A couple of weeks
ago I reported that North Beach neighbors hate the new parking sign
at the Green Street Mortuary. Now it looks as though matters have
gone from bad to worse in a City where classic signs are symbols of
the community. Now the mortuary has altered its main sign, covering
over a 60 year-old neon gem.
The mortuary's parent company Dignity Memorial has a thing for black
and for its own logo. North Beach denizens have a thing for neighborhood
preservation. Memo to Dignity: Take a look at some works from the
late jazz photographer/filmmaker Jerry Stoll. The mortuary sign appears
in at least a few of Stoll's pieces. After you've finished doing that,
change the sign back. A grateful City will thank you.
On to "The Reel San Francisco." Gary Meyer brings many of the best
made-in-SF film to the Balboa Theatre, 3630 Blaboa Avenue, for a film
festival from April 16-May 11. The opening feature is Steve McQueen's
legendary cop drama Bullitt.
You may have seen those auto insurance commercials that use footage
from The French Connection and Speed to depict the insurance needs
of citizens who suffer damages in the wake of unbelievable accidents.
The ads' producer must be salivating over the scenes in Bullitt, which
reinvented the cinema car chase with hair-raising action in 1968.
Blake Edwards' 1962 thriller Experiment
in Terror bows at the Balboa on April 28. A key location is the
garage at 100 St. Germain Avenue in Twin Peaks, where the asthmatic
stalker played by Ross Martin terrorizes bank teller Lee Remick. Here's
a bit of trivia: San Francisco actually has two notorious cinema garages
and one from television. Separate kidnappings occur in the garages
at 2230 Sacramento St. in Alfred Hitchcock's Family Plot, and at 2000
Broadway in "The Streets of San Francisco" Episode #42, Chapel of
the Damned. Honorable mention: Herbie the Love Bug takes a flying
leap from the Downtown Center Garage, O'Farrell and Mason streets.
The Reel San Francisco brings Harold
and Maude back to the screen April 29 and 30. For trivia on Hal
Ashby's 1971 black comedy about a suicidal 20 year-old and his 79
year-old girlfriend, visit geocities.com/RainForest/5862/harold.htm.
Cole Valley resident Mike Sullivan runs the site, a nexus for all
things Harold and all things Maude.
Joan Crawford lives in blissful ignorance with new love Jack Palance
at 2800 Scott Street in David Miller's Sudden
Fear, appearing at the Balboa April 25 and 26. In the nail-biting
1952 noir thriller, Crawford makes a mad dash from the Scott Street
location to the Tamalpais Building, 1201 Greenwich, in just twenty
minutes in order to head off a murderer. (It may be possible, but
not in those shoes!)
May 11 brings Janis, a compilation
film featuring Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company,
Kosmic Blues Band, and the Fill Tilt Boogie Band. Joplin lived in
apartment #3 at 112 Lyon Street in the Haight, when she recorded the
"Cheap Thrills" album in 1967. The hard drinking rock star who died
in Los Angeles of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 on October 4,
1970 was evicted from the Lyon Street apartment she shared with Country
Joe McDonald but not for drug use nor for any untoward behavior. Janis
was evicted for having a pet, her collie mix George, in violation
of the terms of her lease.
Woman on the Run, a lost
noir classic from 1950 that has returned for festival screenings in
recent years, runs the weekend of May 1. The film follows Ann Sheridan
as the noir heroin who searches for her estranged husband in all corners
of the City. Woman on the Run is the very best San Francisco movie
that you probably haven't seen. A seaside stand-in for Playland dominates
the climax. Film experts and history buffs disagree on the actual
location, but Laughing Sal is the real deal.
Recently I was talking with some young, politically active gay people
who actually asked, "Who's Harvey Milk?" It was one of those painfully
hard to believe moments like the time my kid sister asked me if I
knew that Annie Lennox "used be in some duo." Don't let this happen
to you! "The Times of Harvey Milk,"
is director Rob Epstein's Oscar winning documentary on the rise of
Milk as San Francisco's first openly gay Supervisor and the almost
unbearably painful aftermath of Milk's assassination on November 27,
1978. Epstein introduces the film at the 7:00 screening on May 5.
In "The Conversation," April
21-22, a mystery unfolds at Union Square as more and more of a taped
Conversation is revealed. Gene Hackman is a surveillance expert obsessed
with a case. Francis Ford Coppola directed the 1974 thriller, an Oscar
nominee that year for Best Picture. Cindy Williams, Teri Garr, Frederic
Forrest, and Harrison Ford also have interesting roles in this very
interesting film, one of the best of 1970s. Observe the mime during
the Union Square sequences. That's Robert Shields, whose career rose
to the world stage from this venue.
For more information on "The Reel San Francisco" at the Balboa Theatre,
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