Heart of the City Archives

Judy Irving and Mark Bittner are bringing the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (inset) to a theatre near you.

Birds and B's of the City's silver screen
by Hank Donat

The City's return to cinematic glory as Hollywood North took a step closer to reality in recent weeks when makers of the musical Rent signed on for filming at Treasure Island.

No sooner had the City inked the Rent deal than the organizers of our most glamorous Oscar party, the Friends of the Academy gala, announced "A Night of Silver" as the theme for the February 27 event at Fort Mason. The Friends' 25th annual gala will transport guests through the other side of the silver screen, like Alice through a looking glass, to a "contrasting, gleaming world of the future." Sounds like fun. Last year, the Friends raised $450,000 for 14 Bay Area AIDS service organizations.

In other movie news, the long awaited national release of Judy Irving's The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill gets underway in just a few weeks. Locals can catch Wild Parrots beginning February 9 at the Embarcadero Theatre.

Here is one list on which Irving is not likely ever to find her wonderful documentary of free spirited parrots in San Francisco. In a departure from other features on movies made in our town, Heart of the City offers a run down of the turgid and the terrible - the so-called killer B's. These are the films that blight up our lives and sully San Francisco's cinema legacy.

The Sweetest Thing stars Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair as roommates in a run of the mill sex and dating comedy. The 2002 release was directed by Roger Kumble from a script by Nancy Pimental. The women's address is given as 1151 Kearny Street. Other San Francisco locations include the Black Cat restaurant, Marriot Hotel, Palace of Fine Arts, Grant Cleaners, and Mayerson Food Co.

Brendan Fraser takes a dip in the Vaillancourt Fountain in the 2000 comedy Bedazzled. Elizabeth Hurley is the Devil, who grants Fraser's character seven wishes. He should have wished for a different project. Other City locations include the Ferry Building, City Hall, Columbus Avenue and other streets, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Directed by Harold Ramis from original material written by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The superior and very funny 1967 version stars Cook and Moore with Raquel Welch but without San Francisco.

Crowds gathered in North Beach when a film crew shot scenes for Twisted at The Saloon, 1232 Grant Avenue. Ashley Judd stars in director Philip Kaufman's 2004 turkey that casts Judd as a homicide inspector who's her own best suspect. The painfully predictable Twisted also stars Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia. Pine Sol lady comedian Diane Amos appears briefly. Also features scenes at Tosca, Red's Java House, City Hall, Crissy Field, Pac Bell Park, Pier 39 Sea Lions, Hills Bros. Building, the Old Mint, and a crime scene at 3525 Pacific Avenue.

Workaholic advertising executive Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) learns to relax by spending time at Dolores Park with dying honey Charleze Theron in the difficult-to-watch 2001 remake of Sweet November. Reeves and Theron have little chemistry and the script by Kurt Voelker is a cut-and-paste from Lifetime movies on TV. City locations like Farley's on Potrero Hill are a good distraction from the story. When Theron and Reeves meet at the overpass along the J-Line at Dolores Park, director Pat O'Connor chose to conceal the statue on the east side of the bridge with a makeshift greenhouse. The statue is that of Miguel Hidalgo, the Mexican revolutionary who was executed at Chihuahua in 1811.

In 2002, acclaimed director Ang Lee's Hulk was filmed in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The feature version of the Marvel comic by Stan Lee revisits the story of scientist Bruce Banner and his alter ego, the raging Hulk. The boring blockbuster featured action sequences and a Hulk transformation at Vallejo and Sansome Streets.

Rollerball is the 2002 remake about a culture under global corporate domination. Rollerball, a track game played with motorcycles and roller skaters, is the blood sport of a violent society. Chris Klein stars as Jonathan Cross, who races down San Francisco's steep streets on his back, against traffic, before moving on to the big time as a Rollerballer. A downtown stretch of Sacramento Street along Nob Hill, Chinatown, and the Financial District is a featured location. Critics hated this remake, directed by John McTiernan, who also made "Die Hard."

The Other Sister is director Garry Marshall's shameless 1999 comedy/drama about a mentally challenged woman ready to assert her independence. Juliette Lewis is the young woman, Carla Tate. Diane Keaton is her protective mother, Elizabeth. Carla marries sweetheart Giovanni Ribisi at the National Shrine of St. Francis in North Beach. The Palace of Fine Arts, the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate also appear.

Strangers Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan meet at the Buena Vista Cafe, where they argue before making out in front of a gawking crowd in When a Man Loves a Woman. Later, Meg and Andy are married with children and Meg's character Alice, is a dry drunk who starts to question the whole arrangement. The 1994 snore is directed by Luis Mandoki.

Chris O'Donnell is chased through the Stockton Tunnel by a thousand brides in The Bachelor. The 1999 romantic comedy from director Gary Sinyor includes performances by Renee Zellweger, Ed Asner, Brooke Shields, Mariah Carey, Hal Holbrook, Peter Ustinov, and James Cromwell. The lame story centers on O'Donnell, who must find a bride in 24 hours in order to inherit $100 million.

In Dogfight, River Phoenix and Lily Taylor hop off a north bound cable car at Geary and Powell when the conductor calls, "Powell and Market," a south bound stop a few blocks away. San Franciscans never miss a trick when it comes to out-of-sequence locations. In this 1991 coming of age story directed by Nancy Savoca, Phoenix and Taylor meet and fall in love in the hours before the Phoenix character is shipped off to Vietnam in 1963. They should have shipped off the prints of this film instead.

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