San Francisco is one big movie location – so many films have been made there – from The Hulk to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner to the car chase in Bullit. The Pacific Heights neighbourhood hosted Mrs Doubtfire and, er, Pacific Heights. The early Broadway stage-door scene in All About Eve was shot at the Curran Theatre in Geary Street in San Francisco 's less than salubrious Tenderloin area. And there are way too many scenes in Vertigo to mention – from Mission Dolores church to the Golden Gate bridge.
But my most thrilling holiday movie moment took place 60 miles north of the city at the tiny hamlet of Bodega Bay, the setting of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 masterpiece The Birds. I called into a gift shop near the Tides Inn (which also features in the film, though now totally transformed into deli, gift shop and restaurant) to ask directions to 'the centre of town' as seen in the movie. I was told by the woman in the shop: 'This is where she gets in the boat, the school is four miles inland!' I'd clearly not been the first fan of The Birds to call in to ask directions!
Inland was the classically spooky schoolhouse (very Edward Hopper) perched high on a hill, but no neighbouring jungle gym next door where the crows once perched. It was like being transported into the film and I half expected Tippi Hedren to appear at any moment. I never found the centre of town – there is no town – just cinema, the magic of.
North of San Francisco, take the coast road for the views.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ycyg6n5
For all Hitchcock freaks!
Santa Rosa lies north of the Golden Gate Bridge about 1.15 hours up on the 101 FWY. It is the city where Hitchcock filmed his personal favourite, "Shadow of a Doubt" (1942) with, among others, Joseph Cotten in an against-type villainous role.
Those of us familiar with the film (and those who aren't, see it!) will recall the white family house where a lot of the action takes place, and it can be found on MacDonald Street, in the historic district. It basically looks like the same house even now, though the back of the house where young Charlie falls on the outside steps, has a high white fence surrounding the garden, to stop film buffs encroaching on the owners' privacy.
There are many location shoots one can spot in Santa Rosa, including the old train station (no longer in use) where the infamous Uncle Charlie arrives and departs. Unfortunately, the old library and also the "Till Two" bar are no longer there, but there's enough for any Hitchcock fan to delight in finding numerous locations where The Great Man shot his personal favourite film.
Just up the street from the house is a huge mansion where "Polyanna" (with Hayley Mills) was shot.
Do yourself a favor if you go: pick up a copy of "Footsteps in the Fog," a wonderful book that gives information on all Hitchcock's location shoots in northern California. Also, if you drive out to the coast and south about an hour, you'll find the small town of Bodega Bay, and the Hamlet of Bodega (about 4 miles inland), where Hitch shot "The Birds" in 1963. The famous "Tides" resturant is still there, though it's been modified quite a bit. The old white schoolhouse still looks the same, and can be found in Bodega, inland. Enjoy!
Santa Rosa: North on 101 FWY about 1 1/4 hours from Golden gate Bridge in San Francisco. MacDonald Street is in Historic District; train station is at back of shopping mall, a few blocks west of 101 FWY.
A great film by Judy Irving, a Sundance and Emmy Award winning filmmaker. It's about, well, the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill. They are cherry-headed conures, also known as red-masked parakeets, an indigenous species from Peru. They have been also spotted farther east on Embarcadero Plaza.
Get a 360º view of San Francisco hills and neighbourhoods, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It beats going to the top floor of a skyscraper.
Look at Coit Tower's vibrant frescos of life in California during the 1930s Great Depression that was commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to employ local artists. Then walk down the Filbert Steps. Telegraph Hill is so steep that Filbert St. is a stairway, part of it is still wooden. It has a quasi-park feel with homes clinging to the side of Telegraph Hill. You might want to watch the documentary film, "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill."
Halfway down at 1360 Montgomery St. is an Art Deco apartment building that was used as Lauren Bacall's home in the 1947 Humphrey Bogart movie, "Dark Passage."
When you reach the bottom of the Filbert Steps, you can walk up the Greenwich Steps back to Coit Tower or continue walking through Levi’s Plaza (Levi Strauss HQ) to the Embarcadero and walk, or ride a Muni F/Market-Embarcadero streetcar, to the Ferry Building or Fisherman's Wharf.
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94133
1 (415) 362-0808
Walk to the top of Telegraph Hill or ride Muni #39 Coit bus.
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