I first moved to the Bay Area (which is about 20 or so miles away from San Francisco) when I was about 2 or 3 years. After living in a couple of different places, the family moved back into that area back in 1987. It was not a pleasant move to say the least. Anyway, I bring this up because those who know me may think I despise the Bay Area and San Francisco because of what I went through, and I just want to clear things up right now: I DON’T HATE THE BAY AREA, AND I CERTAINLY DON’T HATE SAN FRANCISCO!! Even if I did, this area in California is significant in my development from childhood to being an adult who never gets paid enough.
San Francisco is a great city (albeit a very expensive one) to tour around and even live in. I have taken many an acting class over various summers, and those were some of the best times I had as a kid, even as I worried that I would be over there at the wrong time (in other words, during an earthquake). Many I know who have been deeply affected by the earthquakes (or endlessly fear about the “Big One”) end up to Los Angeles. Of course, this is stupid because the earthquakes down south are just as bad there. The motto of this state should really be unstable but sunny California. Then again, you can take the perspective of longtime San Francisco resident Robin Williams:
“If there ever is an earthquake in San Francisco, it’s just God’s way of saying GET THOSE CONDOMINIUMS OFF MY BACK!”
Some of my favorite movies of the past were filmed in San Francisco, and I would love to see more of them filmed there if at all possible. In fact, some of the movie locations featured in them make me think about maybe moving back there in the future. I don’t care if they have changed significantly years after the movies they were featured in were filmed, you might find me living there at some point.
Steve McQueen’s apartment in Bullitt
I have seen this 1968 movie close to 50 times, and the infamous car chase in it I have watched 3 times as many. Watching this movie every once in awhile (I have it on Blu-Ray now) has me wanting to move to his bachelor pad with that lever in the wall which opens the front door without you having to go all the way down the stairs. That, and going to the nearest Ford dealership to buy a Highland Green Mustang which I can drive over those steep hills at over a 100 miles an hour while playing music by film composer Lalo Schifrin.
For a police detective, Frank Bullitt (one of Steve McQueen’s most famous characters) looks like he has it made. His apartment may not seem like much, but it’s in a nice location and has a great view out the window. Plus, there’s a local market in walking distance which serves some fresh food, and there’s that paper stall you can just punch open so you don’t have to pay 75 cents for the San Francisco Chronicle. I imagine the only thing different about it now is the parking which always sucks whenever I visit this city (that’s why I keep taking Bart). It will probably please my parents if I really took the time to learn how to cook by the time I lived there. That scene where Bullitt is at the local deli and takes stacks and stacks of those microwave dinners is a little unnerving to watch these days.
Sigourney Weaver’s expensive hi-tech apartment in Copycat
Sigourney Weaver of Avatar fame played Dr. Helen Hudson in this 1995 serial killer thriller. After a brutal attach from a vicious psychopath, she becomes an agoraphobic and ends up spending time in an apartment that anyone living in today probably wouldn’t want to go outside of anyway. All the amenities one could ask for can be found in it. You got a great view of the bay right outside the window, there are many rooms to move around in, one of which you could use as a workout center, you are in a perfect position to spend hours at a time on the internet, and the television set will look perfect wherever you put it. Granted, Sigourney’s character had to get out of there at some point, but looking at where she lived, it was hard to blame her for not wanting to go outside. It’s not like she was living in some moldy shack out in the woods.
Sharon Stone’s Pacific Heights mansion in Basic Instinct
The way Jan De Bont shot it in Paul Verhoeven’s controversial thriller, this expensive home of novelist Catherine Trammel looks like it’s in the middle of heaven. That’s kind of ironic when you consider that this is from a movie where a killer brutally murders men with an ice pick. It’s the first place Michael Douglas and his partner go to in their search for novelist Catherine Trammel. It’s a shame we didn’t see her in it more throughout the movie, although her home in Stinson Beach is also really cool. Living in that mansion must make one feel like a king or a queen (the latter term has various meanings in San Francisco).
The Klingon Bird of Prey from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Okay, I’m not being terribly realistic about this one, but let me dream for awhile. Personally, I would be more thrilled about spending some time on the Enterprise, but it never did land in Golden Gate Park like this ship. This would make a nice temporary dwelling, kind of like a hostel that flies. Of course, it would be nice to fly into space also and get a look around the galaxy. Stephen Hawking can moan all he wants, but we are bound to run into aliens at some point. Plus, a sling shot around the sun is very tempting to change things in the past. It seems a little more realistic than a hot tub time machine.
San Francisco Chinatown from Big Trouble In Little China
Being around the set of John Carpenter’s martial arts fantasy flick would have been a gas, and you can bet that there would no shortage of fun. Hanging around with Jack Burton and Egg Shen’s gang and battling the evil sorcerer that is Lo Pan would be anything but boring. While “Big Trouble in Little China” was a box office failure, it has gained a deserved cult following that has made it one of the most gloriously entertaining midnight movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The set design on this movie is great, and it’s a reminder that Chinatown is one of those places in San Francisco that I haven’t visited enough.
The Café Roads Bar from So I Married An Axe Murderer
Seeing Mike Meyers reciting beat poetry at this quaint little bar makes me wonder why I have never bothered to visit it yet. Hanging out in a bar with writers (many of which I am sure are talented) would be very stimulating mentally, and I am bound to get a lot of laughs out of it (many of them intentional I hope). The location this bar was filmed at is the bar Vesuvio which is at Columbus Avenue and Jack Kerouac Alley. I have got to remember that address the next time I go to San Francisco. Normally, I never really venture into the coffeehouse culture, but it helps to make a change every once in awhile.
The Hyatt Regency at Five Embarcadero Center from The Towering Inferno
The hotel used for the interiors of the tower of the title is one I have visited several times, and the atrium inside is always a wonder to view in how it is constructed. Watching those glass elevators go up and down can be a habit, but riding them all the way down from the top is a gas if you have not stops to deal with. I am also confident that the rooms there are every bit as immaculate, so if I can afford to stay there, you sure as hell bet that I will. If it catches on fire though, I will be running out of there as fast as humanly possible. Come to think of it, that will be great training for my upcoming half marathon!
The Hillard household from Mrs. Doubtfire
It’s a great home for a family, and it’s located in a beautiful part of the city. If I ever were to raise a family (and I’m in no hurry to), this would be the kind of ideal place for me. I’m not sure I would turn it into the petting zoo that Robin Williams’ character did in the movie. Were that to happen to me, I could only pray that I have the insurance to cover it. But even before that, I’d have to be able to afford the down payment. Heck, I’d probably be spending the rest of my life paying the damn thing off. Still, it’s a great place in a great city!
That spa place from A View To A Kill
When James Bond (then played by Roger Moore, and for the last time) ends up seducing the Russian spy Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton, YEOW!), he takes her to this spa place in San Francisco’s Chinatown. A perfect make out place for any couple, even spies from opposing sides (eat your heart our Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). It can’t get more relaxingly sexy than have your own room with a spa in it, and it’ll definitely come in handy when your muscles are intolerably sore.
The Fairmount Hotel from The Rock
The only Michael Bay movie I can honestly say I love watching over and over. In the scene where Sean Connery gets groomed and has a shower at this historic hotel, luxury has rarely looked this comfortable before turning quickly lethal. This is most certainly the best place I can think of take any of my former managers who really pissed me off in my lifetime. Tying their hand to mine with a little piece of rope while dangling over the balcony of my penthouse suite would be most satisfying… Then again, that may be more about me than you need to know.
Just remember what the man once said, and which was repeated in another movie filmed in this city, “48 Hours”:
“The coldest winter I ever spent was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”
That’s the truth regardless if you are wearing any flowers in your hair or not.
Thanks for reading.