Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Vertigo - Death Plunge

Then ...  Scotttie and Madeleine's visit to Mission San Juan Bautista (map) is introduced by this wonderful shot down the length of the cloisters, taking full advantage of both shadow and light.

... and Now,  the mission is a museum - open to the public and certainly worth a visit - so it's not surprising that time stands still here.


Then ...  The camera swings to the right and reveals two buildings across the plaza - both will be featured in the ensuing action.  Madeleine's Jaguar is parked between them.

... and Now,  here they are in a recent photo.  On the left is the Plaza Hall, on the right the Plaza Stables.


  In the stables Madeleine, trance-like, recalls her past life at the mission.  She mentions a grey horse ...

Then ...  but Scottie spies a carved wooden horse and buggy exhibit behind them.  "Look at this ... here's your grey horse ... there's an answer for everything ... no one possesses you!"

... and Now,  that horse and buggy are still there tucked into a corner in the stables.


Then ...  Madeleine pulls away from Scottie and runs back across the plaza towards the mission.  "It's too late", she says and asks him to let her go into the church alone.  This shot (below) was filmed on a set to optimize lighting and sound.

... and Now,  here's the real cloisters.  As you can see, they did a heck of a job recreating it.


Then ...  As she walks to the church she looks up at the tower and with a sudden sense of dread he realizes her intention.

... and Now,  as explained in the previous location this tower doesn't exist - the original was removed in 1949 - the tower above was added as a matte painting.  Below is a recent photo of the mission showing the current bell tower, on the right.


Then ...  He rushes after her into the church and desperately looks around.

... and Now,  surprisingly, the church has seen several alterations since 1958.  The ceiling beams are gone and the side wall archways, which had been filled in after the 1906 earthquake, have been opened up again.  But the altar and altarpiece behind it look the same.


Then ...  In the church, he first looks to his right towards this arched doorway ...

Then ...  then he looks to his left and through another doorway sees Madeleine running up a set of stairs leading up the bell tower.

... and Now,  but both shots above are the same doorway! For the one immediately above, a set of stairs were added in.  Here it is below, just inside and to the left of the church entrance, now with added frescoed touches but still with the identical framed artwork and set of pots.


  He tries desperately to catch up with Madeleine as she scales the steep steps (filmed on an elaborate studio set) but his acrophobia kicks in and an overwhelming feeling of vertigo stops him in his tracks just below the trap door at the top of the tower ...

  ... and he can only watch, mortified, immobilised, as she plunges to her death.

Click in this box to search this site ...