An alternative journey through SAN FRANCISCO seen from the perspective of DIRTY HARRY filming locations

Forest Hill Station

Laguna Honda Blvd. & Dewey Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94116, USA

SCENE SYNOPSIS:

“Now get the Forest Hill Station as fast as you can. Cop, I hope you’re not stupid.”

On the ransom run, in order to ensure there are no police back-up squads, Scorpio bounces Callahan all over San Francisco from phone booth to phone booth. Carrying a yellow bag with $200,000 in used 10s and 20s, Callahan is given a certain amount of time to get to each phone where Scorpio will be ringing to relay further instructions for the drop off.

If Callahan’s late, if nobody picks up after the forth ring, Scorpio will hang up and it’s the end of the game. Dead girl, yeah.

One of the locations Callahan is told to get to is Forest Hill subway station. After a long run from Marina Green Harbour, Callahan approaches the station from the rear.

Entering the station through a side entrance on the south wing, the phone in main concourse is already ringing. He lunges at the receiver and picks up: “Callahan”. On the other end of the line Scorpio is brief: “Downstairs. Take the K Car. Get off at Church & 20th. Hurry up or you’ll blow it”.

So Callahan sprints down to the lower platforms. Barely keeping his balance on the breakneck stairs, slipping and sliding in 70s leather-soled slip-ons, hauling commuters in all directions, Callahan manages to board the train.

Scene-shot (00:47:49): "I'm watching you. Not all the time, but you'll never know when or where. Now get to Forest Hill Station as fast as you can, understand? Cop, I hope you’re not stupid." After receiving Scorpio's instructions, Callahan, clutching the yellow bag with $200,000 ransom money to save Ann Mary Deacon, approaches Forest Hill Station from the rear park and makes haste for the side entrance. Note the station's three arched windows.

STATE OF PLAY TODAY:

Forest Hill is both San Francisco’s deepest and oldest subterranean station. Built in 1918, it is in fact reported to be the oldest in-use subway station west of Chicago!

Today the general appearance and layout of the station looks very much the same as it did in the 1971 film. However,
there are a few notable differences:

In the film Callahan approaches the station from the rear, runs down a narrow path and enters the station through a side entrance on the south side. This side entrance is no longer in use and now forms part of an extension/annex built in the 1980s to accommodate lifts down to the lower platforms. The path Callahan ran down has gone.

Inside the main concourse, the newsstand/kiosk has gone; and the public phone Callahan used to speak with Scorpio has been moved to a more central position (and is no longer in use). With the obvious exception of interior improvements over the decades, much of everything else – including the stair railings, wall tiling, hand rails, and arched panelled windows – has survived.

Scene-shot (00:47:53): Callahan enters Forest Hill Station through a side entrance on the south side. This entrance is no longer in use. The doorway and accompanying semi-circular window still exist today, but they're now inside, forming part of an annex/extension built sometime in the 1980s to house lifts to the platforms below.

Scene-shot (00:48:03): Callahan enters Forest Hill Station through the side entrance. Today this entrance is no longer in use; the doors are still there but they lead into a small extension/side room that was built (probably in 1985) to accommodate lifts to the platforms below. The silver-painted door directly behind Callahan's left shoulder and the metal railings to the right of the shot (although now painted brown) look in 2010 as they appear in 1971.

Scene-shot (00:48:21): "Downstairs. Take the K car. Get off at Church and 20th. Hurry up, or you'll blow it." Upon entering Forest Hill Station the public phone rings almost immediately. It's Scorpio and he's dead on time. Today, there is a payphone along this wall but it has been moved to a more central position and is no longer in use. Note the panelling on the window behind Callahan - this is one of the arched windows seen at the back of the station seconds earlier when Callahan runs down the path towards the side entrance. These windows are today exactly how they were in 1971. The newspaper/snack kiosk on the left of the shot has gone.

Scene-shot (00:48:23): After receiving Scorpio's instructions to get to Church & 20th, Callahan sprints down the main stairs to the platforms below.

Scene-shot (00:48:29): Note the arched window seen through the gap at the top of the stairs. The metal hand rails fixed to the wall and the tiling work seen in this 1971 shot are also exactly the same in 2010.

Scene-shot (00:48:36): The smooth polished floors prove hazardous for Callahan. Racing down the stairs he slips and slides in his flat 70s lace-ups barely able to keep a balance on the breakneck stairs.

Scene-shot (00:48:41): As Callahan approaches the platforms he passes the name "Kyle" spray-painted on the wall. This is in reference to Eastwood's two-year-old son Kyle.

Scene-shot (00:48:51): Forest Hill Station platform INBOUND – the side heading towards San Francisco city centre. In this shot Callahan has just manhandled the passenger in the tan blazer in his determination to get aboard the train. As Scorpio told him: “Hurry up, or you’ll blow it.”

One response

  1. paul smyth

    The ‘movie ‘The Black Windmill’ starring Michael Caine also has ‘Kyle’ written on the wall of an underground train station stairwell. Approximately 1 hour into the film, Caine descends to the platform of the Aldwych tube station, and the work can be seen on the wall.

    March 27, 2016 at 18:34

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