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Why are so many noir films set in San Francisco? Lots of wonderful landmarks/bridges. Favorite noir movie is Dark Passage.

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Why are so many noir films set in San Francisco? Lots of wonderful landmarks/bridges. Favorite noir movie is Dark Passage.

 

Another reason noirs are set in SF are the hills.    Hills provide for great long distance shots.   e.g. there can be a close up of someone walking up a hill and than the camera can pan back and expand the shot until one can see the ocean and landmarks like the bridge.

 

Also walking up a hill creates an effect of challenge and requires effort.    This adds to the desperation aspect a director can get from a character.   This is used to great effect in Dark Passage after Bogie has to walk from his dead friend's house to Bacall's house.   The shots of him walking up those hills adds to the stress of his situation and really allows the viewer to feel what he is feeling.   

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I agree with James' comment. The locations help. And a lot of neo-noir seems to be set in Frisco too.

 

Check out films like THE PRESIDIO (with Sean Connery); PACIFIC HEIGHTS (with Matthew Modine) or BASIC INSTINCT (with Michael Douglas).

 

Also, if you are a classic TV fan, look at 70's style crime in The Streets of San Francisco (with a younger Michael Douglas). It was filmed on location.

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Why are so many noir films set in San Francisco? Lots of wonderful landmarks/bridges. Favorite noir movie is Dark Passage.

Because the atmosphere is already built in. It's an extremely photogenic city,and one that lends itself to noir. It's really a film makers wet dream,as you just move your camera around in any direction and have a great shot.

Everthing is right there,and in close proximity...no need for a backlot. Even the alleys have all the props,of low key lighting,cardboard boxes,trash dumpsters,with brick buildings,a fire escape ladder...and a dame built in. Take the alley in Vertigo,where Scotty follows her to the flower shop. It's still the same today,albeit the door has been walled over,but nothing has changed. Plus...steaming manhole covers! The sound of the fog horn at night,the dirt and grime,the cable cars,the shady dive bars,the card rooms,nightclubs,the working girls,the coppers shaking down people,....it's all really going on.

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Because the atmosphere is already built in. It's an extremely photogenic city,and one that lends itself to noir. It's really a film makers wet dream,as you just move your camera around in any direction and have a great shot.

Everthing is right there,and in close proximity...no need for a backlot. Even the alleys have all the props,of low key lighting,cardboard boxes,trash dumpsters,with brick buildings,a fire escape ladder...and a dame built in. Take the alley in Vertigo,where Scotty follows her to the flower shop. It's still the same today,albeit the door has been walled over,but nothing has changed. Plus...steaming manhole covers! The sound of the fog horn at night,the dirt and grime,the cable cars,the shady dive bars,the card rooms,nightclubs,the working girls,the coppers shaking down people,....it's all really going on.

Yes, Chris. San Francisco has great ambience. It also has a rich history (gold, earthquakes, Chinatown) and a whole mythology that comes with it. 

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Have you gotten a chance to watch Woman on the Run yet?  Really good location work.  The last 10 to 15 minutes are a stand out, as they take place on a boardwalk.  The whole sequence has an eerie Carnival of Souls feeling to it.  

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Have you gotten a chance to watch Woman on the Run yet?  Really good location work.  The last 10 to 15 minutes are a stand out, as they take place on a boardwalk.  The whole sequence has an eerie Carnival of Souls feeling to it.  

But, as Eddie explained in his closing remarks, the climactic finale of WOMAN ON THE RUN was not filmed in San Francisco. Instead, it was shot in Santa Monica. 

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Have you gotten a chance to watch Woman on the Run yet?  Really good location work.  The last 10 to 15 minutes are a stand out, as they take place on a boardwalk.  The whole sequence has an eerie Carnival of Souls feeling to it.  

 

Actually, those last 15 minutes were filmed in Santa Monica.

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Not only does San Francisco provide a great ambience but the Bay Area as a whole. There are lots of shots of Marin County especially along windy Highway 1. There's Muir Woods to provide a forest setting, though San Francisco has this, too. 

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Actually, those last 15 minutes were filmed in Santa Monica.

Right, that's what I said. But the exteriors for the rest of the picture are San Francisco.

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Right, that's what I said. But the exteriors for the rest of the picture are San Francisco.

 

My apologies. I didn't see your quote before replying. However, there is also another scene that is NOT San Francisco. The first scene at the staircase (murder scene) is actually Los Angeles (Bunker Hill, I believe). Woman on the Run was screened at this past Noir City and there was a before/after presentation of each location and as it looks today. I was surprised that it was L.A. I thought it was Forest Hill.

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My apologies. I didn't see your quote before replying. However, there is also another scene that is NOT San Francisco. The first scene at the staircase (murder scene) is actually Los Angeles (Bunker Hill, I believe). Woman on the Run was screened at this past Noir City and there was a before/after presentation of each location and as it looks today. I was surprised that it was L.A. I thought it was Forest Hill.

No problem. That's quite interesting. Since the scene was shot at night, it's not easy to tell it's Bunker Hill.

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I enjoyed the first week of TCM's Noir festival, and the San Francisco Noir with one of my favorites "Dark Passage".  Besides the scenes of San Francisco, I enjoyed seeing so many character actors again.  Elijiah Cook Jr., in all but a couple of them.  One of the perks of the studio days and Warner's as the home of "noir"

Clifton Young, Rory Mallinson, Bruce Bennett all in both "Nora Prentiss" and "Dark Passage".

 

Some never get enough screen time like Peter Lorre in "Stranger on the Third Floor" or Walter Slezak in "Born to Kill".

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I enjoyed the first week of TCM's Noir festival, and the San Francisco Noir with one of my favorites "Dark Passage".  Besides the scenes of San Francisco, I enjoyed seeing so many character actors again.  Elijiah Cook Jr., in all but a couple of them.  One of the perks of the studio days and Warner's as the home of "noir"

Clifton Young, Rory Mallinson, Bruce Bennett all in both "Nora Prentiss" and "Dark Passage".

 

Some never get enough screen time like Peter Lorre in "Stranger on the Third Floor" or Walter Slezak in "Born to Kill".

Interesting post. Although Slezak's time on screen is limited, I think he manages to make the most of it in BORN TO KILL. Plus he gets the last shot/last moment. 

 

I rewatched NORA PRENTISS today and it just gets better and better with every viewing. I also think Rosemary DeCamp does a great, unheralded job as the cast-off wife.

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Have you gotten a chance to watch Woman on the Run yet?  Really good location work.  The last 10 to 15 minutes are a stand out, as they take place on a boardwalk.  The whole sequence has an eerie Carnival of Souls feeling to it.  

I saw it for the first time Friday night. It's definitely a noir gem!

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The Raging Tide (1951) with Richard Conte and Shelly Winters, has some nice San Francisco locations also.

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