'The Last Black Man in San Francisco' Pays Homage to the City’s People and Places

The film captures a gentrifying San Francisco by incorporating many subtle details about the city's past and present.

2 minute read

August 9, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Alamo Square

prochasson frederic / Shutterstock

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez writes about "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" and the many local references scattered throughout the film. "For those who haven’t seen it (shame on you!), the film details the fantastical quest of Jimmie Fails, a character named for the actor, as he works to regain his childhood San Francisco home."

A number of the film’s characters have connections to the city’s political elite. "While the realtor’s first name isn’t Gavin, his last name is definitely Newsom, and he introduces himself as having attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory High School, just like our former mayor and current governor’s father did," writes Rodriguez.

Various musicians, actors, and performers have cameos in the film, including Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys and actor Cooper Chow. And Rodriguez points out that many different parts of the city are highlighted as well:

Many movie-goers spotted actress Thora Birch of "Ghost World" fame as the woman who Jimmie famously tells, "You don’t get to hate San Francisco. You don’t get to hate it unless you love it." What may be less known is what’s behind them when he says the line: Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts High School, [Joey] Talbot’s alma-mater.

Rodriguez also notes that Jimmie’s house is actually in the Mission District, not the Fillmore District. “And the exterior of Mont’s Bayview home was shot on Innes Avenue. Just a week or so after Talbot and crew shot their needed scenes there, big news about the area hit San Francisco — radiation testing at the site was found to have been falsified by Navy contractors.”

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