Frisco Beat: Reeling in the History


Did a couple of groups by appointment yesterday, got lucky with the brutal winter rains holding off. . . .

On one of them the mysterious CitySleuth came along and tossed in some tidbits of film/Frisco history — one was that the current club venue Ruby Skye in 420 Mason Street used to be a movie theatre, but more so it was the movie theatre where the world premiere of Vertigo was screened, with Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak in attendance.

The guy knows his stuff — one of my fave bits was his post about The Pickwick Stage Terminal of The Maltese Falcon fame.

I happened to meet CitySleuth just recently, at the showing of the Falcon for the Tenderloin Museum on October 27.

Couple of shots from that event featured here. Top image, at left Bill Arney foreground and Mark Murphy, veterans of residencies in 891 Post Street — on right, keeping CitySleuth mysterious with a backshot as he and I are chatting in the lobby.

Bottom shot, more CitySleuth and me (I’m sporting most of my Heisenberg makeup and outfit from Halloween). Probably early next year he’s planning on doing his shot-by-shot history of another movie filmed in San Francisco — one of my longtime favorites — Lon Chaney’s The Penalty from 1920.  You know, the movie I think inspired Hammett to write The Big Knockover.

Since his mission is to showcase the city’s history by documenting what was shot then vs. what exists today, he insists that the movies he covers be at least 40 years old — but jumping back to 1920 is a startling move even for CitySleuth. I’m betting he can bring it off.


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