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Vertigo Movie Tour of San Francisco

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palace of the legion of honor

Palace of the Legion of Honor

© 2004 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by permission. golden gate bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point

© Betsy Malloy 1999 Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts

© Betsy Malloy 1999

In 1957, 58-year-old director Alfred Hitchcock, who then had more than 40 films to his credit, filmed his movie Vertigo in San Francisco.

The movie stars James Stewart as Johnny (Scottie) Ferguson, Kim Novak as Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton and the city of San Francisco as itself.

According to Herbert Coleman, Vertigo associate producer, Hitchcock often picked a location and then developed a story to be filmed there. He liked to show a familiar place and introduce a twist of malice. When he first saw San Francisco, he said it would be a good place for a murder mystery, and he chose a French novel, D'Entre les Morts (From Among the Dead). It's a story of deception and obsession, of love lost and regained, and of course, ends with Hitchcock's signature plot twist.

The movie was not well received when it was released in 1958, but it has developed a following. Martin Scorsese is quoted as saying Vertigo is "like being drawn into a very, very beautiful comfortable, almost nightmarish obsession." Classic film expert Brad Lang, says "I still haven't quite come to a conclusion about the film, but regardless of whether you think the film is Hitchcock's masterpiece, or a confusing trip through his twisted psyche, you have to admit that it shows off a lot of San Francisco landmarks."

More: Vertigo sites and how to see them

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