San Francisco in Cinema: Vertigo

Union Street and Calhoun Terrace.
Detail I
Detail II

Mission Dolores is one of many locations around town lusciously photographed in Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece, Vertigo, considered by many to be the ultimate San Francisco movie. Vertigo is about, among other things, the hypnotic power that San Francisco's mythical past has over its present day inhabitants. This film is one of Hitchcock's best and most analyzed, and was recently restored. Jimmy Stewart is Scottie Ferguson, a retired police detective stricken with fear of heights. When he meets the mysterious Kim Novak, Stewart races to his destiny. Barbara Bel Geddes is the sensible working woman, Midge Wood. Midge helps Scottie make sense of it all at her place on Telegraph Hill. Her address is never stated but because of the exact Russian Hill backdrop and attendant exterior shots at Union and Calhoun, it could only be 296 Union Street. When Scottie tails Novak, a client's wife, he follows her into Podesta Baldocchi on Grant Avenue through a side entrance on Claude Lane. (Claude Lane is a few blocks away from the Baldocchi location, but not in the movies!) The "Argosy Book Shop" is based on the Argonaut Book Shop on Sutter Street. Vertigo made its public debut on May 9, 1958 at the Stage Door Theatre, 420 Mason Street.

More Vertigo Locations:
Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park
Brocklebank Apartments, 1000 Mason Street (Kim Novak residence)
900 Lombard Street (Jimmy Stewart residence)
Presidio Blvd. (Jimmy Stewart drive time)
Fort Point (Kim Novak water rescue)
York Hotel, 940 Sutter Street ("The Empire Hotel")
351 Buena Vista Avenue East ("Park Hill Sanitarium")
Ernie's, 847 Montgomery Street ("Essex Supper Club")
Henry J. Fortmann Mansion, Eddy and Gough Streets, demolished ("McKittrick Hotel")
Ransohoff's, 259 Post Street (defunct)
Russ Building (cityscapes)
Pacific Union Club (Jimmy Stewart drive time)
Fairmont Hotel (Jimmy Stewart drive time)
Macintosh Swiss Chocolates (Argosy Book Shop atmosphere)
View from Twin Peaks
Union Square
Coit Tower
Palace of Fine Arts
Top of the Mark (mentioned but not seen)
Portals of the Past (mentioned but not seen)
War Memorial Opera House (mentioned but not seen)

EXTRA! Because Vertigo is among the best and most celebrated films in cinema history, its mystique is well documented. In addition to his own, Mister SF's favorite online Vertigo guides are those at Basic Hip and Widescreen Cinema.

More about Vertigo (IMDB)

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