Reel SF

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

San Francisco movie locations from classic films

Vertigo - Nervous Breakdown

  Following his visit to Madeleine's grave Scottie suffers a nightmare, causing him to spiral into a state of melancholia requiring treatment at a sanatorium.

Then ...  To usher in the nightmare scene a night vista is briefly shown with SP and Mobilgas neon signs glowing in the distance.  This was filmed looking east from the Top O' The Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel (map).

... a 1950s archival photo ...  We get a better look from the photograph below taken from the same spot.  The 32 story Russ Building, at that time the tallest office building in San Francisco, is over to the right and the Bay Bridge is seen crossing over to Yerba Buena Island.

... and Now, the relentless growth of the Financial District has transformed this view.  The tallest skyscrapers now are the Transamerica building at far left and the Bank Of America building right of center - the Russ building is still there, behind it and to the right, and several buildings in the lower foreground are little changed.


  The nightmare scene which followed included special effects by artist John Ferren who also painted the Portrait of Carlotta seen earlier in the Legion Of Honor art museum.


Then ...  Scottie has to spend time recovering in a sanatorium, St. Joseph's Hospital at 355 Buena Vista Avenue East facing Buena Vista Park (map).  Scottie's friend Midge's Karman Ghia is parked out front.

... and Now, the building looks the same today (OK, they moved the mailbox) but is now the Park Hill Condominiums.  Designed by architect John Foley, the six story building was built in 1928 in Spanish Revival style.



  In the sanatorium (the interior scenes were filmed in a Paramount Pictures studio) Midge plays Mozart to help ease him from his catatonic state but it will be months before he can recover and deal with his profound sense of guilt.


Then ...  Scottie's recuperation was represented by Hitchcock with soothing music played over a slow left-to-right panoramic sweep of the city, filmed from Twin Peaks (map).  Tiburon and Angel Island are in the left background, the Buena Vista Park hill is in the center, and that's Market Street at far right (click image to enlarge).

... and Now,  more than half a century later the almost identical view continues to be enjoyed from the popular Twin Peaks vista point.  Coincidentally, the red-roofed sanatorium building can be seen in the panorama, marked below by the arrow (click image to enlarge).

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