Monday 23 July 2007

Vertigo: Haunted Locations - Part One

I recently visited San Francisco in pursuit of my obsession with Hitchcock's Vertigo. I spent two weeks methodically visiting surviving locations from the film. What follows is the first part of a kind of photographic field report of that visit.

This is the Brocklebank Apartments at 1000 Mason and Sacramento, which is home to Madeleine Elster, and is where Scottie begins to follow her green Jaguar.

After following Madeleine through San Francisco she is seen parking her green Jaguar in a dark alley and disappearing through a door. This turns out to be the rear entrance to the Podesta Baldocchi flowershop. Scottie follows her into the alley, enters the back door and spies on her in the flowershop. This location was at Claude Lane, which is a small lane connecting Bush and Sutter Streets in San Francisco.

Despite being the location for some upmarket boutiques and restaurants, Claude Lane retains many of the strange elements visible from the original film, particularly early in the morning when it is quiet. Unfortunately the beautiful Podesta Baldocchi flowershop exists in name only, as the charmless internet flower warehouse, which was only discovered after a number of fruitless treks accross the city, testified.

Scottie then follows Madeleine to the Mission Dolores in San Francisco. This is the oldest building in San Francisco, and retains pretty much everything seen in the film.

Scottie follows Madeleine to the beautiful old cemetry at the rear of the Mission, and in an extraordinarily dreamlike sequence observes her placing flowers on the grave of Carlotta Valdes. The cemetry has not changed dramatically since Hitchcock filmed here, and offers a very powerful touchstone to the film.

Scottie then follows Madeleine to the California Palace of the Legion of Honour art gallery, where he watches her sitting in front of the portrait of Carlotta Valdes.

Unfortunately Madeleine wasn't there when I visited, and nor was the portrait of Carlotta.


  1. Thanks for this great tour- what a wonderful idea! Did you go the the bridge scenario?

  2. Thanks. I will do this today as well.