Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Vertigo - Communing With The Redwoods

  Scottie and Madeleine decide to go 'wandering' together.  They drive to the redwoods, a scene many think was filmed in Muir Woods, 16 miles north of San Francisco.  Not so; they went to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 70 miles south of San Francisco, not very far from director Hitchcock's 200 acre ranch near Scotts Valley.


Then ...  Madeleine's Jaguar enters the bottom of the frame on its way to the redwoods.

...  and Now,  This is Highway 9, 4.8 miles southwest of Skyline Boulevard (map).  It is indeed the way to Big Basin, about 10 miles further on along Highways 9 and 236 (map).  Citysleuth had to rappel down a steep hillside to find a gap in the trees for this matching shot.  A half century of tree growth now hides most of the roadway - check out too how the tiny tree on the sloping horizon right of center, above, has grown, below.


  The park sequence that followed was created by skillfully combining both location and studio footage.  Here's a map of the park (click on it to enlarge) with arrows showing where to find the movie locations described below.


Then ...  At the park they walk to the majestic Father Of The Forest tree, a giant Sequoia Redwood on the Redwood Trail (below, center).  Note its distinctive vertical hook branch some forty feet up on the left side.

...  and Now,  viewed from the same spot today the tree is mostly hidden behind new foreground trees...

...  and Now,  ... but here's a closer view of the old-timer showing the same hook branch.


Then ...  They stand in awe, dwarfed by the ancient giant.  Scottie tells Madeleine the tree is more than 2000 years old, 'always green, ever living'.  Trance-like, she reverts to Carlotta and is disturbed, "knowing I have to die".

...  and Now,  not surprisingly the venerable tree has hardly changed in a mere half century - the bark features still match up.


Then ...  She walks over to a redwood cross-section showing its growth history by date and points out where she was born and where she died.  Spooky.

...  and Now,  the closeup footage above was filmed in the studio but there is a 'Redwood Round' displayed in the park next to the visitor center, below.  It replaced an older round in the 1980's and as we can see, its date markings differ from those in the movie.

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