Home > Films > D > Doctor Dolittle

Tuesday November 20th 2018

Doctor Dolittle | 1998

Doctor Dolittle filming location: Green Street, San Francisco
Doctor Dolittle location: the Dolittle family apartment: Green Street, San Francisco

There’s not much left of the Hugh Lofting stories apart from the talking animals, but at least there are no musical numbers this time.

The story is set and largely filmed in San Francisco, where the Dolittle family lives in the swanky Pacific Heights apartment block at 2100 Green Street on the corner of Webster Street.

‘Camp Hawkeye’, the summer camp to which the Dolittle kids are sent, is at Big Bear Lake, a resort about 25 miles northeast of San Bernardino in Southern California.

Doctor Dolittle filming location: Union Street, San Francisco
Doctor Dolittle location: the 'Pacific Heights Medical' clinic: Union Street, San Francisco

I’m not sure why Dolittle drives to the clinic where he works. The ‘Pacific Heights Medical’ practice is just a block north, 2107 Union Street at Webster.

The villain, of course, is a giant conglomerate company planning to take over the clinic, and it’s on the terrace at the now gone Gabbiano’s Restaurant that Dolittle hears pigeons talking as company boss Calloway (Peter Boyle) pitches the details of his buy out. The restaurant stood at 1 Ferry Plaza on the waterfront terrace of the Ferry Building at the foot of Market Street, which has since undergone several incarnations.

Doctor Dolittle filming location: Haight Street, San Francisco
Doctor Dolittle location: Lucky gets a check-up at Dr Fish's veterinarian practise: Haight Street, San Francisco

After rescuing Lucky the dog from the pound, Dolittle takes him for a check-up by vet Dr Fish (Jeffrey Tambor) at his practise, 802 Haight Street on the corner of Steiner Street towards Buena Vista Park.

Doctor Dolittle filming location: Green Street, San Francisco
Doctor Dolittle location: Dolittle attends to the depressed tiger: Coit Street, Telegraph Hill, San Francisco

Once word of Dolittle’s ability gets out among the animal community, he’s called out to attend to a suicidal tiger atop Coit Tower, 1 Telegraph Hill Boulevard on Telegraph Hill.

The 210-foot Coit Tower, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, was built in 1933 using a bequest from Lillie Hitchcock Coit to 'beautify the city'. The legend has it that Coit was somewhat taken with with the San Francisco firefighting department and the tower was designed to resemble the nozzle of a fire hose.

Its phallic appearance lead to Alfred Hitchcock mischievously using it in his 1958 masterpiece Vertigo, as the landmark Madeleine (Kim Novak) uses to locate the apartment of Scottie (James Stewart).

With the help of some elaborate matte painting, the tower's art deco frontage became the entrance to Susan Hayward's mansion in 1957 musical Pal Joey.

Dolittle returns the tiger to ‘Blossom’s Magic Circus’ at Aquatic Park on Beach Street at the foot of Larkin Street in North Beach (there’s a brief glimpse of the two-headed Pushme-Pullyou).

Doctor Dolittle (1998) filming location: Eastern Star Home, now the Archer School for Girls, Brentwood, Los Angeles
Doctor Dolittle (1998) filming location: Dolittle is briefly incarcerated in the psychiatric institute: Archer School for Girls, Brentwood, Los Angeles

Dolittle is briefly detained in a psychiatric institute until he's willing to admit that he's delusional. You might recognise this facility, run by Blaine (Paul Giamatti), as the old Eastern Star Home, which has since become the Archer School for Girls, 11725 Sunset Boulevard, in Brentwood, West Los Angeles, which became the ‘Mar Vista Rest Home’ in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown.