Ah yes, I do love San Francisco, that gorgeous coastal city filled with instantly recognized landmarks as exclamation points to an urban look quite unlike any other American city. The city has an eclectic atmosphere that is part fog and mist, part myth, and all magic. When you see the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time, it is an awe-inspiring moment. Once you’re done snapping some pictures you might say to yourself, “Why do they call it the Golden Gate? It’s not golden at all – it’s really reddish.”
And so it is. Seeing the bridge is breath taking. Driving on it is thrilling; maybe even nerve-wracking. But imagine fighting for your life in deadly hand-to-hand combat high up on a support cable approaching the top of the towers.
Frankly, I hope I’m never in that spot or in a similar situation. But the screenwriters of the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill, not only imagined it, but Director John Glen and his production team executed this high flying feat of cinematic magic. This was the last Bond film that featured Roger Moore, but this magnificent bridge and the city of San Francisco will long remain a favorite among favorites as the setting for a movie.
The loveliness of Paris
Seems somehow sadly gay
The glory that was Rome
Is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
And I’m coming home to my city by the bay…
Steve McQueen, in his Ford Mustang, thrilled us in the automobile chase sequence with the classic Dodge Charger driven by the bad guys in Bullitt. We watched and our hearts were thumping in our chests as those cars flew up, down, and over the hilly streets. Clint Eastwood based his signature Dirty Harry series all over the city. Even J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez) did a romantic comedy called The Wedding Planner in this delightful city. You can see the G.G. Bridge on the background during a golf scene filmed in Lincoln Park.
In the urban thriller set in S.F., Pacific Heights, Michael Keaton scared the pants off of us as the tenant from hell. The tagline for this movie was: “It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave.” Lovely neighborhood, love thy neighbor? I don’t think so.
All sorts of stars played their roles in this city. Sean Connery? He flashed his acting chops in The Presidio and in The Rock which is a nickname for Alcatraz, the former prison set on an island in San Francisco Bay. And speaking of the Rock, we have Burt Lancaster as The Birdman of Alcatraz (not pictured), as well as Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz.
I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill; it calls to me
To be where little cable cars
Climb halfway to the stars!
And the morning fog will chill the air
Gene Hackman starred as an electronic surveillance expert in The Conversation. He listened to his targets as his equipment acquired every word they said as they crossed Union Square. Michael Douglas was the lead as a wealthy man playing for his life in The Game and as an SF detective in Basic Instincts. Famed Director Alfred Hitchcock shot some scenes for both Vertigo and The Birds in this city.
But this city is not only photogenic, it is also very romantic. Maggie Cheung, a star of Hong Kong films, came to San Francisco to portray a cab-driver in the romance/drama film Sausalito.
The Joy Luck Club, a generational film from the book by Amy Tan, used San Francisco as its present day back-drop while telling the stories of four Chinese women who made their way to the city by the bay.
The city has its own signature song. When Tony Bennett sang, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, which was written by George Cory with lyrics by Douglas Cross in 1954, it became famous. Years later, it is an evergreen of a song that will always charm us.
My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco
Your golden sun will shine for me
Me? I’ve been there only a few times; the last time was last year in November. I’ll always remember my times there and I’ll always adore riding the cable cars, the view from the Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill, as well as watching the sun virtually sinking into the Pacific Ocean at sunset from a comfortable perch at The Cliff House, which is located all the way out on the western edge of the city at Point Lobos.
Yes, my heart warms to the thoughts of today’s San Francisco ? Seal Rock, The Embarcadero, Ghirardelli Square, The Cannery, and Fisherman’s Wharf are all memorable places. But my heart also warms to the San Fran of a different era ? Haight-Asbury, The Doors, Deadheads, pot-heads, and the counter culture which emanated from the Cal-Berkeley campus across the bay.
Generally, you can ride the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in from the airport, and on many evenings in San Francisco, you have to deal with a chilly fog. And I’ll be doing exactly that later this month. Here at The Arts, normally, it’s all traffic-free sunny days that await you. Welcome to the our new blog and we get where we are going by scrolling. Happy days await…