I grew up watching Dennis Richmond explain the world to me every night on Channel 2. The Patty Hearst robbery must have been one of the first breaking stories he covered, as he first went on air in 1976, one of the country's first major-market African-American television news anchors. He kept the Bay Area informed for over three decades, retiring in 2008. Although he's originally from Ohio, he's more San Francisco legend than most natives could ever hope to be, myself included. Suffice to say his inclusion in this film, rather than any old stock footage of a news anchor reporting on the SLA, was a gracious nod to all Bay Areanos, present and past.
I wasn't personally alive in 1976, so while I can't speak to how authentic a portrait this was of the city in that time period, I've seen enough of the aftermath to say 'that sounds about right.' The film is chock-a-block with on-location shots, from the opening in Golden Gate Park's Hippy Hill to the city's beloved sleazoids hanging around Polk Gulch. Minnie even stomps up the Kearny Street steps, which I am quickly learning is used in every third San Francisco movie.
One minor quibble I did have insofar as authenticity goes; and this isn't even specific to San Francisco- in one scene, Minnie partakes in that Great American Rite of Passage, attending a live screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However- I was once a teenage girl, too, and attended (and maybe acted in) my fair share of Rocky Horrors, and I know that the film was first released in 1975. Although midnight screenings of the movie first began attracting costumed fans in New York City in 1976, when Diary is set, it doesn't appear to have spread to the west coast as a cultural phenomenon until the first Los Angeles live cast started in 1977. I could very well be wrong, but I'm going to lean on the side of there not having been any Rocky Horror screenings (at least not as we know them today) to attend in San Francisco in 1976.
Oh, and apropos: if you liked the metallic art deco iris wallpaper in Minnie's bathroom, you can buy it at Flavor Paper.
Authenticity: 10/10- Dennis Richmond serves you an It's-It during a Spiders game at the Cow Palace.
This movie makes me happier than: An 8-track of Iggy Pop, a 6-pack of Billy Beer, and a handful of 'ludes.
Overall: 10/10- go fucking see it already!
References and Further Reading
Diary of a Teenage Girl on Wikipedia
Buy the book from Powell's or from your locally-owned independent book or comic store.
While you're reading about San Francisco in the 1970s, check out Tales of the City and Season of the Witch