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    The most beautiful cinematic locations in San Francisco

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    Joel Fulleda

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    The extraordinary beauty of the photogenic and hilly city of San Francisco, could not fail to be celebrated by some of the most famous Hollywood film productions. Many of the films shot in the beautiful Californian pearl also have in common a matrix inspired by freedom, redemption and emancipation, because San Francisco has always been the conventional capital of counterculture, hippies and the LGBT community. From the ferment moved by its citizens, a living city was born, always in transformation, never banal.


    • Le location del Golden Gate Bridge
    • The locations of the Palace of Fine Arts and surroundings
    • The locations of Alcatraz
    • The scenes shot on the Cable Cars
    • Location di Lombard Street
    • The locations of Chinatown
    • The locations of Telegraph Hill and Financial District
    • The locations of the Painted Ladies and surroundings
    • The locations of Castro

    Le location del Golden Gate Bridge

    The symbol of the city is undoubtedly the (1) Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge over the bay of the same name and about three kilometers long, which offers a solution of continuity to the traffic that ideally moves from southern to northern California, and vice versa.

    Obviously, given its relevance, grandeur and aesthetics, it has been symbolically portrayed in numerous films shot in this area. In one of the first epic scenes of the cinema, in the 1955 science fiction film "The monster of the seas", the giant octopus protagonist emerges from the San Francisco bay crushing and destroying the Golden Gate bridge. The bridge also appears in many other science fiction films, such as "Superman"(1978),"Star Trek: Heading for Earth"(1986),"Hulk"(2003),"X-Men - Final Conflict"(2006),"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" (2011), Bumblebee (2018) and many others.

    Among the less fantastic films and more focused on contemporary reality, we can mention the films "The Circle"(2017) and"Summer on"(2016).

    In the first feature film, the bridge often appears, because the new employee of the prosperous company "The Circle", Mae Holland (Emma Watson), rowing with her kayak in the bay passing near the bridge itself. In Gabriele Muccino's film, the boys who are the protagonists of the film spend their summer vacation in the city and, among the places visited by Italian tourists, obviously the famous Golden Gate also appears.

    In any season, a thick fog often envelops the entire bay and, in those conditions, it is very fascinating to watch the particular international orange color of the steel structure emerge from the velvety and dense haze.

    Unfortunately, this surreal and melancholy climate, together with the effectiveness of throwing oneself into the water below at 120 km / h, has contributed to an increase in the number of suicide cases, far above the national average. The documentary "The Bridge - The bridge of suicides"(2006), presented at the TRIBECA film festival, is the result of video footage, at times bloody for their reality, which testify how the protective barriers of the bridge are anything but adequate to discourage and avert multiple attempts .

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    The locations of the Palace of Fine Arts and surroundings

    Il (2) Palace of Fine Arts, is another important symbol of the Californian city to which citizens are very attached. Italo Calvino, in the essay "An optimist in America"Written in the 60s, describes the Palace of Fine Arts as:

    a gigantic surrealist scenario, but more for the cultural anguish of Jorge Borges than for the dreamlike one of Salvdor Dalì. Because it is also an image of those that suddenly give back the whole sense of an era: here there is a dizzying sign of culture as it must have appeared at the beginning of the century to the new millionaires of the Pacific coast. I no longer remember who said that America goes directly from barbarism to decadence.

    This imposing building, located in the Marina District and which now hosts art exhibitions, appears with its neoclassical external structure in the film "The Rock”(1996), in the sequence in which the hero of the action film, former British spy John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), meets his unknown daughter (Claire Forlani).

    South of the Marina district is the upscale Cow Hollow neighborhood, whose main thoroughfare, Union Street, is lined with upscale bistros, boutiques, health food shops and gyms. On this hill there are two luxurious houses that have appeared in the films: "Basic Instict"And"Mrs. Doubtfire". The femme fatale, Catherine Tramell, the female protagonist of the legendary thriller starring Sharon Stone, lives in the immense (3) neoclassical villa at 2930 Vallejo Street.

    La (4) house of Miranda Hillard (Sally Field), where housekeeper Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire (Robin Williams) goes to do housework and education on a daily basis, is located at 2640 Steiner Street. The sad and untimely death of the brilliant, unruly and beloved actor has prompted fans from all over the world to leave their own neat and contained message of affection on the stones that adorn the flowerbed in front of the entrance.

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    The locations of Alcatraz

    The former prison of the island of (5) Alcatraz, it was the penitentiary that more than any other in the world inspired prison stories, which were then also filmed on the big screen. Among the many films in which Alcatraz has played a starring role we can remember: "Alcatraz: the island of injustice"(1995), in which brutal and disconcerting facts that really happened inside the prisons are narrated,"The Rock"(1996), in which the island is taken hostage by terrorists and"Escape from Alcatraz”(1979), which recounts the escape of three inmates including the protagonist Frank Morris, played by the timeless Clint Eastwood.

    In the 1979 film, the director of the prison exposes the strict rules of the penitentiary to the protagonist:

    If you disobey the rules of society they send you to jail, if you disobey the rules of the prison ... they send you to us. Alcatraz is a different prison than any other in the United States. Here each prisoner must remain in solitary confinement, in an individual cell.

    The scenes shot on the Cable Cars

    Public transportation in San Francisco is decidedly European in style. Not only do citizens move along the tramways, as in many of the cities of the old continent, but some of the same vehicles in circulation have been directly purchased or donated by municipalities overseas: it is therefore easy to get on board an original "Ventotto" , Spanish racing car of early twentieth century technology and the pride of every self-respecting Milanese.

    Then there is the (6) Cable Car, a native symbol instead, used daily by San Francisco citizens and tourists to tackle the steep ups and downs. This particular tram climbs the hills behind the Fisherman's Wharf district, along Hyde Street and Taylor Street, then connecting to the famous Union Square.

    In Woody Allen's comedy "Try it again Sam”(1972), the protagonists, Sam Felix, played by the same screenwriter, and Linda Christie (Diane Keaton), get on the Cable Car near the intersection of Hyde Street and Bay Street. A little further along the slope, the legendary Herbie beetle, "A completely crazy Beetle”(1968), who has escaped from the car dealership garage to follow race car driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), queues behind the tram, following the man home.

    Location di Lombard Street

    (7) Lombard Street, is a very famous street in the city because of its serpentine that crosses the Russian hill, between Hyde Street and Leavenworth Street. In the same 1979 Dysney film, Herbie, the Beetle, goes down that stretch of road at high speed, despite the speed limit being only 5 miles per hour. The winding roadway, made up of eight steep hairpin bends, winds on a red brick paving and, the lush flower beds that are created between one curve and the next, are perennially decorated with hedges, plants and very colorful flowers. In the lower part of the hill, at 1000 Lombard Street, you can enjoy the best view of the winding slope.

    Woody Allen, also with the 2013 film "Blue Jasmine”, He betrays his beloved hometown of New York with San Francisco for the second time. Cate Blanchett, for the proof shown in this comedy, wins the prestigious Oscar statuette for best leading actress. In one of the sequences shot in the streets of the city, the protagonist, Jeanette 'Jasmine' Francis, takes a (8) Selfie along scenic Taylor Street on the corner of Green Street, given the spectacular view on Alcatraz Island.

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    The locations of Chinatown

    San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest Chinese neighborhood within a US metropolitan area. The conventional front door, the (9) Dragon’s Gate, is immortalized in the cult movie of 1986 "Big trouble in Chinatown”, When Mr. Egg Shen's (Victor Wong) small tour bus passes under the emerald arch and wedges itself into the heart of the neighborhood.

    Today, tourists can actually get on the yellow bus that says "Egg Foo Yong Tours”And review some of the glimpses that appeared in the film. John Carpenter's crime fantasy comes to life in the maze of small streets where, (10) at the corner of Commercial Street & Grant Avenue, the truck of the protagonist Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) appears for the first time. Turning the corner, the two heavy vehicles risk a head-on collision along Grant Avenue and, "it will be necessary a timing to the tenth of a second", to avoid the fatal impact. It is in the grip (11) Ross Alley, which Jack Burton enters with the large articulated lorry after a spectacular and complicated maneuver that takes place at the Shuang Li Trading Co. store, at 749 Jackson Street.

    In the historic, renowned and very popular Chinese take-away rotisserie (12) New Moon, at 1247 Stockton Street, the wealthy businessman Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) also makes a brief visit in the film “The Game - No rules"(1997), in action to reconstruct the puzzle of his life, derailed since the dangerous" game "began. It is his younger brother, Conrad Van Orton (Sean Penn) to frame him in that nightmare, because, as he himself reveals to Nicholas: "I had to do something, you were getting too asshole.".

    In the excellent and fascinating local (13) Roast coffee, at number 242 of Columbus Avenue, we find again Micheal Douglas, this time in the role of the famous detective Nick Curran, protagonist of “Basic Instinct” (1992).

    In this Italian-inspired place, after a couple of Jack Daniel's with ice, discussing the case with colleagues in the district and responding to the provocation of some disciplinary men, Nick leaves the bar in the company of his lover and police psychologist Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn). The Tosca Cafè is highly recommendable for the atmosphere, the attendance and the drinks; however, given the proposal of deeply transformed Italian dishes in full Yankee style, it would be equally advisable to avoid the restaurant for meals ...

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    The locations of Telegraph Hill and Financial District

    The hilly neighborhood of Telegraph Hill is mainly a residential area, much quieter than the neighboring North Beach, characterized by the presence of lively clubs and lively nightlife. In fact, among these streets, you can find three famous apartments that appeared in some famous film sequences.

    In the aforementioned "Try it again Sam" (1972), (14) Sam Felix 'apartment (Woody Allen), is located at 15 Fresno Street. The entrance today looks very different from then; in fact, a black gate was placed in front of the two adjacent entrance doors of the building, which were also repainted in a bright red color. Mrs. Doubtfire, alias Daniel Hillard, after being thrown out of her house for childish and irresponsible conduct, takes home at (15) 516 Green Street, in the Victorian-style building above what is now the pizzeria / trattoria Baonecci Restaurant.

    Finally, (16) Nick Curran 's home (Michael Douglas), controversial hero of "Basic Instinct”(1992), is located at 1158 Montgomery Street. In this apartment, the detective spends a few passionate hours in the company of the woman at the center of the investigation, even though she, as she herself confides: “I can't afford to feel something for you. I cannot afford to love. ”.

    Always the same protagonist of the detective thriller, you can find him on the (17) Pier 7, in a long and dramatic sequence in which he argues animatedly with his friend and colleague Detective Gus Moran (George Dzundza), who tries to warn him of the diabolical Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone). From this pier on the water, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the (18) Bay Bridge, another remarkable piece of engineering that connects San Francisco to the city of Oakland.

    Neither "The bachelor"(1967), a legendary film directed by Mike Nichols and based on the novel of the same name by Charles Webb, the young protagonist Benjamin" Ben "Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), whizzes aboard his equally legendary red Alfa Romeo Duetto in search of his sweetheart Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross). The car ride is made even more emblematic by the notes of the famous song by Simon & Garfunkel: “Mrs. Robinson ”, soundtrack of the film of the same name.

    The building of the (19) Pacific Stock Exchange, modern in style with a generous colonnade on the main facade, is located on Pine Street at the intersection with Sansome Street, in the heart of San Francisco's Financial District. Right in front of this majestic building, the stubborn, humble and intelligent Chris Gardner (Will Smith), "La ricerca della felicità”(2006), he finds himself admiring a splendid Ferrari parked at the entrance, one day dreaming of owning one and transforming his life and that of his little child (Jaden Smith) into something unique and wonderful. Observing in dismay the brokers who enter and leave the building, Chris reflects: "I still remember that moment, they seemed so ... I don't know, all so happy, why couldn't I be too?".

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    The locations of the Painted Ladies and surroundings

    Not far from City Hall, between Steiner Street and Hayes Street, is the row of terraced houses nicknamed (20) The Painted Ladies, due to the multicolored colors with which they are painted. These Victorian and Edwardian style homes, located on the edge of Alamo Square Park, have appeared in numerous films and television series: from the comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, “Junior” (1994), all series “Dad's friends"(1987-1995) and the sequel,"Mom's friends”(2016-2020), produced by Netflix with the involvement of many of the actors of the original cast.

    With the (21) San Francisco City Hall, in front of a crowd of supporters, the councilor candidate Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), protagonist of the homonymous "Milk”(2008), pronounces the famous phrase and his original trademark:“ My name is Harvey Milk and I'm here to recruit you all! ”.

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    The locations of Castro

    The charismatic and fragile protagonist of the film directed by Gus Van Sant, chose in 1972 to move to the Castro district together with his partner Scott Smith (James Franco) whom he met a few months earlier in New York. The two decide to rent a space at 575 Castro Street, and turn it into a camera shop.

    During the 70s, the (22) Castro Camera, became the hub of the neighborhood's growing gay community, as well as the campaign headquarters of neo-politician Harvey Milk. Today the space is occupied by the Human Rights Campaign, a company that today as then protects civil rights, because, as the inspirer himself states: "If you do not mobilize to defend the rights of someone who is deprived of them at that moment, when they will attack yours, no one will move for you. And you will find yourself alone. ".

    Across the street stands the (23) Swirl On Castro, a wine and spirits shop that appears, albeit with a different name (McConnelly Wine & Liquors), also in the film. the shop owner, initially hostile towards the gay community, realizes how business grows during the unification of the neighborhood by the self-styled "Mayor of Castro Street".

    Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), initially disinterested in the cause, over time becomes a fundamental pawn in the recruitment campaign of its leader. The bar he sneaks into to take people to the street is the (24) Twin Peaks Tavern, at 401 Castro Street. The restaurant, still on the crest of the wave in the rainbow district, defines itself as "Gateway to Castro ... a legend in his time ... and the best view of Castro, any day, any time.".

    The film garnered eight 2009 Academy Award nominations, winning two; one for Best Actor in a Leading Role to Sean Penn and one for Best Original Screenplay to Dustin Lance Black.

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