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

Golden Gate Bridge & Waldo Tunnels

Highway 101, Sausalito, CA 94966, USA


Considering the Golden Gate Bridge rates as San Francisco’s primary landmark, surprisingly it features only briefly in Dirty Harry. We get a glimpse of it towards the end of the film when Scorpio hijacks a school bus at 15th Avenue & Noriega with seven kids on board. He then phones the Mayor demanding £200, 000 in cash and a jet aircraft to make his getaway.

Scorpio is courteous to the kids at first, and not wanting to cause alarm, tells them they are going to visit an ice-cream factory “to see how ice-creams are made”. Secretly, he instructs the driver, Marcella Platt (“you can check that if you want but I don’t see any point – I’m not bullshitting, and you know it”) to head towards Santa Rosa Airport.

Scorpio sings songs to put the children at ease (“Row, row, row your boat”), but a chubby kid gets suspicious and starts to cry (“I wanna go home to my mother!”). Scorpio loses control (“Now, sing! Are you sick? What is it? All your mothers will die if you don’t sing!”) and starts slapping and verbally abusing the terrified hostages.

This scene takes place on Highway 101 as the bus heads across the Golden Gate Bridge towards Sausalito, north of San Francisco. It then passes through the Waldo Tunnel, distinctive in the film by the rainbow painted entrance arches.


Scene-shot (01:28:49): After hijacking the school bus with seven kids on board, Scorpio oders the driver, Marcella Platt, to head towards Santa Rosa Airport to the north of San Francisco. Here the bus is seen crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101.


Built in 1937 to connect the city of San Francisco with nearby Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s most photograped bridge and needs little introduction here.

With the obvious exception of numerous paint-jobs over the decades, the bridge has not changed a great deal since the filming of Dirty Harry in 1971. It will go on being the city’s top tourist attraction for decades to come.

The Waldo Tunnels, on the other hand, are inconspicuous and quite difficult to access on foot. They’re located just north of the bridge along Highway 101, dug into the Marin headlands en route to Sausalito. Just to the right of the southern entrance is a small layby here Director Don Siegel had the cameras set up to film the bus entering the tunnels.

Scene-shot (01:28:41): As the bus crosses the Golden Gate Bridge the camera pans down from one of the two large suspenion towers. This shot shows the southern tower.

Scene-shot (01:29:02): Director Don Siegel made extensive use of the wide, panoramic shot throughtout the film and he doesn't disappoint is this scene. Here we see Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline from the perspective of the school bus as it crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.

Scene-shot (01:29:18): Scorpio, Marcella Platt and the busload of kids heading north along Highway 101 on its approach to the Waldo Tunnels. Note the Golden Gate Bridge on the left side of the shot.

Scene-shot (01:29:22): The school bus entering the south entrance of the Waldo Tunnel. Note the rainbow paintwork above the arches.

Scene-shot (01:29:51): "I wanna go home to my mother, I wanna go home to my mother!" Soon after exiting the Waldo Tunnels a chubby kid starts to cry and tells Scorpio he doesn't want to see how ice-creams are made. Here we see Scorpio one second before cracking and losing control.

Scene-shot (01:30:05): Scorpio cracks. "I'm gonna kill all your mothers!" The insanity in those eyes says it all! Scorpio loses the plot and starts smacking and verbally abusing the kids. Andy Robinson, the actor seen here playing Scorpio, is apparently a pacifist in real life and was revulsed at having to shoot this scene. Almost breaking down on camera at times, Robinson was so convincing throughout the film as a deranged psychopath, he reportedly received death threats long after the film's release as some found it difficult differentiating between the character and the actor. As Eastwood biographer Richard Schickel says, it was "terrific nut-job acting".


One response

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