Sunday, November 6, 2011

Impact (1949) - Film Locations

Impact (1949)

I'm going beyond the borders of Los Angeles again, this time exploring the Northern California filming locations for the 1949 film, Impact. This is the second time I've tracked down locations in the Northern half of the state. A few weeks back I did a post on The Lawless (1950) which was filmed in the small towns of Grass Valley and Marysville. That got me thinking about possibly changing the tag line on my blog to something that would include exploring the world of "Hollywood" beyond just the borders of Tinseltown. My focus will remain on Hollywood and Los Angeles, but look for an occasional post outside LA city limits.

Impact stars Brian Donlevy as cuckold Walter Williams, a wealthy San Francisco businessman who's wife Irene (Helen Walker) is plotting to have him killed. When Williams needs to go on a business trip his wife asks if he could pick up her cousin "Jim" on his way and drive her cousin back to his home. Jim is really Irene's lover and intends to kill Williams along the way, but things don't go according to plan. While pulled over on the side of the road to fix a flat tire, Jim hits Williams over the head and rolls his body down a cliff. Jim drives off but he ends up in a flaming car crash and dies. Meanwhile, Williams awakens and lifts a ride into town where he learns that he was set-up. 

Williams stays on in Larkspur, "Idaho" the small town where he was dropped off and gets a job as a mechanic working for Marsha Peters (Ella Raines), a widow who's husband died in the war.  The two develop a relationship and Williams ends up staying in Larkspur longer than he intended - that is until he reveals his past and Peters convinces him to go back to San Francisco to set things straight. When Williams arrives back in San Francisco everyone is shocked to see that he is still alive. The police arrest Williams under suspicion of murder. Peters, with the help of detective Quincy (Charles Coburn) and the Williams's maid (Anna Mae Wong) fight to prove his innocence. 

Donlevy is excellent in the lead role and so is the supporting cast of Walker, Raines, Coburn and Wong. The story is a bit convoluted but this part noir, part crime thriller is an interesting watch.

Filming took place in three different California cities: San Francisco, Sausalito, and Larkspur.

San Francisco Locations

The Williams's apartment building is the Brocklebank Apartments located at 1000, Mason Street in San Francisco. The intersection is Mason Street at Sacramento Street. Below is the view looking out the window of the Brocklebank building as seen in the film and a contemporary street view of the same location.

The view looking out of the Brocklebank Apartments.

Looking away from the Brocklebank Apartments.
Mason Street at Sacramento Street.

Irene leaving the Brocklebank Apartments

The Brocklebank Apartments in San Francisco.

In the scene where we see Irene leaving the Brocklebank Apartments she continues to walk down Mason Street, passing the historic Fairmont hotel and ending at the intersection of Mason and California. 

Irene in front of The Fairmont hotel.

The corner of The Fairmont hotel. Mason at California Streets.

Looking down California Street from Mason Street.

Looking down California Street from Mason Street.

It's amazing how much the skyline has changed since 1949. One used to have a clear view of the bridge. Now only part of the bridge is visible between the tall high-rise buildings that have gone up. The same is true in the next view below looking down Sacramento Street from Mason Street.

Looking down Sacrament St. from Mason St.

Looking down Sacramento St. from Mason St.

Another San Francisco location is the old Hall of Justice building located at 750 Kearny Street. The building has since been razed and replaced by a Hilton hotel.

Former San Francisco Hall of Justice, 750 Kearny Street.

750 Kearny Street, now a Hilton Hotel.

The next two comparisons are views of Kearny Street as seen from Washington Street.

814 Kearny Street in background as seen in Impact.

Looking at a contemporary view of 814 Kearny Street.

The corner of Washington Street and Kearny Street.

The corner of Washington Street and Kearny Street.

Sausalito Locations

The next three locations are located in Sausalito, California. It's at this location where Donlevy's character thinks he is picking up his wife's cousin Jim. We get a view of the historic Hotel Sausalito located at 16 El Portal Street and some of the neighboring buildings.

Looking down Bridgeway at El Portal Street.
The Hotel Sausalito can be seen on the left.

Looking down Bridgeway. Hotel Sausalito on the left.

Looking down El Portal at the Hotel Sausalito. 

Looking down El Portal St. at the Hotel Sausalito.

Looking up El Portal St. towards Bridgeway.

Looking up El Portal St. towards Bridgeway.

Larkspur Locations

The next set of locations are all in Larkspur, California, although in the film the story is supposed to be set in Larkspur "Idaho." The first two comparisons are views of the center of town from the intersection of Magnolia Avenue at East Ward Street.

Williams arrives in Larkspur - walking down
Magnolia Ave from E. Ward Street.

Looking down Magnolia Ave at E. Ward Street.

Williams (Donlevy) stands on E. Ward Street near Magnolia Ave.

Looking down E. Ward Street.

Williams stays at the home of Marsha Peters located at 234 Magnolia Avenue. I actually found this address from a printable historic self-guided walking tour provided by the City of Larkspur. You can view the walking tour which highlights other significant buildings in the town by clicking here.

Raines & Donlevy at the home at 234 Magnolia Ave.

The home as it appears today at 234 Magnolia Ave.

When Williams arrives in Larkspur he gets a job as a mechanic at a shop owned by Peters. I couldn't find the Mobil service station, but just a few blocks down from the Peters home on Magnolia Ave I saw the building below, a hair salon that looks like it could be the same building as the Mobile service station, only remodeled.  Look at the white columns and the basic structure of the building and you can see how it matches up. The building is located at 238 Magnolia Ave.

Donlevy as a mechanic at the service station. 
238 Magnolia Avenue

The service station building remodeled. Now a hair salon.

The last few comparisons take place near the Larkspur City Hall building and the Larkspur Fire Department.

Looking up at Larkspur City Hall, 400 Magnolia Ave.

Looking at Larkspur City Hall on Magnolia Ave.

The Larkspur Fire Dept. next to City Hall.

The Larkspur Fire Department next to City Hall.

Looking down Magnolia Ave from King Street.

Looking down Magnolia Ave from King Street.

A fire truck leaves the Fire Dept. and heads down Magnolia
towards the center of town.

Looking down Magnolia towards the center of town
from the Fire Department.

Impact (1949) is available on DVD and is also currently available as a Netflix Watch Instantly title.

All Street View images (c) Google 2011.


Laura said...

Robby, this is absolutely fantastic. I really enjoyed this movie and found the location shooting one of the most enjoyable aspects. Thanks for providing so much information here!

Best wishes,

FlickChick said...

Thank you so much for this most interesting post!

Jan Ethington said...

I was channel surfing last night and found this movie and today if found this site. How strange is that? Thanks for creating such a cool web site. How do you get the current pictures? Thanks. Pugo

PS... I hope I'm doing this right.

Unknown said...

Watched this movie for about the 3rd time. Your information was great!! Thanks

Ken Nowak said...

Hi, thanks very much for the nice write-up. I live in Dublin CA and watched Impact last night and was not expecting to like the movie that much but really liked it.

I loved the various location shoots and was confused by the City of Larkspur Idaho so had been trying to figure this out. It didn't make sense how he took a train or arrived in Idaho as it is way out of the way of his east-west journey.

Anyway, you answered all my questions and appreciate the detailed photos you included in your story.

Regards, Ken


Related Posts with Thumbnails