Monday, July 15, 2013

Hitchcock on location: Vertigo

Today's post examines the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock classic, "Vertigo." Called a "Tortured Valentine" to San Francisco by authors Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal, "Vertigo" deals with a number of strange themes that can get even stranger, depending upon how you decide to interpret the narrative.

Our first comparison scene takes place at the Brocklebank Apartments. Troubled detective "Scottie" Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart) is following a woman who he believes to be Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak), the suicidal wife of the friend who hired him.

On my first trip to San Francisco in February 2001, I made it a point to find as many locations from the film as I could. Here is what the Brocklebank Apartments looked like at that time:

Scottie follows Madeleine right past the Fairmont Hotel, which the audience quickly glimpses on the left:

The Fairmont is still thriving today:

The story begins to get a little wacky (and a bit difficult to swallow) as Madeleine pulls up to the Mission Dolores near the Castro:

The same angle, circa 2001:

Here's Madeleine (Kim Novak) heading towards the Mission:

Scottie follows her inside:

How the interior looks today:

Scottie continues onward, as Madeleine enters the cemetery, where she visits the gravestone of Carlotta Valdes, a woman who had committed suicide many years before.

Different angle, but same background:

Madeleine looking at the headstones:

What I believe to be an identical angle:

Next up is the Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum, where Madeleine will sit in front of Carlotta's portrait all afternoon. Yes...I do think this part of the story is a bit flawed. Hitch tries so hard to make us believe what Scottie falls for, but it just seems too contrived, and too much time is spent explaining it.

The same angle from 2001:

Two more 1958 vs. 2001 shots of the museum:

Still in her Carlotta dream-state, Madeleine leads Scottie over to the Fort Point entrance near the Golden Gate Bridge:

She plays with her Carlotta-inspired bouquet. He loves me...he loves me not...then leaps into the water.

Scottie saves her just in time.

In 2001, I photographed the same area.

And was fortunate enough to get somebody nearby to take my photo in the same place.

More "Vertigo" locales tomorrow!

See more San Francisco photos on my San Francisco web page.


K. Martinez said...

Vertigo along with Notorious is tied for my favorite Hitchcock film.

You're doing a fantastic job covering the Hitchcock locations. Love your "then and now" comparisons. The very last shot of the Golden Gate is beautiful! Nice update.

Major Pepperidge said...

Almost all of Hitchcock's films are nice to look at, but Vertigo is particularly beautifully shot. The scene where Madeleine jumps into the bay is just a gorgeous shot.

Unknown said...

The portrait of Carlotta is "lost." Years ago, I met a man who had that portrait! It had been cut from its frame and he purchased it from a backlot sale from someone who apparently didn't know its value. I remember it in his living room in Hollywood. Wow. That was a real trip when he explained to me how he acquired it. I've lost touch with him, unfortunately...