"The Presidio of San Francisco", now a former military base, was originally called "The Royal Fortress of Saint Francis" and was also known as "El Presidio Real de San Francisco". The facility is now closed and exists mostly as a park in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. "The Presidio" is located on the northern part of the San Francisco Peninsula in San Francisco, California.
The shot of the aircraft carrier coming into San Francisco Bay at the beginning of the movie was completely unplanned. The entire crew were at the time on the Presidio's parade field, along with hundreds of off duty soldier, filming a staged parade. When director Hyams saw the fleet coming in, he stopped filming of the parade to get a shot of the ships going past. In the final cut of the movie only a few seconds of the parade are shown at the beginning, and the rest of the day's shoot was left on the proverbial cutting room floor.
Was set to go into production in 1986 with Lee Marvin and Jeff Bridges starring, but Marvin fell ill and died the same year. Gene Hackman was approached to replace Marvin, but turned it down. When Bridges left the project, the film was put on hold.
Mark Harmon's veteran Marine character of Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the later television series NCIS (2003) has some similarities with his former army military police character of Jay Austin in this movie. Both characters are former military officers who have changed-over to being police detectives.
The film's director Peter Hyams was also the movie's cinematographer, the picture being a rare instance in a major motion picture of one person performing both these duties. Hyams though, has performed both roles on a number of movies.
Screenwriter Larry Ferguson was doing rewrites on the film when Paramount and producer Don Simpson asked him to come aboard " Beverly Hills Cop II" for rewrites. The script for this film was put on hold.
The movie re-teamed actor Sean Connery with Paramount Pictures which Connery just the previous year had won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award (Oscar) for The Untouchables (1987) for that studio. The Presidio (1988) was Connery's very next film after that movie, but this time, Connery had the lead role, and again was in the forces, not as a policeman this time, but as a military man.
Many movie posters for this film featured a long text preamble that read: "THE PRESIDIO ARMY BASE, SAN FRANCISCO. When a landmark of historic tradition becomes the scene of a shocking murder, a military commander and a street-tough cop are forced into action... against the killer, the mysterious past, and each other".