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San Francisco on the Big Screen: Famous Films Set in The City

Maggie Bach January 25, 2023

San Francisco’s dynamic share of famous landmarks, architecture, and picturesque views makes it a hot spot for films to set in. From romantic comedies to cult favorites to action-packed adventures, The City has had amazing films covering its diverse culture and landscape. Here are films that have showcased San Francisco on the big screen and famous locations you can visit throughout our beloved City!

Always Be My Maybe

Always Be My Maybe is a hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy starring comedians Ali Wong and Randall Park. Two childhood best friends are reunited in San Francisco and we get to see many iconic spots in the film, including Chinatown, Pier 39, Embarcadero, and Civic Center. One of the scenes in the movie features Sasha (Ali Wong) shopping at the Heart of The City Farmers’ Market. Our residents at 1177 Market, 33 8th, 1190 Mission, and 1188 Mission are moments away from this local grocery goodness!

Mrs. Doubtfire

This sentimental comedy featuring Robin Williams and Sally Field is a beloved film that was set and filmed around San Francisco. Daniel (Robin Williams) comes up with a novel plan to be with his three kids and the movie showcases iconic neighborhoods in The City, including the prestigious Pac Heights and vibrant North Beach districts. The Hilliard family home is set at 2640 Steiner Street, a short walk from our apartments at 2000 Broadway and 2200 Jackson. “Mrs. Doubtfire” eventually gets an apartment at 520-522 Green Street in Telegraph Hill, a five-minute walk from our apartments at 350 Union!

Dirty Harry

In this cult-favorite, Clint Eastwood plays Harry Callahan, a San Francisco cop whose mission is to track down a serial murderer and keep a 14-year-old kidnapped teenager safe at all costs. “Go ahead, make my day”. This iconic moment from Dirty Harry was set right here in The City, on 701 3rd Street! You can visit this exact spot where Dirty Harry uttered these famous words, and luckily for our residents at Trinity Place, it’s less than 10 minutes away! SF’s City Hall is also featured in the film which is right nearby our apartments at Trinity Towers.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco 

Shot entirely in The City, The Last Black Man in San Francisco stars Jimmie Falls and follows his journey to reclaim the Victorian home his grandfather once built in San Francisco. His best friend Mont, follows him on this quest, as Jimmie looks for a sense of belonging in what feels like a rapidly changing city. The audience gets many visuals of SF in this moving film, and the infamous house in the movie is set in the Mission, a six-minute drive from our apartments at 230 Dolores and 240 Dolores!

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 

Marvel Studio’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings made international headlines as the first Marvel film featuring a superhero of Asian descent. Played by Simu Liu, this action-packed film follows Shang-Chi as he navigates the obstacles tied to his family’s legacy. The first part of the movie is set in San Francisco and features the memorable bus chase scene on MUNI. The audience also gets shots of the Richmond district, the apartment where Shang-Chi lives. Our apartments at 422 9th and 430 9th are in this exact wonderful Richmond neighborhood!

Pursuit of Happyness

Based on a true story, the Pursuit of Happyness is a biographical drama based on San Francisco salesman, Chris Gardner. Will and Jaden Smith star alongside each other as father and son and we see Chris (Will Smith) navigate the hardships of being a single parent, finding stable housing, and creating a better life for him and his son. The story and film are set in SF and the day school Chris drops his son off at is set on 20 Ross Alley, five minutes from our apartments at 350 Union and Crystal Tower! The final scene of the film shows Chris and his son at Broadway and Taylor Street looking out to the Bay Bridge, right by our apartments at 2133 Stockton and 1000 Chestnut.

The Princess Diaries

A Disney classic. The Princess Diaries stars Anne Hathaway, as Mia Thermopolis and her journey to becoming the heir to the Genovian throne. The story takes place in SF and the audience sees many moments set in The City including the Marina and Russian Hill neighborhoods. Mia and her friends attend Anthony Grove High School, and most of the scenes we see outside are shot near 2601 Lyon Street, right next to our apartments at Marina Cove! In one of the most memorable scenes of the film, Mia’s mustang makes it halfway up one of the streets in Russian Hill and crashes into a cable car. Our residents at 1000 Chestnut are right by this scenic intersection!


Milk is a film based on gay rights activist and politician, Harvey Milk, and his journey to becoming the first openly gay person elected to public office in California. Sean Penn who stars as Harvey Milk received an Academy Award for Best Actor in this role. In the film, the audience sees Harvey open a camera store on Castro street. This infamous spot is only five minutes away from our apartments at 230 Dolores and 240 Dolores Street! Harvey also hosts his first rally by standing on a soap box on Castro at 17th street, alongside the Castro MUNI station. The courtyard underground is now known as Harvey Milk Plaza, and MUNI gets our residents at Trinity Place there in under 10 minutes!

The Maltese Falcon 

A black and white classic film! Based on the famous Dashiell Hammett novel, The Maltese Falcon follows the story of detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and his mission to locate a valuable figurine after his partner is murdered. Filming locations throughout The City included the Ferry Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. MUNI gets our residents to the Ferry Building from Trinity Place in under 10 minutes! There’s even a replica of the Maltese Falcone on display at John’s Grill, right by our apartments at Trinity Towers!

What are some of your favorite movies based in San Francisco? Let us know which film in our round-up you’d like to watch (or re-watch) and what famous locations you want to visit! 
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