Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Play It Again, Sam - Art Gallery

Then ...  The search continues for a new girlfriend for Allan ... Linda thinks an art gallery might be a good place.  They visit the West Gallery at the San Francisco Museum of Art, (renamed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art three years later), which at that time was on the fourth floor of the War Memorial Veteran's Building in the Civic Center (map).

... and Now,  the museum has since moved to grander, dedicated quarters; this space is currently occupied by San Francisco Opera's Costume Studio.  The wall at left has been opened up and the tall opening to the next gallery at right on the back wall has been partially filled in.


    Linda spots a potential candidate standing at the end of the gallery in front of a Jackson Pollock - she urges Allan to go over and ask her out.


Then ...  He asks what she thinks of the Pollock whereupon she delivers a rambling esoteric monolog.  Unphased, he delivers the funniest line in the movie ...

"What are you doing Saturday?"

"Committing suicide".

"What about Friday night?"

... and Now,  more wall changes are visible in today's matching view.


... a vintage photo ...  here's a 1958 photo of the West Gallery taken from the same spot as the shot above.  The museum was housed in this and other galleries on the 4th floor of the Veteran's Building from 1935 to 1994 after which it moved to its current home, the Mario Botta designed Museum of Modern Art, on 3rd Street in SoMa.


Play It Again, Sam - Nymphomaniac

    After Allan strikes out with Sharon, Linda tries again, recommending Jennifer but cautioning him that she's a nymphomaniac.  He is undeterred.

   He approaches a cab, waiting while it disgorges a group of grass-smoking hippies ...


Then ...  but quickly regrets getting in, having to immediately leap out to escape the acrid fumes.

... and Now,  this was filmed on Buchanan Street in Pacific Heights looking south towards Jackson (map).  The bricked building at left is 2518 Buchanan.


    He finally meets Jennifer and after spending all evening hearing that all she's interested in is sex, sex and more sex, he makes his move, only to be rebuffed with a shriek.


Then ...  He descends the outside steps totally confused, wondering how he could have misread her.

... and Now,  Jennifer's place is at 2065 Vallejo Street, in Cow Hollow (map), just a couple of blocks from the cab episode location above.  Clearly the occupants here have no need of a fitness club membership.


Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers - Chinese Laundry

Then ...  When Matthew spills coffee on his shirt he takes it to his favorite Chinese laundry.  We see him here passing the Four Seas restaurant in Chinatown.

... and Now,  the same entrance today, at 731 Grant Avenue (map), has retained the wall decoration but the doors have been replaced.

... and Now,  the Four Seas took over the restaurant from the original Hang Far Low in the early 1960s, serving the neighborhood for decades until it closed in 2014.  It recently reopened as Mr. Jiu's who moved the entrance to the rear of the building at 28 Waverly Place.  The recent photo below shows the prominent Four Seas sign is still there on Grant, above the front entrance.


Then ...  He continues down Grant, here crossing Sacramento Street.

... and Now,  the same junction today.


Then ...  But as he enters the laundry it is clear from the Victorian houses reflected in the side window that this place is not in Chinatown.

... and Now,  in fact, it's miles away in the Haight district, at 1515 Waller Street (map).  It was called Russ Cleaners back then and it's still Russ Cleaners today.  But at least it's Chinese owned.


Then ...  The owner, thinking Matthew is a doctor, beckons him over to tell him he's very concerned - his wife "she different", "not my wife".

... and Now,  on a recent visit, based on the many racks filling the space, CitySleuth concludes the locals launder their shirts more often than they used to.


Then ...  When he leaves, a wider view of the laundry reveals more details that enabled CitySleuth to find this place.  Not for the first time the audience is left puzzling over what is being disposed of in the garbage truck.

... and Now,  the same view of 1515 Waller Street today.


  Russ Cleaners took over from Waller-Clayton Street Cleaning and Dyeing works in the 1950s and has been in business continuously under this name since then. 


Play It Again, Sam - Hong Fat Noodle Company

    Despite Allan's bizzare behaviour back at his apartment, Sharon comes along as his date, accompanied here by Linda as they arrive at the Hong Fat Noodle Company restaurant.  (But you can just make out the edges of a temporarily applied plastic sheet on the window, suggesting that a fictitious name was affixed just for this scene).


Then ...  CitySleuth could not find any record of a restaurant of this name in San Francisco.  But as they enter, there are a few clues that helped him find this location.  The girls climb two steps to the door, at bottom right there's a handrail and across the street is what could be a brightly lit nightclub.

... and Now,  here's the same view from the restaurant today - note the similar, if not the same, handrail.

Then ...  Inside, Allan continues making a fool of himself by demonstrating the right way to eat rice - by stuffing his face as fast as possible.  Sharon has seen enough ... she ups and leaves.  This shot yields another clue to the restaurant location - the sign across the road in the top right corner that reads 'Pepper'.

... and Now,  there's now a takeout counter where their table was.  So, enough already, where is this location?  Read on ...


    A search for 'Pepper' in the 1972 San Francisco street directory brought up the Peppermint Tree night club at 660 Broadway in North Beach at the edge of Chinatown.  And across the street from it?  The Yank Sing restaurant at 671 Broadway.  This was where the restaurant scene was filmed (map).

    As confirmation, a subsequent web search for Yank Sing yielded a 2005 online article about its history that mentioned that the restaurant was featured in  Play It Again, Sam.


 The location now ...  In 1974 Yank Sing moved to another location in town where it is still in business.  But its old location - the movie location - at 671 Broadway, now the VIP Coffee and Cakes Shop, looks just as it did, including those two steps and the handrail.


   As it turns out, there was a restaurant called Hong Fat Noodle Company at 63 Mott Street in New York City's Chinatown (map), in business when Play It Again Sam was filmed but long since closed.  It was a very popular dining spot with the local Chinese community and those fortunate others who knew about it (CitySleuth suspects Woody Allen was one of them and that he borrowed its name for the movie).  Here's a recent photo of that location - the restaurant was upstairs via those stairs.


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