This is another collection of then and nows covering the television series ‘The Streets of San Francisco’ that ran from 1972 to 1977. These are episodes from the premier season of 1972. The first pictures are a brief setup with some relatively placid location scenes from a few episodes, and the last collection covers ‘In the Midst of Strangers’, which, I think, is one of the best episodes of the series. Cable cars will show up a few times in this post. There’s some confusion about the actual date, but on either today or tomorrow, Andrew Hallidie ran the first cable car up Clay Street 145 years ago.
Michael Douglas played Inspector Steve Keller. In ‘The first Day of Forever’ he is assigned to be a bodyguard to a call girl played by Janice Rule who has been targeted for murder by one of her “clients”. Keller is cold and distant toward her at first, but eventually develops affection for her. Here they pass the Fisherman’s Wharf Boat Lagoon with Alioto’s and #9 Fishermen’s Grotto Restaurants behind them.
Karl Malden played Lieutenant Michael Stone. Here he is at Aquatic Park where the Hyde street cable cars turn around in ’45 Minutes from Home’. Hey, that is the cable car you’re looking at, Lieutenant, right? My kind of cop! The corner here has been reconfigured a bit where the cable cars arrive and depart.
In the same episode, Stone meets up with Keller and they talk shop awhile as they walk down Beach Street.
“Don’t look now, but I think there’s a hippie behind us!”
“Cover me while I flash him the peace sign!”
They get into their unmarked patrol car and turn onto Larkin Street pursuing a hot tip; probably another restaurant that serves good chili dogs, they track down a lot of these in the series. They pass by Ghirardelli Square on the right.
At the end of ‘45 Minutes from Home’ they park on Grant Avenue and walk into Chinatown. I wonder if they still make Olympia Beer! That’s a historic and forgotten building on the left behind them. During World War Two it was the main telephone exchange center and was considered so important sand bags were stacked at the entrance to protect it from Japanese bombs that were expected to be dropped on San Francisco after the Pearl Harbor attack.
Here is a vintage picture of the building during World War Two. (SF Chronicle)
“That was the end of a good case, buddy boy! This coke and burger in exotic Chinatown are on me.”
Their investigations often led them to ordinary locations that are hard to track down. In this scene from ‘Timelock’ they cross a street and enter into a building with addresses on the entrance of an unnamed street looking for a suspect. I was afraid that I was going to have to do some homework to locate this spot, but Lt. Stone made the job easy with his check-in call. “We’re at 2207 Taylor Street.” Thanks, Lieutenant!”
The rest of this collection is devoted to ‘In the Midst of Strangers’. As I mentioned at the opening, I think it is one of the best hours the show has to offer. Most of the episode takes place in and around Union Square, albeit a Union Square of a long time ago. The episode shows a vibrant but small location in a big city and creates an atmosphere that probably wasn’t even the way it was in 1972, but should have been. It opens up with a northwestern view of Union Square from the roof of the City of Paris Department Store. This was the way Union Square looked from World War Two until it was remodeled in 2002. My picture was taken from the Cheesecake Factory on top of Macy’s, the closest I could get to a comparison. The plot involves three bad guys staying in a suite at the St. Francis Hotel overlooking the park who systematically rob people passing by or through Union Square after studying their movements by telescope or eavesdropping on them while lingering in the park, to find the ones ripe for the picking. This was two years before Gene Hackman made that kind of activity famous here in the 1974 film ‘The Conversation’.
David Wayne plays an elderly and popular newspaper salesman who’s friendly with just about everybody who comes to Union Square. His station is here on the northwest side of the square back when one of the entrances to the underground parking garage was still there. Later in the episode Wayne will be robbed by the thugs of three thousand dollars of his savings.
In one “feel good” scene, a cable car passing by the St. Francis Hotel on Powell Street waits while Wayne sells newspapers to friendly riders on the car. People were just trying to get on a cable car in my picture at the spot, and nobody would have been interested in buying a paper.
Look at some of the stores on Post Street in 1972, like Gumps, Bonds Suits, and Florsheim Shoes.
From a robbery to a kill: The crooks spot a victim going into a jewelry store on Post Street and one of the gang played by Robert Foxworth follows him across the intersection of Post and Stockton Streets into the northeast entrance of Union square.
After buying a newspaper from David Wayne the victim boards a cable car on Powell Street at the front end while Foxworth climbs on the back. Now watch the number 525 cable car as it climbs Nob Hill.
After passing Sutter Street the cable car changes to number 510. Of course, the one in my picture changed from number 12 to number 7, but I’m not going to pretend it’s the same cable car.
By the time the victim’s cable car reaches the crest of Nob Hill it’s been demoted to number 509 and the man behind the victim has changed his clothes!
The victim should have stayed on the magic cable car. When he gets off at California Street he’s hustled into the yellow LTD approaching on the left by Foxworth and driven by his two accomplices. They drive down California Street and turn into Joice Alley. When the man being robbed resists he’s killed by Foxworth. He didn’t even get to read the paper Wayne sold him.
After Wayne is robbed Stone and Keller peruse Union Square looking for clues. Behind them are Maiden Lane and the City of Paris Department Store. The City of Paris was demolished in 1979.
Wayne spots one of the men who robbed him and follows him to the room where the rest of the gang is staying. After nearly getting caught and losing his life he contacts Stone and Keller, but the crooks have left before they can get there. The chase is on.
After a race through San Francisco the bad guys turn down this street in the Presidio.
The road leads to Fort Point, built just before the Civil War.
They should have taken a lesson from Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt who tried to hide from the police here in the 1950 crime movie ‘The Man Who Cheated Himself’. There’s no way out from here. (Film image from Rotten Tomatoes)
The crooks drive into the fort through the main entrance followed by Keller and Stone. The suspects exit their car and begin shooting at the two officers.
Jane Wyatt and Lee J. Cobb drove into Fort Point here as well. (Film image from backstageweplayers.org)
As the villains head up to the roof of the fort, “someone’s sneakin’ ‘round the corrrrrner”.
A well placed shot takes care of one heading up. They have some kind of ramp on the ground below this spot so I couldn’t get an exact lineup.
One down and two to go: Stone and Keller follow the rest up to the top.
Foxworth makes a dash along the roof of the fort. This scene appears to have been filmed late in the afternoon.
Lt. Stone is not about to let Foxworth get away. He sets himself and takes aim.
Stone, having to make a tracking shot with the sun in his eyes, fires and down goes Foxworth near the old lighthouse. Two down and one to go. I could have got him myself if my finger was loaded.
Jane Wyatt and Lee J. Cobb didn’t have any better luck escaping from police when they tried to hide up in the lighthouse in ‘The Man Who Cheated Himself’. (Film image from the Movie Gourmet)
The third suspect wisely decides to give himself up.
And so Lieutenant Stone and Inspector Keller tidy up another case and head for the nearest chili dog.