Alphabetical Movie – The Lineup
I love San Francisco. I mean, I like where I live and I’m not looking to move but if I had to move, My first choice would be San Francisco.
My brother lives there and that means I’ve been there enough to be quite familiar with the city. So familiar, in fact, that when I watch a film like The Lineup, which is set in San Francisco, I find myself distracted by where certain scenes are taking place.
For instance, one of the scenes in the film takes place in front of the Cliff House. I’ve eaten in the Cliff House. The film was made in 1958 so next to the Cliff House you can see the Sutro baths, which burned down in 1966.
I’ve walked around the ruins of the bath houses with my kids. It’s national park land now. All I was thinking when watching that scene was how I was seeing what the Sutro baths looked like when they were actually there. I couldn’t honestly tell you what happened in the scene because I was geeking out about the location.
I do that a lot when I’m watching movies set in San Francisco. I also think about the movies I’ve seen when I’m visiting San Francisco. I go to Fort Point and look at the spot where Kim Novak jumped into the bay in Vertigo. I go to Alcatraz and laugh at how there is not a single part of the place that looks like a single scene from The Rock. I try very hard to avoid driving like anyone from Bullit.
Heck, I get annoyed when the Golden Gate Bridge is torn up in Monsters vs. Aliens. Or any other disaster film, for that matter.
I don’t get nearly as obsessed when I see my own home town in a movie. I can’t recall a moment where I’ve watched Purple Rain or…uh…that one other movie that was set in Minneapolis and given a second thought to the place. I watched Fargo (that’s the other one) and I didn’t even notice they were driving into the city from the wrong direction.
San Francisco is probably a romantic attachment for me. If I lived there, I might be as inured to the experience as I am to living in the Twin Cities. As it is, I go there just enough to miss it when I’m not there and to think about how much I miss it when I’m watching movies that are set there.
I notice the geographical problems, too. Like the fact that in Star Trek IV, they set the ship down in Golden Gate Park but then they take a bus to the Cetacean Institute, which is set at Monterey Bay aquarium and there is no way you are taking a bus from downtown San Francisco to Monterey and then walking back over the Golden Gate bridge.
Monterey is the other direction! What the fuck???
Writing about San Francisco is just depressing, though, because it makes me realize I haven’t been there for a couple of years. I haven’t climbed the filbert steps to Coit tower or taken my kids to the Exploratorium for far too long.
Fortunately, I still have a brother who lives there. That means I still have an excuse to go back. As if I needed one.