Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Filtering by Tag: Fisherman's Wharf

Fog Over Frisco - A Tale Of Two Sisters

    There are two leading ladies in Fog Over Frisco, opposites in every way.  Val Bradford (Margaret Lindsay), daughter of a rich banker, is naive, do-good, eager to please.  Her stepsister Arlene (the young and vivacious Bette Davisis headstrong, rash, a fun-loving risk-taker who thinks only of herself.  As the story unfolds it's interesting to note how the movie's costume and set designers repeatedly reinforce the contrast.

First, through the use of fashion - Val is always well-dressed but sensibly and conservatively.  Arlene prefers trendy outfits that stand out in a crowd.

    In this hilarious juxtaposition Val's propriety is represented by a puritan-style dress whereas Arlene (dare we say it, no bra?) is boldly accented with strips of plaid.


    The way each decorates her bedroom is equally telling.  Val's is conventionally old-fashioned with frilly drapes and traditional Asian art touches...

    ... while Arlene's is starkly Art Deco, all the rage in the 1930s, with a zig-zag mirror frame and geometric waves patterned on the closet doors.


    The butler brings Arlene a radiogram from a mystery friend about to arrive by ship; she rushes to her bedroom window with binoculars to check out the Embarcadero.

   Such radio-transmitted telegrams were often sent from ship to shore in the 1930s. The header on Arlene's tells us that hers came via the Mackay Radio and Telegraph Company; it would have been delivered in an envelope like this one, an example from 1935.


Then ...  she anxiously scans the piers on the waterfront. From right to left are Piers 33, 35, 37 and 39 with Alcatraz and Angel Island in the distance.  This north-facing panorama (part of which was used behind the movie's opening credits) was filmed from the base of Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill (map) but directorial license prevails because, as we will discover in the next post, Arlene Bradford's home was 2 miles away from here.

... and Now,  the matching view below as seen from the top of Coit Tower reveals that only Piers 33 and 35 have survived.  Pier 37 burned down in 1975 and the original Pier 39 was replaced in 1978 by a tacky tourist mall.


Fog Over Frisco - Arlene's Secret

Then ... During the movie's opening credits the background shot of waterfront piers with fog-shrouded Angel Island looming in the distance establishes San Francisco as the setting.  It shows Pier 35 (on the right) and Pier 37 as seen from from Telegraph Hill from the base of Coit Tower which had its grand opening on Aug 3, 1933, six months before Fog Over Frisco was filmed (map).

... and Now,  the view from the same spot today is obscured by trees (when will the city trim them?!) but an elevator ride to the top of the tower reveals the view (is that why the trees are never trimmed?).  Pier 35 is still there but Pier 37 has been removed, clearing space for a marina, part of the mishmash retail repurpose of Pier 39 in 1978.

... a vintage photo ...  here's a 1952 photo of the same piers.  This too was taken from the top of Coit Tower. 


    And so the movie begins ... Arlene Bradford (Bette Davis) loves and lives the good life.  She introduces her doting fiancé Spencer Carleton (Lyle Talbot) and her stepsister Val Bradford (Margaret Lindsay) to Bello's, her favorite dance club, lighting up the screen when she sweeps in, reveling in the attention.


    But she has a secret; she's in on a scheme with club owner Jake Bello to fence stolen bonds.  Not that she needs the money - the very thrill of it all is what turns her on.  While she's in the club Bello slips more bonds into the glove box of her parked car.  (Look at that array of dials!  CitySleuth misses those long-gone days when the world was analog and autos were easy to fix.  Don't you just love the clock in the glove box's door?).


    Her fiancé works at her stepfather's bank.  She is using him to illicitly convert the bonds to cash.  Appalled that she's brought another batch, he protests, but melts under a smoldering 10 second cluster of kisses that would never have gotten past the censor but for the movie's release shortly before the 1930s production code was enforced.  Spencer has no chance - how are the smitten fallen!


The Laughing Policeman - Tailing Camerero

Then ... Larsen has been assigned to tail suspect Camerero, beginning at a small gym alongside the bay.

... and Now,  the gym, still there, belongs to the Dolphin Swimming and Boating Club at 502 Jefferson Street at Aquatic Park (map).  On the right, above, the schooner moored at the Hyde Street pier is the Wapama; it has since been dismantled and in its place, below, we now see the square-rigged sailing ship Balclutha.  On the left, there's a small jetty...

    ... here's a view of the gym in a recent photo looking back from that jetty. The Dolphin Club is cheek by jowl with another club, the South End Rowing Club on the left.


Then ... next up, an energetic game of handball.

... and Now,  the court, in the same building, continues to keep club members on their toes.


Then ... Camerero moves on to a hairdressers with a window view that identifies this location... that's Fredericksen's venerable Cow Hollow hardware store across the street.

... and Now,  the same view from inside the store that currently occupies this site.  To the left it has since been expanded into the  store next door.

    The store is currently the Simply Chic boutique at 3038 Fillmore (map) but back then it was a men's hairstylist called Forum II.

   Fredericksen's has been serving the Cow Hollow neighborhood at 3029 Fillmore since 1896.  In this recent photo the part of the store visible through the hair stylists' window in the Then image above is outlined in yellow.


Then ... The surveillance continues in a parking garage as the suspect walks to his car.

... and Now,  this was filmed on level A of the underground garage of One Embarcadero Center in the Financial District.


Then ... But when Camerero exits the garage, this isn't One Embarcadero Center...

... and Now,  instead, it's the Clay Street exit of the Golden Gateway Garage across the street from One Embarcadero Center (map), viewed from a pedestrian bridge spanning the road.


Then ...  Jake follows him to a narrow street and watches him pull up outside a club where an awning marks a discreet entrance.

... and Now,  this is Ritch Street, an alley in the SoMa South Beach neighborhood close to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants (map).


Then ...  As Camerero enters the club the awning displays the address - 330 Ritch Street.  This was the Ritch Street Health Club, one of the many bath houses that catered in the pre-Aids era to the gay men's community before they were all shut down by the City in the interest of public health.

... and Now,  that same doorway has since been re-addressed as 360 Ritch Street.  Comparing the Then and Now images you can see the identical outline of the bricked-in former windows next to the doorway.  Today retail and commercial businesses occupy the building including the Little Skillet whose Southern Comfort food serves an eager lunch crowd daily from the shuttered window on the left.


  Here's a vintage poster advertising the club that left no room for the imagination as to the activities inside.


Then ...  Inside the club entrance a stairway draped with a colorful tapestry leads up to their "exciting psychedelic 3rd floor".

... and Now,  a storage closet has been built under the stairway at left and plain white walls make for a more appropriate approach to the offices above.


Then ...  Another day but still tailing.  Larsen tries his best to look inconspicuous when Camerero walks right by him after exiting the narrow alley flanked by the pair of concrete bollards.  Note the vertical sign - 'Poster Alley'. 

... and Now,  this is Union Street in Cow Hollow - Larsen was sitting at the steps of 1960 Union Street (map) in the center of the seven-block stretch that back then was a much-touted tourist shopping favorite.  Poster Alley ran alongside the Artisans poster and framing store at 1964 Union, there since the early 1950s.  Customers could view posters and prints hanging in the alley and buy them in the store.

    Artisans is still in business but recently moved to the Sunset district.  In a sign of transition the photo below taken in January 2016 pictures the empty store up for lease.  The bollards are still there on either side of the garage door that now blocks access to the old Poster Alley.


The Man Who Cheated Himself - They Find The Gun!

  A pawn shop tip leads the police to a gun used in a recent liquor store hold-up.  The retrieved bullets match exactly those pumped into Cullen's lover's husband.  Cullen is gob-smacked, after all hadn't he personally thrown the gun from the Golden Gate Bridge into the depths of the bay?

Then ...  Cullen and brother Andy follow up the lead, interviewing the fisherman whose wife had pawned the gun.  In one of of those happenstances that any noir movie worth its salt simply has to have, it turns out he had snagged the gun in his net.

... and Now,  this was filmed at the north edge of the Fisherman's Wharf harbor (map).  in both images we see a boardwalk mid-harbor and beyond that the neighborhood rises to the top of Russian Hill.

... and Now, an aerial view,  the arrow marks the spot where the movie camera filmed the scene, aimed across the harbor in the direction of the arrow.

... the same aerial in 1951,  In the vintage photo below note that when the movie was filmed the boardwalk connected across the harbor via a footbridge, since removed.  On a trivia note, the 1950 San Francisco movie Woman On The Run did a location shoot on this same boardwalk.


Then ...  The detectives take the fisherman to his house to interview the wife - they are seen here on the steps leading to both of the gabled houses; it isn't made clear which of them was meant to be the fisherman's place because the scene faded out at this point but CitySleuth opts for the upstairs unit of the smaller one, given his modest income.  This is 287A Union Street (map) just above the Calhoun Terrace cul-de-sac near the top of Telegraph Hill.

... and Now,  these historic houses (amongst the lucky few at the top of Telegraph Hill that narrowly escaped the 1906 fire) have since seen a number of changes.  The stairs have been redesigned, almost hiding the smaller gable from this angle, and the house with the taller gable, number 289, has gained height.  Again, coincidentally, these same houses also made an appearance in Woman On The Run.  The boxy apartments now on the corner of Calhoun Terrace were built on the site of the notorious bohemian Hoeffler compound, the revolving-door home to artists and writers in the early 20th century.


Then ...  Inside the house the wife swears up and down that nobody else had seen the gun before she pawned it, but concedes they have a 20 year old unemployed son living with them.  This scene was obviously filmed on a studio soundstage because the view from their window is from a completely different location.  Fortunately CitySleuth recognized it.

... and Now,   that gabled building is the Brocklebank Apartments at 1000 Mason Street on Nob Hill, famously the home of Kim Novak's mysterious Madeleine in the 1958 classic Vertigo.  Based on the direction and angle, this view must have been taken from the roof of the Bently Nob Hill apartments at 1360 Jones Street.  CitySleuth was once on that roof to match another rooftop shot from 1947's The Lady From Shanghai) but he got this close match from 1310 Jones on the same block.

... and Now,   in a reverse view this recent photo of Nob Hill taken from the Hilton Hotel at Portsmouth Square shows 1360 Jones (arrow at right) and the Brocklebank (arrow at left).  Back in 1950 when the movie was filmed 1360 Jones and its highrise neighbor at 1250 Jones - the taller one with the mast - punctuated the skyline as lone sentinels with no other tall buildings around them.


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