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Castro Street to Undergo "Time Warp" for Milk Biopic

Pritikin

Filming begins later this month on Gus van Sant's Milk film about slain SF supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk (starring Sean Penn as Milk, with Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, and James Franco in co-starring roles), and preparations are fully underway to begin shooting on location in San Francisco's Castro district:

Toadhall"Longtime denizens are likely to find some old haunts return to Castro Street, like the fabled Toad Hall bar – now part of Walgreens – and Milk's old camera shop – now the home of gift store Given – as the filmmakers recreate the streetscape from the days when Milk reigned over the area as the 'mayor' of Castro Street. 'We want to dress this neighborhood the best we can like the 1970s,' said Jonathan Shedd, the film's location manager. 'We hope to create a feel that works.' Cars from the era will be parked on the streets. Awnings and street signs of businesses postdating that time will be changed. Even the Castro Theatre will be swept up by the time warp. The movie-house's marquee, damaged by a Muni bus that ran into it while PG&E crews were doing work out front this fall, will be repaired next month and repainted to match the color palette it sported four decades ago."

The filmmakers have been meeting with local business owners to alert them of the "circus" that may prevail when shooting begins there on January 22, although the consensus appears to be that exposure from the film is likely to revitalize the area's businesses and make it a tourist destination.

The images you see here are from Uncle Donald's Castro Street, the most complete historical archive of the neighborhood online. If you haven't been there, it's a fascinating visit.

Top image by Jerry Pritikin, who has his own gallery at Uncle Donald's site. Pritikin writes: "A view of the 1977 Castro Street Fair, looking South from Market Street. This was the old style Castro Fair, nothing but two blocks of wall to wall men!"

***NOTE: We'd love to receive photos from anyone in San Francisco regarding the filming of the Milk film or the transformation of Castro Street!

Castro set for movie makeover [bay area reporter]

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Castrostreet

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Comments

  1. I remember my first visit to Castro Street, summer 81, hopped off a Greyhound from Eugene and stayed for 2 glorious weeks. Never wanted to leave but school was getting back in session. I still have my matches from The Stud.

    Posted by: davefromtampa | Jan 10, 2008 10:23:43 AM


  2. Thank you for the link to Uncle Donald's Castro website. What an interesting read!

    Posted by: Greg | Jan 10, 2008 10:55:14 AM


  3. I'm hoping to get some pictures when they start work (I live right around the corner). If I get any good ones, I'll send them your way.

    Posted by: Scott G | Jan 10, 2008 12:01:51 PM


  4. I live right around the corner and i'm hoping to take pictures as they make the transformation. I'll be sure to send them along.

    Posted by: scott G | Jan 10, 2008 12:03:26 PM


  5. what lovely pix, brings back memories. tho i go way back and remember when polk street was the place to be. the men looked so hot then and tho some sneered at the castro clones they did look so butch so unlike the queens today in my neck of the woods who resemble republicans ready for a round of golf... thanks for the memory...

    Posted by: the queen | Jan 10, 2008 12:26:53 PM


  6. They had color photographs back in the 1970's?? Who would have thought! Anyway, I'm glad people now can afford to take showers. Other interesting eras would the 1920's when the postal service used to conduct raids on gay establishments and the 1940's when navy vets would be discharged in port.

    Posted by: anon (gmail.com) | Jan 10, 2008 1:24:41 PM


  7. How jarring. As if it weren't surreal enough that after all this time, the film is finally to be made... to be transported, literally, back to that time, and that very special place. Like the unofficial motto of Miami Beach goes, "Ah, you should have been here back when..."

    Posted by: circuitmouse | Jan 10, 2008 5:55:16 PM


  8. How jarring. As if it weren't surreal enough that after all this time, the film is finally to be made... to be transported, literally, back to that time, and that very special place. Like the unofficial motto of Miami Beach goes, "Ah, you should have been here back when..."

    Posted by: circuitmouse | Jan 10, 2008 5:55:46 PM


  9. I'm just upset I missed the various casting calls they've held for this movie. Poorly advertised and poorly attended (not my claim; that of the filmmakers), and I would have liked to be part of what I hope will be a great movie.

    I'd give my farious measurements and other details if I thought anyone from the film crew was reading this!

    Posted by: Paul | Jan 10, 2008 10:33:41 PM


  10. I'm just upset I missed the various casting calls they've held for this movie. Poorly advertised and poorly attended (not my claim; that of the filmmakers), and I would have liked to be part of what I hope will be a great movie.

    I'd give my farious measurements and other details if I thought anyone from the film crew was reading this!

    Posted by: Paul | Jan 10, 2008 10:35:53 PM


  11. Thanks for your kind comments about my website, "Uncle Donald's Castro Street". I lived in the Castro in the 1970's and 1980's and was very active in the community. I knew Harvey Milk but I didn't understand like he did that we were making history. Fortunately, as a photography student I took a lot of pictures that now document the people and the times. What I was really doing was photographing the beautiful men that were everywhere! There are nearly 1000 pictures on my website!
    It will be interesting to see how well they recreate the 70's look of the neighborhood, but I can't imagine that they'll be able to capture the unique character of the community. The cultural and sexual revolution that accompanied the proud emergence of the gay community in the early 1970's will not be easy to describe realistically yet believably on film. We were so outrageous that the truth will sound like fantasy!
    The idealism, optimism, and sense of family have long gone from the Castro. Our successful struggle for equal rights put the Castro on the map as a tourist attraction. One-by-one, gay owned businesses were forced out by the real estate interests (which Harvey Milk referred to as "bloodsuckers"), and were replaced by Walgreens and other big businesses. Harvey's store, Castro Camera, was one of the victims. In winning our battles for equality, we lost our neighborhood!
    I hope the movie is well done and accurate, and I hope it is a success. The 1984 movie "The Times of Harvey Milk" won an Oscar for "Best Documentary", but it was far from a blockbuster.
    Uncle Donald

    Posted by: Uncle Donald | Jan 11, 2008 4:33:01 AM


  12. Thank you so very much. One of the photos is my former housemate, good friend who died in the late 1980's. I didn't have a photo of him. You made my day.

    I moved to San Francisco in 1978. The photos brought back so many memories. My first SF position was at Church Street Station and visited so many of the haunts of the Castro. I was one of the few black employees of the Station.

    By the time I moved to the Castro in 1979, I too had become a clone.

    Posted by: Chuck | Jan 11, 2008 3:34:15 PM


  13. Thank you once again for allowing your viewers to take a "trip" on the reversible light-year train via Uncle Donald's GREAT web-site. For me it was a time that train was just arriving... and I never thought of it as history in the making. It was a place in time od cheap weed, real people as well as a few Castro Clones and before AIDS! One of my favorite pieces of memorabilia... a poster made for a softball game "Oil Can Harry's vs. Toad Hall" from 1978... the year I played and pitched for the Oilers... we won the right to represent S.F. in the Gay World Series at New York, but was kicked OUT for having too many "straights" on our roster... then a few months later... the assassinations of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone. I'm looking forward to the "Milk" Movie and hope
    the new Time Warp of the Castro does Harvey and the ERA justice.

    Posted by: JERRY PRITIKIN | Jan 12, 2008 10:48:05 AM


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