“Nice guy” stalking

It has to be the quintessential San Francisco film locations movie and it’s been covered by a lot more devoted and accurate film location experts than myself, but last Sunday I felt like doing some more location touring of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 classic ‘Vertigo’ after watching it recently on Turner Classic Movies. The film commentator labeled it the best movie ever made. I could take point with that, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch. So put on your stalkings and we’ll follow along with Jimmy Stewart as he trails Kim Novak through Downtown San Francisco.

VertigoPacUnionuseWe’ll start where John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) begins to stalk Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak) to try to find what makes her tick. Scottie watches her on Mason Street as she leaves her hotel. Behind him is the Pacific Union Club and in the far background the north tower of Grace Cathedral. Work that began in 1928 on the church had stopped when this movie scene was shot and the south tower was not finished. In 1960 work resumed on the church and the south tower is visible in my picture.

VertigoJimmyuse  VertigoBrocklebankuse Madeleine leaves the Brocklebank Apartments in her green Jaguar.

VertigoFairmontuseScottie watches her as she drives past him toward the Mark Hopkins Hotel. The Fairmont Hotel is on the left.

VertigoCalifStturnuseMadeleine turns left onto California Street. There apparently was road or cable car line work being done at this intersection at the time.

VertigoBushuseScottie follows her down Bush Street toward Grant Ave. this is just a little down from where the roof of the Stockton Tunnel is and just east of Burritt Alley where Miles Archer was bumped off by Brigid O’Shaughnessy in the Maltese Falcon.

VertigoGrantuseThey turned right onto Grant Ave. and pass Sutter Street toward Post. The White House Department Store sign can be seen on the left in the movie image.

VertigoalleyturnuseHitchcock gets a little tricky here as Madeleine turns left into what will turn into an alley in the next scene but is only a small driveway in reality.

VertigoalleyrurntwouseThis was where Kim, I mean, Madeleine turned in, but the next scene puts us in Claude Lane several blocks north from here.

VertigoclaudeuseMadeline enters the back of an old brick building in Claude Lane followed by Scottie. I used the two arched entrances of the white building seen in the film on the right with the Margaret O’Leary sign today to determine where they entered across the alley from it.

Vertigoclaudealley2useNow, here’s where it got to be more fun; to try to find evidence of the exact spot Madeline left the alley into a flower shop followed by Scottie. You can see three arched openings on the brick building in the movie. The one on the left is the doorway where Madeleine and Scottie entered into the flower shop which was filmed in a different location. The three openings have been bricked over but the doorway they went through is visible on the far left next to the blue divider. The second brick doorway was behind the where the orange chairs are, the smaller window on the far right in the film image was behind where the first painted blue flower is. Although, it was fun to visit this spot, I imagine hundreds of other people got here long before I did!

Vertigoclaudealley3useScottie leaves Claude Lane bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. Oh, wait, that was from another Kim Novak movie set in San Francisco!


“Happy Hour” (For Adrianne)

Funny how “Happy Hour” gets happier as it progresses! I took a late afternoon, early evening “Happy Hour” visit to some of the local watering holes in the Chinatown – North Beach area yesterday with my brother Kevin. We visited some clubs with interesting pasts.

HappyRed'suseFirst stop, Red’s Place on Jackson Street, the oldest bar in Chinatown. I was lucky to find a vintage picture on the internet looking down Jackson Street from where Red’s is to get a match up, although, I had to stand closer to the middle of the street, (not a good idea in Chinatown) to get the Bay Bridge in today.

HappyVesuviosuseNext we stopped at the Vesuvio Cafe on Columbus in North Beach. This used to be one of my favorite hang outs in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The vintage picture is of Henri Lenoir, the owner of Vesuvio’s taken during the mid 1960’s  (Collector’s Weekly)

Vesuviosgirls Kevin sure was a hit with all of the pretty girls at Vesuvio’s. When he said, “Why don’t you girls take a picture with my brother now?” they all got up and walked out!

HappyCLights1 HappyCLights2 In 1965 Robbie Robertson, Mike McClure, Bob Dylan, and Alan Ginsberg posed near the City Lights Books side entrance in what is now called Jack Kerouac Alley between Vesuvio’s and City Lights. A girl named Adrianne, who was the perfect girl to meet at Vesuvio’s, a place for poets and dreamers, was kind enough to pose in the same spot for us.

HappyMonasuseThe Explore North Beach website reads that 440 Broadway was a lesbian and male impersonator nightclub popular during World War Two called Mona’s. From their website, “Mona’s flourished during World War Two and the Korean War. It was a favorite with lesbians but even with servicemen as it was not off-limits.” The Cosmo Bar and Lounge now occupies the spot.

HappystartrekuseOne of the places we passed but didn’t go in was the Saloon on Grant Avenue, reputed to be San Francisco’s oldest bar. It’s usually too crowded to get a seat. In 1986 a scene from Star Trek lV: The Voyage Home with “Sulu”, “Scotty”, and “Bones” was filmed here.

HappySniperuseWe didn’t go in the old Paper Doll Club either. In the 1952 film ‘The Sniper’ Arthur Franz shoots an entertainer who works at the club with a scope rifle causing her to crash back into her own marquee before dying. I guess it wasn’t “Happy Hour” for her! During the 1980’s and 1990’s I spent a lot of time here when it had been remodeled and was called ‘Silhouettes’ but it’s been closed up and for lease for some time now.

HappytheMarkuse Finally, I ended up in the “Weepers Corner” at sunset at the Top of the Mark, crying about all of the money I spent. I’ve mentioned in earlier posts the interesting origin of “Weepers Corner”. During World War Two, wives, lovers, siblings, and friends would sit in this corner of “The Mark” and watch loved ones sail away under the Golden Gate Bridge to the Pacific Theaters of the war. Many, many of them never returned.


Segue to the 1970’s

When we last stepped into the WABAC Machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman we traveled back to the 1980’s. That doesn’t seem that far back to me, I think I’m still wearing some of the clothes I bought back then. Today we’ll take one step farther back to the 1970’s. (Vintage photos / San Francisco, Minerva SA)

70'scableturntableuse Long queues for the Powell and Market Street cable cars weren’t a reality yet in the 70’s.

70sviallancourtuse“sfinfilm.com, the blog that dares to use the Vaillancourt Fountain for a setting.”  This fountain hasn’t gotten any more attractive since the 1970’s, especially now that the water has been turned off due to the long California drought.

70'sCCarredo California and Powell Streets is the only spot where the California and Powell-Hyde-Bay cable car lines cross paths. The cone shaped structure on the corner signals stop and go for the cars when they reach the intersection at the same time. .

70'sCTownuseThere used to be a Wax museum in Chinatown. This would later be a McDonald’s in the 1990’s.

70scrosswalkusePost and Stockton Streets at Union Square: We need more crosswalk cops today!

70'sCalifStuseA close up look down California Street from Nob Hill in the 70’s and today: This is one of the most photographed views in San Francisco.