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
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