As seen on my Top 30 Favorite Films list, Vertigo ranked pretty high. It’s a detective story, a ghost story, and a psychological tale of obsession. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s many masterpieces. My favorite of his. So while I was checking out San Francisco, I explored a lot of places where it was filmed.
When visiting movie locations, it’s neat to see how they’ve changed over time. (Vertigo was filmed in 1957.) You can also learn a lot how the director chose his or her shots. Besides, anywhere Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart stood is like holy ground to me.
Golden Gate Bridge
Wow. It’s no wonder why Hitchcock chose this shot. I thought it was enhanced to look as majestic as it does, but it’s just as amazing a view in real life. This is where Scottie saves Madeleine when she jumps into the bay. No one will be jumping anymore. There’s now a gate in the way. Other than that, it looks exactly the same. Well… the clouds have moved. That’s about it. This is also where the Tanner family drove across the bridge (Full House) and the giant octopus attacked it (It Came From Beneath the Sea). Imagine that all happening at the same time. Goodbye Tanners.
That says it all. If you pan to the right a bit, Coit tower is in the background, which Madeliene says she used as a landmark to finding his house. The house looks exactly the same, except for a big bush in the way, and a security camera. Have the owners got that many people knocking on their door for Scottie?
This is the hotel where Scottie literally stalks Judy to her room. And what do you know? They renamed it the Hotel Vertigo!
Palace of the Legion of Honor
This is the art museum where Scottie follows Madeliene. It looks bigger on the outside. Still there’s a lot of excellent work in there, and a well preserved mummy.
I didn’t expect to see the painting of Carlotta, since it was just a movie prop, but there was a very informative book in the gift shop called “Footsteps in the Fog” which retraces all of of Hitchock’s filming locations in the San Francisco area. Apparently no one knows the exact room where Carlotta’s painting was, but I’m pretty sure I found it. Judge for yourself.
The church where Scottie follows Madeliene.
Recreating this shot wasn’t easy, because there’s a tree in the way.
Scottie follows Madeliene through the church to the cemetery where she gazes at the grave of Carlotta before wandering off. The gravestone was a movie prop, so there’s nothing there. In order to find the location, I had to match up the gravestones in the background. There’s a missing cross section on the tall one (green arrow), but I’d say that’s the spot.
I can see why Hitchock chose to put the grave here. It’s right in the middle of the cemetery. Here’s the opposite angle, when Scottie comes to look at the grave.
The cemetery has changed a lot! The walkways are newly paved and the foliage is different. Here’s the same shot again, but I moved closer so you can see the cross (green arrow). The damn tree was in the way.
Scottie and Madeliene supposedly go to Muir Woods, but it was actually filmed in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. So technically, I’m not at the real filming location, but c’mon! That looks like the same sliced tree.