in the late 1800s through 1906 but it wasn't until 1971 that its last slaughterhouse finally closed.

 

Then ...  Val, driving Arlene's car, doesn't know that her sister's lifeless body is stuffed into the trunk.  She heads down a steep hill on her way to the bridge. 

... a vintage photo ...  but the shot above was filmed not in San Francisco; this is Bunker Hill, Los Angeles.  Below is a 1948 image of the same street, viewed south towards Olive St. from Grand Avenue down 2nd St. (map).  CitySleuth recognized it from a couple of movies he has already covered:  1952's Sudden Fear, where Gloria Grahame meets a sudden end, and 1962's Days Of Wine And Roses where Lee Remick visits Jack Lemmon in the Chaspeak Apartments at 512 W. 2nd, the Victorian on the far right.

... and Now,  this location looks completely different today after the Bunker Hill neighborhood was razed in the 1950s and 60s.  Nostalgists like CitySleuth are grateful that the unique character of the old neighborhood can still be experienced in several old movies.

 

Then ...  Val's reporter friend Tony who had found Arlene's body hears of the telegram and commandeers a Yellow Cab to rush to Butchertown bridge.  But now we are back in San Francisco as the cab heads down Hyde Street...

... and Now,  with Alcatraz in the distance this view down Hyde was filmed from Lombard (map).  Turning 90 degrees to the right would have revealed Lombard's famous crooked street, constructed 12 years before the movie was filmed.  Better had they sent the cab down there!

 

Then ...  The cab continues down Hyde, seen here from Beach Street.  The tall building at the top of the hill is the View Tower Apartments at 2238 Hyde, built in 1928.  Note the vertical garage sign at far right...

... and Now,  in the same view today a cable car waits its turn until a departing one at the Hyde Street Pier terminus, just off the right side, makes room for it.  The blue and red store up the block on the right occupies the site of the garage mentioned above...

    ... it's Blazing Saddles, a bike rental store at 2715 Hyde Street.  If you peer long enough at the Then image above, as CitySleuth would, you can see that this building and the adjacent one next to it uphill appear little changed for almost a century since being built in 1925.

 

Then ...  Val's father, alerted to Arlene's murder by the reporter, joins the frantic rush down Hyde Street in his limousine, filmed here from Francisco Street.

... and Now,  back in the 1930s there were more cable car lines than nowadays but this, the Powell/Hyde line, is one of the survivors. 

 

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