Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) - Film Locations


House on Telegraph Hill (1951) is a thriller about a Nazi concentration camp survivor, Victoria (Valentina Cortesa), who assumes the identity of her friend Karin who died in the camp. Victoria's family was killed by the Nazis and she has no one to go home to, so after the camp is liberated, Victoria, who has taken possession of her friend's identification papers, heads to America using Karin's identity. As Karin, Victoria finds herself living in a mansion on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. She's now married, pretending to be the mother to a son, and the next in line to the Dernakova fortune. Things at first appear to go well for Victoria but then strange things begin to take place and Victoria doesn't know what to make of them.

The film, directed by Robert Wise, is shot in beautiful black and white with much of the filming taking place in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. The film stars Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortesa, and William Lundigan.

1541 Montgomery Street, San Francisco

Julius Castle, 1541 Montgomery Street

The mansion in the film is actually what used to be Julius Castle, a restaurant designed to look like a castle, located at 1541 Montgomery Street on Telegraph Hill. The filmmakers added on to the exterior of the building to hide the elements that would reveal the building to be a restaurant. Julius's Castle was built in 1923 by Italian-born architect Louis Mastropasqua for another Italian who immigrated to San Francisco, restaurateur Julius Roz. The attraction unfortunately closed in 2008 and the building is currently for sale. According to Preservation Nation, the restaurant has had many celebrity visitors, everyone from the likes of Sean Connery, Robert Redford, and Ginger Rogers, to the entire cast of The Empire Strikes Back.

View of San Francisco from Telegraph Hill

View of San Francisco from Telegraph Hill

Above is a view of San Francisco seen during the beginning of the film, when Victoria arrives in her new city. Just below that is a photograph of the city from the blog The Imperfect Traveller that was taken from Telegraph Hill. You can see there are now many more high-rise buildings in the distance, including the famous Transamerica Pyramid building, San Francisco's tallest skyscraper, which wasn't built until 1972.

San Francisco seen from The House on Telegraph Hill

In the scene below, Victoria runs into her friend Major Marc Bennett (William Lundigan) at a market located at 301 Union Street, not far from the mansion location.

Victoria stops by a market at 301 Union Street

Looking towards 301 Union St. from Montgomery St.

Victoria and Marc at the market. The NW corner of Union and Montgomery can be seen in the background.

NW corner of Union St. and Montgomery St.

Looking down Union St. towards Castle St.

Looking down Union St. towards Castle St.

Looking down Montgomery St. from Union St.

Looking down Montgomery St. from Union St.

In this next scene Victoria is seen driving away from the house on Telegraph Hill. She starts at 1541 Montgomery Street and once she starts winding down Telegraph Hill she realizes her brakes have been cut and she can't stop. She ultimately crashes at a dead end street located on Montgomery Street near Montague Place.

Victoria leaves the house at 1541 Montgomery St.

Looking down Montgomery St. from the site of the house.

Victoria heads down Lombard St. towards Grant St.

Looking down Lombard towards Grant.

Looking up Lombard from Grant.

Looking up Lombard from Grant.

Turning from Chestnut St. onto Leavenworth St.

Looking up Chestnut from Leavenworth.

Turning from Montgomery to Union.

Looking down Union towards Calhoun Terrace.

Victoria turns onto Calhoun Terrace.

Victoria heads down Montgomery St. towards Montague Place.

Montgomery St. at Montague Place.

Victoria crashes at Montgomery and Montague.

Looking down Montague Place from Montgomery.

Victoria begins to be suspicious of all the strange events taking place around her and goes to meet Marc Bennett at his office. In the scene below, she is in a taxi that is driving down Post Street towards Market Street. The taxi pulls over and Victoria gets out and runs into what used to be the Crocker Building. The Crocker Building, which survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, was demolished in the 1960s. To see what this building once looked like visit this great site, SepiaTown.

Post Street near Market Street.

Post St. at Market St. Crocker Galleria is on the right.

Victoria arrives at the Crocker building on Post St.

Post Street near Market Street.

Victoria approaches the Crocker building on Post St.

Looking down Post Street towards Market St.

Victoria meets up again with Marc at the San Francisco Yacht Club off of Marina Boulevard. In the first comparison you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and in the second comparison we get a glimpse of the Exploratorium, a "museum of science, art and human perception."

Marc meets with Victoria at the Yacht Club.

The Yacht Club off of Marina Boulevard.

Victoria and Marc at the Yacht Club.

The San Francisco Marina Yacht Harbor.

House on Telegraph Hill is available on DVD as part of the Fox Film Noir series. It is also currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Screenshots (c) Twentieth Century-Fox, present day images, except where noted, (c) 2012 Google.


Laura said...

Another great post, Robby! I've only been to San Francisco a couple of times but it was a lot of fun to see how the locations compare to the modern-day city, especially as I enjoyed this film very much.

I sent a link to this post to my dad and he said he's pretty sure he ate at that Telegraph Hill restaurant many years ago. :)

Best wishes,

Robby Cress said...

Hi Laura,

Glad you enjoyed this post and were able to share with your dad. I hope the Julius restaurant is able to reopen. I haven't eaten at the restaurant myself but would like to on another trip to San Francisco. What a cool building in a great location!


Paul D. Marks said...

Great piece, Robby. And as always great before and after pix. Makes me want to run up to San Francisco. But how come the old b/w pix always look better to me than the "today" pix? -- Paul

Silver Screenings said...

Such a great movie, and I love that you've included all these present-day photos. This is on my must-see list if I'm ever in San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

As a native San Franciscan, this film is full of shots as I remember them as a child. I went to Julias's Castle as a kid on special outings. A side note, Richard Basehert and Valentia fell in love while making this movie and were married after the filming.

Unknown said...

Robby, I believe a local resident has recently purchased Julius Castle, and hopes to restore it to its former glory, and re-open it as a restaurant.

Robby Cress said...

Hi Paul,

I know what you mean. This blog is like my DeLorean - my time travel vehicle to the past.


Yes, you will definitely have to watch this film the next time you decide to go to San Francisco!


Thanks for sharing that bit of trivia about Richard Baseheart and Valentina. And that must have been fun as a kid going up to Julius Castle.


Thanks for the update on Julius Castle. I'm so glad to hear that some one is interested in restoring the place AND re-opening it as a restaurant. I hope to stop in for meal when that happens :)

Anonymous said...

Great job with the before and after pics. Makes me want to to watch the House on Telegraph Hill...

Chrisd said...

Hi Robby, would you know where the backyard was filmed behind the mansion in Telegraph hill? Also, have you found the auto garage or any of the locations used in Out of the Past? (noticed you had it listed as a favorite)

Robby Cress said...

Hi Chrisd,

I'm not sure on the garage or about the backyard. THe backyard looks like it was probably from another spot on Telegraph Hill. As for Out of the Past, I haven't done a post on all of the locations, but I have highlighted a few LA locations here:


Ken Edwards said...

Ate there years ago (1991). Amazing view, and all the more amazing because I want paying!


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