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Let’s remember San Francisco’s glorious history as the home of film noir

The Lady From Shanghai, 1947 (Photo: Robert Coburn Sr./John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)

In the peak American film noir years from 1940 to 1960, an astonishing number of these movies took place in the scenic west coast city of San Francisco. Fandor’s new video, “Shadows In The Fog: Classic San Francisco Film Noir” points out that as many as 70 of these films were set in the city by the bay, including classics like John Huston’s version of the The Maltese Falcon, which kicked off the genre in 1941. Orson Welles followed in 1947 with The Lady From Shanghai, which featured scenes in the city’s famous aquarium and a suspenseful footrace through Chinatown.

That same year saw Humphrey Bogart’s return to San Fran to hide out after an escape from San Quentin in Dark Passage, highlighted by director Delmer Daves’ native knowledge of the city, as well as Robert Mitchum’s noir classic Out Of The Past. All of these films made expert use of the city’s famous hills, fog, and bridges, turning this picturesque tourist destination into the perfect setting for black-and-white crime and mystery drama.


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