Hitchcock’s Bay Area
I love the Bay Area. I love the Edwardian painted ladies by Alamo Park. I love the green heaven that is Marin. I love the twisting ribbon of Highway 1 cleaving its path down the craggy Northern Californian coast. I always get a little excited when I see glimpses of recognizable Bay Area landmarks on the big screen. It’s almost like seeing a friend, and I tend to turn into a shameless teeny bopper. It is this deep geographic affection that ultimately is why I think Hitchcock’s films appeal to me so much. He uses movies to be the Bay Area’s ultimate fan boy – a shout out artist, if you will. The locations are a part of the story just as much as the characters. Through Hitchcock’s lens San Francisco is an ageless beauty, draped in fog and mystery- so get your popcorn and turn off your phone and prepare yourself to be swept up in intrigue and wowed with how beautiful the Bay is.
Hitchcock’s first American picture is a take-no-prisoners mind fuck. Classically gothic the movie starts with the death of Rebecca, Maxim de Winter’s first wife. Despite her death, she remains a larger than life figure to de Winter, his new wife, and their housekeeper. I really want to blow the ending for you, but I am going to play nice. Take my word though, it’s good. Also! The film takes place in Cornwall, but a careful scan of the scenery reveals that no, that’s not England, it’s Point Lobos State Reserve.
Based on the Francis Iles novel Before The Fact, this romantic psychological thriller is Hitchcock gold. Starring Cary Grant as a charming playboy who runs off with a shy spinster when things go awry! She begins to fear that he is trying to murder her and the suspense grows. The movie takes place at Tangmere-by-the-Sea in England but is actually shot in Big Sur- the scenes had to be carefully shot as not to catch the Bixby Bridge.
I don’t like to let my life be ruled by fear, but heights are something that makes my little black heartbeat drumming. Thus Hitchcock’s tale of detective Scottie Ferguson’s acrophobia and vertigo and the plot is just as twisty and exciting as Lombard Street. The film is very much a postcard of San Francisco featuring location shots at Mission Dolores, Fort Point, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the legendary Ernie’s Restaurant.
The Birds (1963)
If you have spent any period of time down by Pier 39 in the company of those horrible sea gulls you will have an appreciation of how scary a swarm of them are. Hitchcock played to this avian invasion to maximum creepy affect. In the process of telling the story of murderous birds he wove in shots of Union Square. You can also take a little drive up to Bodega Bay and visit the Tides Warf & Restaurant, which housed people escaping from attacks. It has since been expanded into a hotel, but it’s still there.
Family Plot (1976)
What do you get when you mix a quack psychiatrist, her cab driving PI boyfriend and two serial kidnappers and a missing heir? A very fucking awesome movie. This flick is a little goofier than Hitchcock’s murder mysteries, but it is a fine time. Between missing jewels and smooth criminals you can catch glimpses of the Fairmont Hotel and the Grace Cathedral (called “Saint Anslem’s Cathedral in the movie)
Hitchcock’s psychological thriller “Rebecca” will be playing at the Paramount Theater in Oakland March 11 at 8:00 pm. Grab a date and get classy!