Welcome to CinemaToast

(July 2002)

San Francisco
Golden Gate BridgeMany of you out there know that most of us at CinemaToast live around the San Francisco Bay Area. Because we do live in this beautiful City we’re going to create a list of San Francisco movies. As we see it, San Francisco movies fall into three categories:


  1. Movies Set Elsewhere But Filmed in San Francisco. San Francisco does have a wide variety of settings that a filmmaker, especially one who lives in the area, can use for locations that substitute for elsewhere. The City scenes are in the background while the movie tries to be someplace else. An example of this is Francis Ford Coppola’s Tucker: A Man and His Dream (1988). City Hall, located in downtown San Francisco, played the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Other locations around The City, and different places in the Bay Area, played other scenes in Tucker’s life back East. Good film but not for our list.
  2. Movies Set In San Francisco But Filmed Elsewhere. These are movies that use San Francisco as the background of the story but are really filmed someplace else. A good example is the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song (1961). A delightful story of the generation gap in 1960s Chinatown. Among it’s many treasures is the terrific and oh-so-beautiful Nancy Kwan and the sweet and charming Miyoshi Umcki (who in 1957 won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Sayonara). Flower Drum Song, while set in San Francisco Chinatown was, except for a few establishing shots, filmed entirely on a Hollywood sound stage. As much as we love this movie, it’s not for our list.
  3. Steve McQueen in BullittFinally – the thing we treasure: San Francisco Movies Filmed in San Francisco. It’s such a beautiful City that it’s the choice setting for any story. From hard-bitten crime movies like the heart-stopping Bullitt (1968). With the immortal Steve McQueen as the quintessential existential hero (say that three times quickly) and the very best, most exciting car chase in cinema history (sorry you French Connection fans). To one of Hitchcock’s best suspenseful dramas, Vertigo (1958), with an absolutely riveting tour of mid-20th Century San Francisco downtown. And later, The Birds (1963) with beautiful scenes in Union Square in the middle of The City. To light, delightful comedy like The Princess Diaries (2001) with the glowing, timeless Julie Andrews and gentle fun made of tourists and the faux Cable Cars that crisscross The City on rubber tires.

That’s the beginning of the list:

  • Vertigo (1958)
  • Flower Drum Song (1961)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Bullitt (1968)
  • The Princess Diaries (2001)

There are scores more:

  • Dirty Harry (1971)
  • Magnum Force (1973)
  • The Enforcer (1976)
  • 48 Hrs. (1982)
  • The Bachelor (1999)
  • Bedazzled (2000)
  • 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002)

But we at The Toast need your help. Please send us your suggestions of favorite San Francisco Movies filmed in San Francisco. Email your ideas to CinemaToast@comcast.net. The list as it currently stands-San Francisco Movies.

Copyright © 2000-2018 CinemaToast