Considering the many movies shot in San Francisco—hey there, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Rock, and the rest of you—we have to hand it to Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo for truly getting around San Francisco and showing off the city. As the troubled (and supposedly possessed) Madeleine (played by Kim Novak) follows her great-grandmother Carlotta's ghost around San Francisco, we're treated to a midcentury tour of the city through the voyeuristic gaze of Jimmy Stewart's Scottie. So what if some of those domestic views, like Coit Tower oh-so-perfectly framed in Scottie's Lombard Street window, are faked? It's the 50s, and those sets are now as iconic as the film's real locations.
Since the movie's climax happens off-map, we'll address its setting up here. The climactic scene in the bell tower doesn't take place in San Francisco, but about 90 miles down the peninsula, in San Juan Bautista. When Hitchcock filmed Vertigo, the church did not actually have a bell tower. Instead, he art-directed an image of one into the scene, an insertion that feels almost silly to point out, since it would be hard to miss for anyone who happened to be watching the movie with their eyes open.
· Mapping San Francisco Buildings Used in Movies and Television [Curbed SF]
· 'Vertigo's' San Francisco locations [SFGate]
· Vertigo (1958) Locations [The Hitchcock Zone]