The television show ‘Harbor Command’, starring Wendell Cory as Captain Ralph Baxter, ran from the fall of 1957 until the summer of 1958. Most of the episodes were filmed around the Embarcadero, but in the episode ‘Lovers’ Lane Bandits’ the Harbor Command takes a trip to the Richmond District. A teenage girl, who attends George Washington High School in the Richmond District, sneaks out of the house after she’s been grounded to meet her boyfriend at a “lovers’ lane’ near the Pesidio. She witnesses a murder there, and, unfortunately for her, one of the killers has seen her, although she doesn’t know that. Captain Baxter learns about the girl through detective work and is desperately trying to find her before the killers do.
Baxter goes to the old Playland-at-the-Beach amusement park to talk to her father who works there. Baxter and his partner park at the Cabrillo streetcar turnaround near the Funhouse. The bottom picture is where they entered Playland from the Great Highway today.
Baxter questions a fellow who works at the Funhouse to find out where the girl’s father is. This scene has an extremely rare shot of Laffing Sal in action at the Playland Funhouse. Behind them is the Playland Merry-go-round. The merry-go-round is still in operation today at the Yerba Buena Center.
This is about the spot where the Funhouse once was.
Baxter learns from her father that she’s meeting a friend at a drug store at Balboa Street and 42nd Avenue. Here, the two girls leave the drugstore heading west toward the beach. This is the northeast corner where the girls were walking today. I couldn’t get the same line up on the corner because of parked cars.
The killers stalk behind them in a truck.
When we next see the two girls they’re at the corner of Balboa and 37th, five blocks east in the opposite direction from where they were heading the last time we saw them. The girl with the light hair has a real problem; she’s witnessed a murder and she knows she should tell someone, but her dad had grounded her and when he finds out she sneaked out she’s sure he’ll just kill her! Hey, honey, turn around! Your dad probably won’t kill you, but the two guys in the truck behind you will!
When her friend goes into the market on the corner one of the killers grabs her. Oh, oh, this doesn’t look good! Somebody had better learn to obey her dad in the future.
Her friend comes out of the store to find that she’s disappeared. This was at the northwest corner of Balboa Street and 37th Avenue.
But this teenager has a guardian angel, Ralph Baxter, approaching the corner where she was taken north from 37th Avenue.
Her worried friend tells Baxter the direction they went.
The bad guys turn north off Balboa onto 40th Avenue.
Harbor Command misses the turn at 40th and in a action reminiscent to the chase scene in ‘Bullitt’ burn up rubber backing up to 40th Avenue.
They head up 40th to Geary Blvd.
On Point Lobos Road the Harbor Command police cut the truck off right about here, just down from the Cliff House.
As Baxter and his partner approach the truck, they threaten to shoot the girl if the officers don’t back away.
When the teenager faints, (well, I probably would have too) Baxter gets a clear line of fire and shoots the man with the gun. That’s Sutro Heights behind him. He pulls the driver out of the truck, and case closed. The two videos below are the Funhouse scene from the show, and Laffing Sal today in Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf. They say it’s the same one; judge for yourself.