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Vertigo: A Photo Tour

My wife recently traveled to San Francisco for work and I tagged along for the ride. While she had to spend the better part of two days attending conferences, I decided to embark on a self-guided tour of prominent locations from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Have smartphone with GPS, will travel!

The first Vertigo location I visited was the most impressive — the Misión San Francisco De Asis (popularly known as the “Mission Dolores”), a small church that was built in the late 18th century and whose appearance has remained virtually unchanged over the centuries.

Here’s the exterior as it appears in the film (with Madeleine Elster’s green Jaguar parked out front):
vertigo05

And here’s the same location today:
dolores1

In the film, Scottie Ferguson follows Madeleine through this ornate chapel . . .
FullSizeRender (2)

. . . and into the adjacent cemetery. This is one of the most haunting places I’ve ever been; none of the tombstones date from more recently than the 19th century and the plentiful trees, statues, rose bushes and hazy lighting give the place an ethereal quality well-suited to Hitchcock’s spellbinding aims. As Chris Marker would later put it, “Hitchcock invented nothing.” Here is a shot of the grave of Carlotta Valdes as it appears in the film:
Vertigo2

It took me about five seconds to find the exact location today (note the tombstone of one “John Tobin” in both images):
FullSizeRender (1)

Next I headed over to 1000 Mason St., home of the impressively imposing apartment building where the Elsters lived:
elsters

Then I went to the Empire Hotel where Judy Barton, Madeleine’s alter-ego, resided. It has since been renamed, appropriately enough, the Hotel Vertigo:
hotelvertigo

Finally, as a special Zodiac-themed bonus feature, here’s a photo I snapped of the Transamerica Pyramid:
zodiac

This building is, of course, the subject of the cinema’s greatest fake time-lapse CGI shot:

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

2 responses to “Vertigo: A Photo Tour

  • Jonathan Hourigan

    Done that tour myself and down to the mission. Plus up to Bodega for The Birds too… We Are Not Worthy… Best, Jonathan

  • michaelgloversmith

    Good to hear from you, Jonathan. I did the Mission San Juan Bautista tour myself over a decade ago. That’s more impressive, I think, than any of the SF locations. I still need to get to Bodega.

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