By Larry Clinton, Sausalito Historical Society
Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, with its famous scene in the Trident, was originally supposed to be filmed in New York.
The 1972 film is based on Allen’s 1969 Broadway play, which was set in Manhattan. But a film workers’ strike in New York when shooting was scheduled to begin brought it to San Francisco. Allen's home became North Beach instead of Greenwich Village.
Woody plays a recently divorced film critic, Allan Felix, who is urged to begin dating again by his best friend and his best friend's wife. Allan identifies with the movie Casablanca and the character Rick Blaine as played by Humphrey Bogart. The film include clips from Casablanca and ghost-like appearances of Bogart (Jerry Lacy) giving advice on how to treat women. It was directed by Herbert Ross, which is unusual for Allen, who usually directs his own written work. It was also the first film to pair Woody Allen and Diane Keaton.
At one point, Allan’s friend, played by Tony Roberts, takes him to the Trident, trying to fix him up with a girl. Together, the actors stroll through the restaurant and out onto the deck. As the camera follows them, you can see the original Trident decor in its entirety. Roberts is best known for his collaborations with Woody Allen, including both the Broadway and film versions of Play It Again, Sam, Annie Hall, Radio Days, Stardust Memories, Hannah and Her Sisters, and A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.
The waterfront location used in Play it Again, Sam was known as the Yacht Dock when it was purchased by Frank Werber, manager of the Kingston Trio, in 1960. But according to thetrident.net/history.html, in 1966, “the Beat Generation had given way to the ‘60s hippie movement, and the club underwent major groovification and a name change to The Trident – a musical entertainment venue, natural foods restaurant and the place to hang out.
“In those free-thinking times, the new hippie subculture valued living in harmony with nature, artistic experimentation – particularly in music and the visual arts – and the expansion of the mind through various means. The Trident quickly became a gathering place for like-minded locals and celebrities from around the world, and was known for its its laid-back vibe, healthy, organic cuisine, creative cocktails, comely waitresses, artistic decor, stellar views and its many famous patrons. Janis Joplin (a regular with her own table), Jerry Garcia, Joan Baez, Clint Eastwood, Bill Cosby and the Smothers Brothers were often on the scene, and Bill Graham was a frequent patron – most notably hosting parties at the restaurant for the Rolling Stones during their two Bay Area concerts in the 1970s.”
Current owner Bob Freeman changed the name of the place to Horizons for several years, but eventually restored some of the original décor – including a psychedelic ceiling mural ─ and brought back the Trident name.