Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Vertigo - Madeleine's Inquest and Grave Site

  An inquest is held at the San Juan Bautista mission into the death of Madeleine Elster.

Then ...  The attendees assemble at the inquest, held at the Mission San Juan Bautista Plaza Hall (map), next to the Plaza Stables.

... and Now,  the Plaza Hall today has a new coat of paint, the only significant change.


  At the inquest the jury finds that Madeleine committed suicide while of unsound mind but not before the coroner (Henry Jones) subjects Scottie to a scathing excoriation, making no attempt to hide his contempt for his inability to prevent Madeleine's fatal jump.  This scene was filmed on a Paramount Studio set which was carefully constructed to mimic the actual Plaza Hall interior.


  Afterwards, Scottie visits Madeleine's grave.  This was filmed in Colma, just south of San Francisco, in the East Side Gardens of the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park at 1370 El Camino Real (map).

Then ...  As he approaches the gravesite he walks past a 19th century memorial cross.

... and Now,  the cross is still there in section 'I' at the cemetery (this is a useful marker for those readers who may want to visit the site).


Then ...  He stands, bereft, in front of her gravestone.  We can only guess at the thoughts swirling around inside his head.

... and Now,  not surprisingly the gravestones seen in the movie view are still there; Madeleine's of course is not - it had been placed in the bottom left corner of this recent picture.


  A little trivia - most San Franciscans and many visitors have seen the Beach Blanket Babylon musical revue show in North Beach.  It turns out that Steve Silver, the creator of that venerable show, is buried very close to Madeleine's grave, in the adjacent section 'F'.  Here's his gravestone.

Experiment In Terror - Kelly picks up Toby

  Kelly's teenage sister Toby (Stefanie Powers) has slept over at a friend's house.  Kelly drives there to pick them up to take them to school.

Then ...  She drives the short distance up Glenbrook Ave from her home on St Germain Ave and stops outside the friend's house at 206 Palo Alto Avenue alongside a row of three sidewalk trees (map).

... and Now,  those trees are still there today, now with sturdy 50 year old trunks.  The house is there too but the brick walls have been refinished.


Then ...  Toby and her friend exit the side gate of No. 206.  The window on the left is the same one as the window at lower right of the 'Then' picture above.  The view looks to the east towards the Bay Bridge and the city's Financial District.

... until recently ...  the gate and side wall were subsequently remodelled.  The photo below, taken in 2007, shows how the original wall, clearly visible, had been extended upward.

... and Now,  below is the side wall as it looks today - the brick has been covered over with a stone finishand a new gate installed.  The higher wall not only blocks the east view but so too does the large house built next door.

... the view east today ...  if you could peep over the gate and the house next door wasn't there this is how the view east would look now.  Compare it with the way it was behind Toby in the Then picture above


Then ...  As Toby approaches her sister's car the view down Palo Alto Avenue shows those same three trees.

... and Now,  the same view, the same trees.

The House On Telegraph Hill - Denouement

  The final scenes take place inside the house, filmed on a Twentieth Century Fox soundstage.

  Victoria discovers newspaper clippings revealing that  her Aunt Sophie had died several days after she had received telegram notification from Alan of the death.  She realizes he must have sent the telegram knowing he was about to kill her.  Now she really is convinced he is after the inheritance and plans to kill her and her son Chris, too.

  When Alan brings orange juices at bedtime she switches the glasses.


  Alan realizes his plan to poison his wife has backfired.  He rushes to the housekeeper Margaret for help and we learn they are lovers - she is in on the plan.  But Margaret turns on him and refuses to call a doctor because he had wanted to include young Chris in his murder scheme.  Never underestimate the maternal instinct.


  And so justice is served as the poison does its job.  The final frames show Victoria and Marc carrying the sleeping Chris away presumably to a new beginning for them all.

The Lady From Shanghai - Whaler's Cove, Sausalito

  After leaving Acapulco Elsa's yacht Circe drops anchor off Whaler's Cove in Sausalito, a small town on the edge of San Francisco Bay just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County.  Below is a 1937 photo of the cove, taken in the year the bridge was inaugurated.


Then ...  A small tender brings Elsa in to shore.  The San Francisco skyline, the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz Island can be seen in the distance.

... and Now,  the recent photo below reveals only skeletal remains of the pier.


Then ...  As the tender coasts in we see Sausalito on the left and Angel Island on the right with Belvedere and Tiburon between them (click the image to enlarge).

... and Now,  the same view today. (click the image to enlarge).


Then ...  Elsa is helped onto the pier.  Behind her is a boardwalk and beyond that the picturesque town of Sausalito climbs up the hillside.

... and Now,  there are many newer buildings crowded onto the hillside but some of them are still recognizable, including the one on the boardwalk with the twin turrets.


Then ...  O'Hara is waiting for Elsa on the pier.  In the background is the Nunes Bros. boatyard where, incidentally, the yacht Circe (Errol Flynn's yacht Zaca) was built.

... and Now,  the boatyard has succumbed to apartment buildings, as has most of the adjacent shoreline.

... in 1929 ...  This vintage photo shows the Zaca being built at Nunes Bros. boatyard. 

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