Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Crushed for the Very First Time: One Man Had to Break the Rules to Destroy the Golden Gate Bridge 

Wednesday, May 7 2014

Hey, that's us! The earliest images from Gareth Edwards' Godzilla — which opens next week — show the big lizard looming over our skyline, with the Transamerica Building especially prominent and vulnerable.

While San Francisco often makes it into monster-destruction montages, we seldom get to be the primary setting. And we may not this time, either. Director Edwards has been coy on the matter, telling Empire magazine in February "the film jumps around a lot," and that "we tried to create this global story." Thanks for nothing, World War Z!

Along with the scale-providing Pointy Building, it's a safe bet that the far more iconic Golden Gate Bridge will also get destroyed. Seriously, if that bridge doesn't get decimated, there's no point unleashing a monster in San Francisco. It's on monster-destruction bucket lists the world over.

Legendary special effects man Ray Harryhausen knew this simple truth, and he went out of his way to be the first to do so in the 1955 giant-octopus picture It Came From Beneath the Sea.

According to the late Harryhausen in the 1998 documentary The Harryhausen Chronicles, S.F.'s City Hall refused to cooperate. The Golden Gate Bridge had never been attacked in a movie, and they were afraid that the sight of a stop-motion octopus tearing down even a model of the bridge might make people think it wasn't safe. Say what you will about Ed Lee, but, wow.

Undaunted, Harryhausen and company drove back and forth in a bakery truck to get all the bridge shots they needed. The great thing about filming without a permit is that the statute of limitations pretty much ends as soon as you get away, so the guerrilla footage is in the movie.

The computer-generated Godzilla destroying the Golden Gate Bridge will probably look more quote-unquote-realistic, but Ray Harryhausen's giant stop-motion octopus got there first in It Came From Beneath the Sea, and in an infinitely more badass way.

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"